Building the world's newest capital

Photo-essay on the construction boom in Juba, South Sudan's capital, a year after it seceded from Sudan.


"One day, I’ll build a house, a big storey house. This day will come, but at the moment, I’m still living in this thatch room with my seven children," explains Marie while preparing dinner in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Marie lives in front of a building still under construction in the capital of the world's newest country.

But as the landscape of this former war-torn village changes rapidly with tall buildings and concrete houses rising all over the capital, the construction boom has triggered optimism among many. Everything from ministries to offices are being built and Marie hopes she would also benefit from the frenetic development.

South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, has become the fastest developing country in Africa. 

Investments are mostly from foreign-educated South Sudanese or from the Middle East. They are building homes for their families or hotels for future clients.

The influx of expatriates working for NGOs and an array of firms have spurred the construction craze further.

But the change remains painful. Workers at construction sites live in squalor as they cannot cope with rising living costs.

It has been difficult as well for about four-fifths of the local population living in tukuls (traditional African grass or mud huts). Their city is being transformed, but their lives havent changed as yet.