South Sudan's economy is entirely based on
oil and aid, but for the individual resident, livestock
management and cultivation for their own use is usually
a prerequisite for survival. The oil can generate large
income, but the country is one of the poorest and least
developed in the world and the aid needs are enormous.
The Civil War 2013–2015 put an end to all social and
economic development, and suspicions of war crimes
committed by the government side have severely weakened
relations with donor countries.
The government in Juba faces the task of building a
functioning economy after the end of the war in 2015. In
accordance with the 2005 peace agreement (see Modern
history) three-quarters of the old Sudanese oil sources
attacked the new state of South Sudan, but in order to
be able to sell its oil abroad, South Sudan is dependent
on transporting it via pipelines through Sudan to the
port of Port Sudan on the Red Sea. For this, South Sudan
pays fees to the Khartoum government. There is conflict
between the countries about how high the fees should be.
The government of Juba said in early 2016 that the high
fees combined with low oil prices meant that oil
production actually cost the state money rather than
bring in revenue. This is an extremely serious problem
for South Sudan, as 86 percent of the state's revenue
came from oil recovery in the 2014/2015 financial year,
as well as 99 percent of the 2013/2014 export value.
Major imports by South Sudan, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
Oil production began to fall already shortly after
independence in July 2011. According to the government,
oil production in November the same year had decreased
by a quarter. The main reason was a lack of skilled
labor. Many educated North Sudanese traveled back to
their own land when the South broke away.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including SSPS which represents the country of South Sudan.
Hard savings requirements and high inflation
Disputes with the neighboring country also led to
interruptions in oil production. Sudan accused South
Sudan of not paying its transport fees, while the
government in Juba claimed that Khartoum self-seized
South Sudanese oil or halted shipping from Port Sudan.
The disagreement over transport costs led to South Sudan
completely halting oil production between January and
October 2012 and thus voluntarily curtailed the inflow
to the Treasury. It was not until April 2013 before the
oil could in practice start pumping up again. The oil
stoppage, among other things, led to rapidly rising
inflation, which the country still has not been able to
As a result of the problems in the oil industry, the
government introduced tough savings programs in schools
and healthcare, which affected the poor population. At
the same time, more money was allocated to the defense
and to modernize the rather god-forsaken capital of
South Sudan is completely dependent on foreign aid
and loans. In 2012, South Sudan became a member of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and received a
three-year development loan from the same year. Prior to
the outbreak of the war in 2013, countries such as the
United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and the
Netherlands were also important donors. As the reports
of suspected war crimes increased in 2014, these
countries declined to provide assistance and loans
through the government in Juba. Instead, they channeled
the money mainly through the UN and a number of aid
organizations. South Sudan's government has subsequently
turned to a number of oil companies, China and Qatar for
Before the outbreak of the civil war, trade was an
important industry. Goods were imported from neighboring
countries, mainly from Kenya and Uganda. For its
imports, South Sudan is dependent on the port of Mombasa,
Kenya, and the government has therefore shown great
interest in Kenyan plans to build a new, complementary
port in Lamu further north. From it, it is intended that
a railway should be built through northern Kenya to
South Sudan and Ethiopia. Before the war, the government
had also allocated money to build a connecting line from
Juba to a planned railway between Kenya and Uganda. All
of these development plans were shelved by the outbreak
of war in 2013 and it is uncertain what will become of
them in the future.
South Sudan got its own central bank in 2006 and just
over a week after independence a new currency, the South
Sudanese Pound was launched. It was given a course that
exactly corresponded to the Sudanese pound. At the same
time, the President called on all residents with large
assets abroad to take home their money and invest them
in their home country.
While agriculture and livestock management are
central to the livelihood of the vast majority of South
Sudanese, the country's industrial sector is in the
immediate wasteland of the war. In addition to the oil
industry, there are manufacturing factories for beer and
The negative effects of the civil war on the South
Sudanese economy can hardly be exaggerated. The
country's economy is smashed. The three years of war can
be described as lost years in terms of economic and
human development. With millions of people fleeing the
countryside where fighting has raged, agriculture has
almost collapsed. Extensive food shortages have occurred
and over half the population today is dependent on some
form of help for their survival. Oil production was
seriously damaged when rebels occupied oil wells. In
March 2015, the UN expressed concern that the central
bank was starting to print new banknotes to help the
government fill the gaps in the state budget. This
measure fueled the already high inflation. The
short-term solution seemed to be new loans; In April
2015, the government announced that it had received a $
500 million loan from Qatar.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
$ 283 (2016)
US $ 3,071 million (2016)
-11.2 percent (2016)
Agriculture's share of GDP
11.4 percent (2016)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
4.6 percent (2016)
The service sector's share of GDP
68.0 percent (2016)
24.5 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
42.2 percent (2018)
South Sudanese Pound
US $ 2,179 million (2017)
US $ 1,358 million (2017)
US $ 282 million (2017)
Main export goods
Largest trading partner
Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, China
Hundreds of dead in fighting in the south
SPLM's military branch SPLA (later transformed into South Sudan's regular
army) clashes with a Khartoum-friendly militia in the southern city of Malakal.
The fighting intensifies as the north side army moves in on the militia side.
Hundreds of people, including civilians, are killed before fighting subsides.
South Sudan gets its own government
An SPLM-dominated government takes office in South Sudan with Salva Kiir
Mayardit as president.
New federal government takes office
In accordance with the CPA Peace Agreement (see January 2005),
the South Sudanese Party SPLM takes a seat in the Federal Government of
President Garang dies
South Sudan's President John Garang, who was also the leader of the SPLM
government party, perished in a helicopter crash. He succeeds on all posts by
SPLM veteran Salva Kiir Mayardit, who, like Garang, belongs to the Dinka people.
The death triggers rioting between North and South Sudanese in Khartoum.
SPLM leader Garang becomes president of South Sudan
The CPA peace agreement (see January 2005) and a
transitional constitution enter into force. Southern Sudan thus gets internal
self-government. South Sudanese guerrilla SPLM leader John Garang takes over as
First Vice President of the Sudan Federation. Sudan's incumbent President Omar
al-Bashir remains in office. Garang also becomes president of southern Sudan,
where the SPLM is transformed into a political party and forms government.
Peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan
The historic CPA (the Comprehensive Peace Agreement) is signed by the
Sudanese government and the South Sudanese guerrilla SPLM / SPLA in Khartoum.
The CPA agreement is the end point of nearly 22 years of civil war between
northern and southern Sudan. The agreement is valid for a six-year transitional
period from 1 July 2005. During the transitional period, Sudan shall be a
federation between the northern and southern parts. The country should have a
joint federal government and a joint president. In addition, each country end
must have its own government and president. The agreement thus gives South Sudan
autonomy and states that the SPLM will take place in a new federal government in
Khartoum. Towards the end of the transition period, the inhabitants of the South
shall be allowed to decide in a referendum whether they will remain in the
federation or form an independent state.