Counting the Cost

South Sudan: Economics of a failed state

We analyse why South Sudan, despite its vast oil wealth, is still suffering economically four years after independence.

South Sudan is only four years old, but the world’s youngest nation tops the rank of failed states worldwide.

After decades of conflict with its neighbour Sudan, long-sought autonomy in 2011 was meant to be a dream come true, but the country has been wracked by violence ever since.

Thousands of people have been killed, and over a million displaced, as President Salva Kiir battles his rival, rebel leader and former vice president, Riek Machar.

Amid the chaos, rising inflation and poverty has left 3.8 million people without enough food – raising the spectre of famine.

Despite its vast oil reserves, the country is producing at only one-third of its oil capacity, compared with levels from 2011, and the government is earning only $10 per barrel compared to the international price of $60. 

Catherine Soi reports from Juba on the local businesses that are suffering due to the lost revenue.

Afghanistan’s lamb pelt trade

The falling price of Afghan lambskin is affecting the country’s pelt industry. Some traders say exports are down by as much as 80 percent.

Lambskin is a niche product, usually used for women’s luxury coats when it is sold in the West.

Crucial to Afghanistan’s ailing economic sector, Nicole Johnston reports from Mazar-e-Sharif on how sheep farmers there are coping.

Behind Saudi Arabia’s stock market opening

Saudi Arabia has opened up its stock market, the largest in the Middle East, to direct foreign investment.

The kingdom is seeking an economic boost amid low global oil prices and will allow companies, particularly those that are not in the oil business, to raise money straight from foreign investors.

Valued at $585bn, the stock market, called Tadawul, oustrips the one of Russia, Turkey and Mexico.

But according to strict rules only the biggest financial institutions will be allowed to invest.

Saudi wants to diversify its oil-based economy, and in doing so create opportunities for a growing youth population, with more than 30 percent of its 24 million populace being under the age of 14.

John Sfakianakis, a director with the fund managing Ashmore Group, says it is an important step for Saudi Arabia and will help the kingdom’s economy become “more transparent”.

Piquet, Prost and Senna: The rise of Formula E

Piquet, Prost and Senna – these are some famous famous names when it comes to the world of Formula One racing, and as it happens, Formula E racing.

Some of the nephews and sons from these familes are now driving in this altogether different league.

Formula E’s electric cars have been drawing in the crowds with a more family-friendly style of racing, whilst also promoting a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and economic outlook on the sport.

Alejandro Agag, the CEO of Formula E, says the first season has “exceeded expectations.”