Trade spat looms as South Sudan accuses Kenya of border land grab


Thursday February 09 2023


South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir. FILE PHOTO | AFP

South Sudan has accused Kenya of grabbing its land, setting the stage for a boundary row that risks derailing trade between the two nations.

Juba says Kenya has “illegally” taken 42 points of its borderline at Nadapal, a settlement on a key crossing point and trade route between the two countries.

South Sudan’s Deputy Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister, Deng Dau Deng, said Kenya and Uganda are claiming part of the South Sudan borderline, pointing out that Juba will not cede an inch of the territory.

The settlement appears inside Sudan on UN maps.

The surrounding territory has a long history of fighting between pastoralist groups and bandit attacks.

Mr Deng said that Juba has reported Kenya and Uganda to the African Union over the alleged border encroachment, in a row that could unsettle the East Africa Community trading bloc if it escalates.

The EAC common market, which consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, was set up in 2010 to allow the free movement of goods and people across borders and is one of the most advanced trading blocs on the continent.

South Sudan is one of Kenya’s main export markets, importing goods worth Sh17.1 billion last year, according to official data that show trade is tilted in favour of Nairobi.

“South Sudan has quite a number of areas that have been entered into by our neighbouring countries and we have been discussing them in the context of the African Union,” Mr Deng is quoted as having said by local media in South Sudan.

Read: South Sudan traders get nod to clear goods in Naivasha

“We have to again reiterate our commitment that there is no piece of land that will be taken from South Sudan.”

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Alfred Mutua, and the Principal Secretary in the ministry had not responded to calls and SMS enquiries from the Business Daily at the time of going to press.

The border dispute with South Sudan comes at a time Kenya is at loggerheads with Somalia over a maritime border in a part of the Indian Ocean believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Maritime row

Kenya in 2021 rejected the ruling of a top UN court that decided mostly in favour of Somalia in the maritime row.

Somalia, which welcomed the ruling, filed the case in 2014 at the UN’s highest court dealing with disputes between states.

Should the dispute escalate, South Sudan may restrict Kenya from using the Nadapal border, ultimately hurting trade.

The border dispute comes at a time when South Sudan has threatened to transfer business to the Djibouti route, in what could deny Kenya revenue on 1.1 million tonnes of cargo that the Mombasa port handles annually.

Mombasa has been the main route for all consignments destined for the landlocked country and South Sudan now says the Port of Djibouti is shorter.

South Sudan is second after Uganda in the use of the Mombasa port, accounting for 9.9 per cent of transit volumes.

Uganda accounts for the lion’s share of 83.2 percent while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda account for 7.2 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Read: South Sudan pushes Ruto to use Joho firm in SGR contract

Kenya has been offering incentives to Juba, including land in Mombasa to build a dry port to ease the cost of doing business between citizens of the two nations.

In September, South Sudan said it acquired three acres of land in Djibouti for the construction of a dry port as it sought to cut reliance on the Port of Mombasa.

→ [email protected]

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button
WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By :