Now that the fanfare is over, the imported vuvuzellas are silent, and the confetti has been swept away, sleeves are being rolled up in South Sudan, Africa and the World's newest state, as the daunting task of building a country from scratch begins. Just over a month ago, on July 9, 2011, the southern part of the Sudan--Africa's former largest country--officially broke away in independence, the final act of a secession movement that dates back to the First Sudanese Civil War, a conflict that started a year before Sudan gained independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom in 1956. As expected, building a country will take some grit, especially when doing so in the geographical and political circumstances that South Sudan finds itself.
Security is the first challenge that South Sudan faces. Currently, no less than nine rebel movements are challenging the authority of the new government from within. Coupled with the overtures of hostility from its northern neighbors, this rebel aggression presents a formidable task to the South's government as it seeks to create a investment-friendly climate, a necessity for a country in serious need of infrastructure in every aspect of everyday life.
Naturally, the partition of a country often results in border disputes. The border region of Abyei--located approximately at the center of the north-side border--is oil-rich and is currently administered by the North. The South however disputes the North's authority, and this situation is a potential flashpoint in the touchy relationship between the two countries. A referendum had been scheduled to take place concurrently with the one that took place in January 2011 and resulted in the South's opting to secede. However violence caused a postponement of the Abyei mini-referendum. Eventually, Northern troops marched into the region in May 2011 and have remained put since. Currently, it is unclear when the referendum would take place to decide whether the region wishes to remain part of the North.
On top of its security challenges, South Sudan faces other major issues. It is one of the world's poorest countries and its economic fortunes is predicated on the management of oil resources, which account for 98% of government revenue. Estimates indicate that almost 80% of the former Sudan's oil deposits are in the South. Negotiations are still underway on how to split oil revenues between the two countries, with a 50-50 deal proposed, an arrangement which the South hopes to modify to get a bigger share. A resolution to this impasse would allow the South government to quicken the pace with it pursues its developmental goals.
These challenges are but a tiny fraction of the items on the new nation of South Sudan's laundry list. Fostering global and regional dipomatic ties, building reliable transport, health, and education systems are some of the country's other priorities. The road ahead will be long, but if the South Sudanese people have come this far, why should they stop now?