JUBA - China has agreed to loan South Sudan eight billion dollars for infrastructure development, Juba government spokesman Barnaba Mariel Benjamin said on Saturday.
“It will fund roads, bridges, hydropower, agriculture and telecommunications projects... within the next two years,” he said, giving details of a visit this week to China by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir. “Details (of the projects) will be defined by the ministers of the two countries and by the Chinese firms in charge of the work,” the spokesman said.
China is the largest purchaser of oil from South Sudan and is also a longstanding business partner of Sudan from which it also buys oil. Beijing, however, has made sure to develop good relations with South Sudan since Juba proclaimed independence last July. Kiir had to cut short his visit to China due to the current conflict between his country and Sudan.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July last year after a peace deal ended one of Africa’s longest civil wars, which killed about two million people. But tensions soon arose over a series of unresolved issues including the border, the future of disputed territories and oil.
As a result of independence the landlocked south took with it about 75 percent of the formerly united Sudan’s oil production worth billions of dollars.
Fighting broke out in March between troops belonging to the two sides, with warplanes from the north hitting oil-producing regions in the southern state of Unity.
The south also seized Sudan’s Heglig oil field on April 10 from Khartoum’s army after accusing Sudan of using it as a base to launch attacks on the South, pulling out ten days later after bowing to international pressure.
Juba argues that Heglig — or part of the oil field — lies south of the 1956 border and therefore belongs to them.