July 31, 2014 (SSNA) — Why do we continue to gift the world with our raw materials that include minerals such as oil and other minerals? The answer lies in many destructive aspects of our culture as Africans and South Sudanese fostered by policies crafted by those who should guide the nation to prosperity had they been wise to do so.
It is the irony of our times that we behave like a colony whose major significance is the shipping out of raw materials to the colonizing nation (s)
And it is tragic irony that these countries, having cheaply acquired our raw materials, oblige us with expensive goods in return made from the very same raw materials. And we beat our chests declaring that not only are we clever, but we will never be a colony again.
And Reader, have you ever noticed how delirious we become when we manage to sell our raw materials especially when we are tricked to make it look like some kind of political victory?
The effects are there for all to see —a dead economy, poor or non-existent companies, poverty, failure to service debts and a bad image among other things. One does not need to have read any textbook on economics to understand that raw material exports disadvantage domestic companies and enrich the developed nations.
The way we export our raw materials is tantamount to turning our backs on the downstream sector of the country’s companies.
What is our problem? Is it stupidity or lack of common sense? There are several expectations to our exports culture that exposes us to underdevelopment.
Greed is the leading weakness among our rulers that makes them addicted to shipping out our raw materials for the benefit of the oligarchy are easy to make and they guarantee quick money.
That is why our gold and petrol are extracted and shipped out in masses by a small powerful clique, robbing the fescues of the much-needed revenue and industry of the much-needed raw materials.
It is almost being sarcastic for south Sudan Asset to proclaim that value –addition is one of its prime targets. The raw materials thieves will ensure that this will not happen. And since most, if not all of they are decision-makers in the system, they will succeed.
Our contempt for value addition is seen in the way we lose skilled manpower without batting an eyelid. The current brain drain does not augur well for innovation and value addition at all.
It is a pity that most of our technocrats are adding economic value elsewhere, including in countries that were hostile to us. It is sad irony that we are training specialists for them.
And this is not helped by our contempt for research and development.
Developed countries invest millions, if not billions in research but we have the audacity of closing down research centers such as the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Juba because the research finding was not “politically correct”.
And we dream of homegrown solutions when we simply import technology and parrot policies developed elsewhere. Ask anyone involved in research in this country and they will tell you how difficult it is to access information, even public information for that matter, as rotten people manning our palatals display paranoia.
And above all, we love politics more than economic development. Rent-seeking politicians make sure that only those aligned to their party get business contracts and the irony is that the same people who are MPs, ministers, bureaucrats and bootlickers among others, are the ones that masquerade as business people. Where we need to consider the economy, we smuggle in politics. We should be more serious than that.
Because we export raw materials and fail to manufacture, we cannot talk of comparative cost advantage on the international market. We have no goods to export; we are simply importers, meaning that our import bill will always make a mockery of our export bill.
And we lack vision, while it is good to empower our own people; it is dangerous to do so without vision. The chaotic land reform destroyed symbiotic industries and some greedy people grabbed more than they could chew.
This is also worsened by the fact that the land is no longer bankable, making it difficult for genuine farmers to obtain money from financial institutions. This effectively killed the agricultural industry and we pretend that exporting raw tobacco is a very high economic achievement.
So, like the colony that we have chosen to be, we continue exporting our raw materials cheaply to enrich the “parent” countries like China, Russia and Uganda.
You should stop behaving like a colony and manufacture your own goods for international trade. Shipping out raw materials will only deplete our resources for a mess of pottage.
Till time come for change, south Sudanese citizens will never ever get freedom until then an ambitious leader rose up and lead the country to recovery.
Hopefully freedom will soon prevail……………..
The author is a student of political science living in Egypt he can be reach through his email: [email protected].