South Sudan citizens decry skyrocketing food prices

Flag of South Sudan with flare and dark blue sky

South Sudan’s citizens on Monday decried skyrocketing prices of basic commodities like food due to the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

South Sudan depends significantly on essential commodities imported from neighboring Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.

Moses Lado, a vendor at Jebel market, said that food price hike had negatively impacted his business amid the devaluation of the local currency.

“Prices of food in the market have doubled in the recent past while destabilizing livelihoods, “said Lado.

He said the devaluating local currency has deterred traders from importing cargo, paralyzing the supply chain network, adding that 100 U.S. dollars is about 48,000 South Sudanese pounds.

“Life has become hard for me as a trader, it is not easy, and there is no business. I sit from morning to evening without making any sufficient sales unlike last month,” said Lado.

Suzan Achol, a female trader said that 50 kilograms of maize flour is sold at 13,000 South Sudanese pounds (about 35 U.S. dollars), and one kilogram of sugar is retailing at 5 dollars.

“The cost of different commodities differs from one market to the other,” said Achol.

Kuol Athian, minister of Trade and Industry, said recently that the government had put measures in place to help stabilize the cost of basic commodities.

Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning said that inter-communal skirmishes, natural disasters, desert locust invasion and volatility in the global oil market had slowed down economic growth in South Sudan.

“The tax revenues were also significantly affected because of the closure of borders and business with neighboring countries became very slow or at least only relief items were allowed to come,” said Garang.

South Sudan government said in August that it was seeking 250 million U.S. dollars loan from African Export and Import Bank to cushion the economy from disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The central bank in Juba in August announced that it had run out of foreign exchange reserves and could not halt the deprecation of local currency.

The landlocked country depends entirely on oil to finance its budget, but a reduction in oil production from 185,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 170,000 bpd due to COVID-19 disruptions has negatively impacted revenue generation.