On July 9, 2011, the southern half of Sudan will become an independent, autonomous region with the official name of the Republic of South Sudan. This is possibly the end of the beginning of a process that started with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and tribal leaders of the Dinka people.
Prior to the signing, the Sudanese government and the Dinka peoples had fought in a civil war that officially lasted from 1983 to 2005, which resulted in the deaths of 1 to 2 million people. So what does South Sudan independence mean for the rest of Africa and the world at large now?
At this time, it appears that very little will change. The years of civil war have left much of the region in great squalor. Approximately 90 percent of the population of South Sudan earns less than $1 USD a day, while the rest of Sudan earns an average of three times that amount. The maternal mortality rate of approximately 2,054 per 100,000 is currently the highest in the world. Foreign aid organizations, ranging from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to the religious organization Samaritan's Purse, have involved their resources and personnel in South Sudan since 2005.
But what of the future for South Sudan independence and how will the rest of Africa and the world be affected? Those reverberations may reach all the way to Qatar, China, Malaysia, India, France, and the Americas. Currently, nearly 98 percent of government tax revenues are from the sale of petroleum products. State-controlled operations based in China and Qatar currently handle the majority of petroleum exploration and production in the region with sporadic involvement coming from as far away from Malaysia and India along with private enterprises from France.
Some of South Sudan's government officials are seriously looking into divesting direct foreign involvement and ownership in petroleum production and exploration over the long term. Other areas to look for in the economic realm is agriculture. Much of the economy like other developing countries are based on the production and sales of crops such as wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mangos, and bananas along with certain varieties of timber like teak. The area of South Sudan benefits geographically with the River Nile and several of its tributaries. South Sudan is believed to also possess other natural resources such as gold, silver, copper, and other minerals that may be excavated if peace in the region is sustained.
There are still skirmishes between the South Sudanese and the greater Sudanese government forces. Other regions of Sudan like Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile still remain in a precarious position as efforts to stabilize those areas have not succeeded due to lingering disagreements, both within Sudan as well as the rest of international community, and certain failures to abide by the 2005 Agreement. As for the rest of the nations of Africa, other nations may find opportunities within their boundaries as opposed to finding them elsewhere on other continents.