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NRGI Regional Knowledge Hub Alumni Story: Transforming Extractive Industries for Development in South Sudan

  • Blog post

  • 19 October 2015

South Sudan civil society has become increasingly active in lobbying for reform and providing critical feedback and oversight on how the government receives and spends its budget since the nation’s declaration of independence in 2011.

Though Justice Africa was already deeply engaged in South Sudan’s oil revenue management when coordinator Benjamin Ochiengh took part in the Anglophone Africa Regional Knowledge Hub in 2012, mining was an area for knowledge growth.

Name: Mr. Benjamin Ochiengh

Country: South Sudan

Profession: Coordinator, Civil Society Support Project, Justice Africa UK

Course attended: Anglophone Africa Hub, 2012 Summer School

Course attended: Anglophone Africa Hub Summer School 2012

The division of Sudan in 2011 placed three quarters of the country's oil in an independent South Sudan, while the infrastructure required to export the oil remains in the north. South Sudan is the most oil-dependent country in the world. Before a disagreement with the north led to an oil shutdown in January 2012, South Sudan produced half a million barrels a day, accounting for 98 percent of government revenues and about 80 percent of gross domestic product.

South Sudan’s Revenue Management Bill had just been passed. Lessons from other resource-rich countries were key at that critical juncture in the establishment of new governmental institutions and legislation.

Ochiengh could directly relate experience from the Regional Knowledge Hub to the mining-related campaigning gradually emerging in South Sudan, along with civil society’s advocacy for more transparency in the management of oil revenues.

Following the course, Justice Africa organized its first international experience-sharing conference, “Harnessing Natural and Public Resources for a Peaceful and Prosperous South Sudan: What Can We Learn from Others?” This forum launched a three-year program run by Justice Africa and Cordaid, together with a civil society working group.

“We had planned an international experience-sharing conference for civil society,” he said, “but the [Knowledge Hub] really added another dimension and led us to rethink the whole exercise for added clarity and focus.”

On an individual level, Ochiengh said the course gave him a good basis further advocacy and pass on information to other non-specialists active in the sector.

“I got in-depth knowledge about the entire value chain and also had a chance to explore different entry points for engagement along the value chain,” Ochiengh said. This set the training apart from somewhat general instruction on engagement principles he previously experienced.

Networking opportunities abounded at the course, Ochiengh said. He said he would use the contacts he made to link national policy issues and their impacts on individuals, and to make those linkages more explicit. “We cannot just be critics,” he said. “[We must] also mediate and help come up with solutions.”

The Anglophone Africa Regional Knowledge Hub is intended to build capacity to shape oil, gas and mining governance in the region. For more information on hub offerings, visit the Anglophone Africa Regional Knowledge Hub page on NRGI’s website. The regional hub is one of six NRGI has created in partnership with academic institutions to offer training and support for civil society organizations, members of parliament and journalists in Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa. Learn more here.