Reimagining South Sudan

“Seventy percent of the richest quintile in South Sudan owns a pair of shoes. For the poor its only 30 percent.”
– Lant Pritchett, Professor of Economic Development at the Harvard Kennedy School

In a historic referendum on January 9, 2011, nearly 99% of voters in Southern Sudan cast their ballots in favor of secession from the North. With independence on the horizon, the Harvard Committee on African Studies and the Harvard Committee on Ethnic Studies invited the community to hear from Harvard and South Sudan’s top health, economic development, governance, gender and diaspora experts. The event titled, Reimagining South Sudan: A Symposium on the Future of a New African Country was moderated by Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of Research at the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

“We cannot impose ideal European economic and political models directly to Sudan. I guarantee you these will not work.”
– Lant Pritchett, Professor of Economic Development at the Harvard Kennedy School

The panelists discussed the relationship between the region’s future success constructing a new South Sudanese democratic government amidst looming “development gaps” between the north and south, as stated by Michael VanRooyen, Director of Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. These ‘gaps’ can range in the form of equitable oil distribution, provision of medical doctors, and road access points among many more. As important as it is to mobilize discussions on African development, Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, made a key point to remember: “we cannot impose ideal European economic and political models directly to Sudan. I guarantee you these will not work.” Watch the panelists presentations below as they consider the following questions: will the South be able to create the infrastructure needed to run a country? What will happen to Sudan’s oil reserves? Will secession happen peacefully in border areas? What will secession mean for women?