South Sudan has been suffering a severe economic meltdown since the country devalued its currency last December in an effort to stabilize the price of food.
Most goods sold in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, are imported from neighbouring Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan. A 12-kg bag of beans currently costs 450 South Sudanese pounds or SSP 450, which compares to SSP 70 before the national currency took a beating. A 50-kg bag of flour now sells for SSP 800, compared to SSP 75 previously.
The eruption of violence in December 2013 reversed gains in peace and security which occurred after South Sudan gained independence in 2011. The country experienced spiraling inflation, swings in commodity prices, exchange rate volatility, and increasing domestic debt.
Edmund Yakani is the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a South Sudanese NGO. He says that, though the decision to devalue the South Sudanese pound was necessary, the timing was wrong.
He adds, “The idea has been tried in other parts of the world, but with limited success. The manner in which we executed our devaluation was not well thought out.”
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Photo credit: AFP