South Sudan 2021 Spotlight Panel: Unlocking Investment to Build the Nation

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  • Taking place in Juba, Day 1 of the highly anticipated South Sudan Oil & Power (SSOP) 2021 conference and exhibition took off to an exciting start with keynotes and presentations by South Sudanese government representatives.  
  • The second session on SSOP 2021’s exciting agenda comprised a spotlight panel under the theme ‘Unlocking Investment to Build the Nation.’ 
  • The session saw a productive discussion by high level panelists including Dr. Philip Waden, Power Projects Manager, Trinity Energy; Benedict Kanu, Country Manager, African Development Bank, South Sudan; Reec Akuak, Partner, Capium Partners; Kudakwashe Matereke, Regional COO-East AfricaAfreximbank; and Alam Chaat, Head, Transactions, Products and Services, Stanbic Bank, moderated by Dr Jacob Dut Chol, Director of Planning, Nilepet, South Sudan.  

The highly anticipated South Sudan Oil & Power (SSOP) 2021 conference and exhibition took off to an exciting start with opening keynotes from high level government representatives, including Hon. Puot Kang Chol, Minister of Petroleum of the Republic of South Sudan. SSOP 2021’s second session on the event program saw a dynamic spotlight panel that focused on the state of financing in South Sudan and how to raise funds – with ideas from lenders – and the progress of infrastructure building programs, including civil construction, and industrial and energy related infrastructure.  

Under the theme ‘Unlocking Investment to Build the Nation,’ Day one’s spotlight panel saw a discussion by high level panelists including Dr. Philip Waden, Power Projects Manager, Trinity Energy; Benedict Kanu, Country Manager, African Development Bank (AfD), South Sudan; Reec Akuak, Partner, Capium Partners; Kudakwashe Matereke, Regional COO- East Africa, Afreximbank; and Alam Chaat, Head, Transactions, Products and Services, Stanbic Bank, with the session moderated by Dr Jacob Dut Chol, Director of Planning, Nilepet, South Sudan.  

The session commenced with an opening keynotes presented by NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and Hon. Caesar Oliha Marko, Chairman, National Petroleum and Gas Commission. In his keynote, Ayuk emphasized the value of local content and adapting to the changing environment. By bringing attention to inclusivity and the role of women in the oil and gas industry, Ayuk proposed that the oil and gas industry could  be a catalyst for change. Additionally, in an informative keynote address, Hon. Marko provided valuable insight into the current oil production activities in South Sudan. Through a detailed explanation of South Sudan’s current oil producing blocks, Hon. Marko demonstrated the range of activities and investment opportunities available in South Sudan’s burgeoning industry. By emphasizing the value and importance of the environmental audits commencing across the industry, Hon. Marko emphasized and promoted sustainable oil and gas project activities. 

“I am a person who believes that oil has a future. To the Ministers, we will be challenging you a lot. We need those enabling environments and supportive policies. To my friends from the investor community, there is no better time to invest in South Sudan,” stated Ayuk.  

“South Sudan is very blessed to have vital resources and there are so many opportunities in the country. We have to encourage oil companies to invest in exploration to add value to declining levels of production,” stated Hon. Marko.  

What’s more, Managing Director of Nilepet, Bol Ring Mourwel Kon, in officially opening the panel, further emphasized the range of investment opportunities in South Sudan. Through a detailed understanding of Nilepet’s activities, Kon noted that Nilepet will be focusing on infrastructure, attempting to reduce power costs in Juba, and expanding the sector across the whole country.  

“We have to be very clear with the message that we want to send to the international community in this conference. As the only commercial arm of the government, Nilepet is ready to work with and invest with other companies who want to come into South Sudan,” stated Kon.  

Thereafter, a productive discussion commenced in which information regarding ongoing infrastructure projects in South Sudan, suggested regulatory amendments that would establish the country as an investment competitor, and financial guidance for local businesses was provided. Specifically, Benedict Kanu detailed the various projects in which the AfDB was currently engaged with in South Sudan. According to Kanu, the AfDB is prioritizing infrastructure projects through power sector grid expansion, water and sanitation projects. Additionally, Alam Chaat said that digitization was Stanbic Bank’s approach in South Sudan due to recent challenges COVID has presented.   

“The AfD, in support of the government of South Sudan, has provided $38 million for the establishment of and infrastructure regarding the national grid in Juba. The project comprises 2000 streetlights, the connection of 14,000 residents to the grid and 6,000 entities. Additionally, we have an ongoing $25 million water and sanitation infrastructure project,” stated Kanu.  

“Stanbic has been active in South Sudan since 2004 and we have a good relationship with the government. Despite the challenges in terms of political stability and difficulty in accessing loans, we are working to build credibility in terms of how we approach financing in South Sudan. We need to progress as a nation so that we are of international standards,” stated Chaat.  

Additionally, the panel discussion provided insight into the challenges within South Sudan’s regulatory environment, in which Akuak and Matereke suggested amendments and strategies to establish investor certainty in the country. By creating the opportunity for multilateral financing institutions to be active in South Sudan, and by addressing regulatory challenges regarding process clarity, South Sudan can attract investors and spur growth in the oil and gas sector.   

“From a regulatory compliance perspective, some of the challenges are that most investors do not understand the process in terms of selection and procurement when it comes to infrastructure projects. Investors may be interested, but they do not know how to proceed and go through with the selection process,” stated Akuak. 

“The government of South Sudan should be encouraged to join multilateral financing institutions as it increases loan accessibility, widens the pool from which investors can come, and provides a better view of the opportunities in South Sudan,” stated Matereke.  

Finally, Waden provided insight into Trinity Energy’s activities and objectives in South Sudan, detailing how their new refinery was still in the feasibility stages due to technological and financial difficulties, and yet they are optimistic, seeking international partnerships and collaboration.  

“At Trinity, we have to make sure that we participate with international investors, and by prioritizing joint ventures, we can guide investors in the right direction. One of the key areas to work on in policies. We need to enforce law and make sure investments are done correctly. I want to emphasize that any company coming into South Sudan, we are ready to work hand in hand with you,” stated Waden.  

As South Sudan celebrates one decade of independence, the government, in collaboration with both regional and international stakeholders, has prioritized road building, oil industry participation, and power projects as a means to build the nation, enact a full COVID-19 recovery, and accelerate associated socioeconomic growth country-wide. Through informative discussions such as those presented by the first spotlight panel, the government and associated industry representatives, are emphasizing that South Sudan is officially open for investment, backed by reformed peace and political stability, and is, therefore, inviting both regional and international stakeholders to participate in the country’s infrastructure transformation.  

Keep following for more information on SSOP 2021 or register for free to watch the livestream.  

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Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands is the Deputy Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She holds a Higher Certificate in Professional Photography and Masters in Media Studies from the University of Cape Town. Charné writes content for ECP's website and events as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery.

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