South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, joined the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, amid rising fears that border clashes with Sudan may escalate into war.
One of the world’s least developed countries, the African nation achieved independence from Sudan last July after more than two decades of war.
South Sudan’s entry into the two multilateral financial institutions comes as each side accuses the other of fomenting unrest along their border. Sudan’s economy is in crisis after the loss of oil revenue following South Sudan’s separation.
In signing ceremonies at the IMF and World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, on Wednesday, South Sudan’s Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr Kosti Manibe Ngai, completed the country’s bid for membership that begun in April 2011.
“Even before we became members, the World Bank had already been collaborating closely with us,” he said.
“So today we are very pleased that the formalities have finally been completed, and we look forward to a long-term partnership with the World Bank Group.”
South Sudan became the 188th member of the sister institutions just in time to join their spring meetings this week in the US capital.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed South Sudan to the global lender, saying “the IMF will do its best to assist the country in setting up foundations for economic stability.”
South Sudan had approached the IMF for technical assistance, in building the capacity and institutions to manage its nascent economy.
The IMF is coordinating with donors in a dedicated $11 million trust fund in support of South Sudan over the next four years. “The European Union plans to come on board as a lead donor,” it said.
The World Bank, an anti-poverty development lender, also praised South Sudan’s membership, calling the impoverished country a “test case” on its principles of citizen-led state building.
The opening doors for the country’s progress came against the backdrop of rising international fears about the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. (AFP)