WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012—The Republic of South Sudan became the newest World Bank Group member today when the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Kosti Manibe Ngai, signed the Bank’s Articles of Agreement and Conventions in Washington DC. The event was witnessed by John Dor Majok, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of South Sudan, and Albino Chol Thiik, Acting Undersecretary of Economic Planning, as well as officials from the Bank Group.
“Even before we became members, the World Bank has already been collaborating closely with us,” said Minister Ngai.” So today we are very pleased that the formalities have finally been completed, and we look forward to a long term partnership with the World Bank Group as we work together on the much needed development of South Sudan.”
South Sudan became the world’s newest country in July 2011, after decades of conflict which imposed a heavy human toll and left it falling far behind in its development. Although the country has rich agricultural potential and significant oil reserves, it faces tremendous development challenges. More than half the population lives in grinding poverty, and it has some of the lowest human development indicators in the world. One in four maternal deaths occurs during pregnancy or within months after delivery, and less than a third of people aged 15 and above are literate.
Roughly the size of France, infrastructure such as roads barely exist, making the provision of basic services difficult, and access to local markets extremely challenging. Most of South Sudan’s population of eight million is very young, with almost three quarters under the age of 30, 83 percent of whom reside in rural areas.
“I am very pleased to welcome South Sudan, the world’s newest country as our newest member of the World Bank Group, to help it manage and resolve its many formidable development challenges while it also builds a broad national coalition to secure lasting peace and prosperity,”said Obiageli Ezekwesili, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.
World Bank Group Membership
As a member of the World Bank Group, South Sudan will have access to grants and zero interest financing from the International Development Association, the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The country will also continue to have access to a wide range of technical and advisory services from the Bank Group, which has been a stalwart partner of South Sudan since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.
Ahead of the nation’s independence, a US$75 million South Sudan Transition Trust Fund was established by the Bank to help provide South Sudan’s people with health care, infrastructure, and employment during the transition period. The generation of jobs by the private sector is important in a fledging state with hardly any sustained employment opportunities for youth, and where the government is the main employer.
In April this year, South Sudan received its first World Bank grant to help create jobs and increase access to finance for entrepreneurs, especially youth and women. This is also in line with the Bank’s emphasis on providing access to services, jobs and finance, key themes of the World Bank-IMF 2012 Spring Meetings.
The Bank is also working closely with the government and stakeholders in South Sudan to develop a new two-year partnership strategy, which will identify a range of efforts that are critical to supporting South Sudan’s development.