South Sudan is yet to harmonise its internal laws to conform to the East African Community integration. It is also yet to repeal internal laws that impede free movement of people under the Common Market’s six freedoms.
This is because the country lacks both human capital and technical capacity, a move that has seen the president appeal to his neighbours for help.
“It is in our best interest to ease the movement of people and goods within the region in order to facilitate trade and investment as well as contribute to our end goal of East African regional integration,” said President Salva Kiir.
For a country that took only four years to be admitted to the EAC in 2016, civil strife meant the country concentrated on resolving its conflicts rather than plan how to reap the benefits of a Common Market.
Few South Sudanese staff were trained in Customs, immigration, and revenue/tax collection at the border points resulting in a slow EAC integration process. In May 2021, President Kiir urged East African leaders to waive visa fees for South Sudanese. Kenya and Uganda are the only EAC partner states that still charge Visa fees on South Sudanese citizens.
Apart from the nine members of the East African Legislative Assembly, South Sudan nationals are yet to be employed in senior ranks at the EAC organs.
“Please put in place mechanisms to increase South Sudan’s level of participation in intra-regional trade in addition to initiatives that will enable the people of South Sudan to fully capitalise on the benefits of the Community,” said President Kiir.
A section of EALA members see the recent call for staff recruitment as an opportunity South Sudan does not wish to miss.
“South Sudan is fully integrated into the EAC but we are yet to begin enjoying the benefits of the EAC integration,” said Gideon Gatpan Thoar, MP at EALA.
“But we are happy that at least we have staffers at the Lake Victoria Basin and others at the East African Court of Justice South Sudan students have also benefited from scholarships, thanks to the EAC Interuniversity Council.”
However, according to the EALA chairperson of the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges Hon Kennedy Mukulia Ayason, even though the delay in reimbursement has affected their performance, he is optimistic the arrears will be fully paid.
“By May 2021, South Sudan had remitted $5million to the Community. As a country, we have put in place mechanisms to ensure the remaining balance of $3 million for the previous financial year is fully paid,” said Ayason.