Return to Juba

Greetings from Juba, Southern Sudan

I am back in Juba for the third time since July continuing to discuss with various decision makers monetary policy regime options and negotiating positions with the North for dividing monetary assets and liabilities of the Central Bank of Sudan when the South becomes independent next year, and preparations for establishing a new central bank.

My residence in Afex Camp by the Nile continues to improve and is almost approaching what you could call, African adjusted, nice. The main paths from our bungalows to the open air dinning area by the Nile have been improved with relatively fine gravel, which lets the water drain when it rains and keeps the dust down when it doesn’t. Some quit attractive gardens have been planted on either side of some of these paths. The dinning pavilion, as before, has a high ceiling with ceiling fans that attempt to keep the insect kingdom from invading our food and faces. Its view of the Nile 10 meters away is as lovely as ever.

A unique feature of our dinning area is that everything is covered with saran wrap (plates, glasses, flat ware and of course the food) in order to keep the jungle creatures at bay. It seems to work well and dinners are quite pleasant. Next to our dinning pavilion is an open air (but also covered) bar that would be the envy of any such hang out. I have never had the time to sit there and enjoy it but it is nice to know that it is there.

My two room plus bathroom and toilet room bungalow is in fact quite nice as well, dramatically better, in fact, than my rooms in the IMF guesthouse in Kabul from which I have just come. On this visit I am staying in Zambia 2. On previous visits I stayed in Sudan 1 and Niger 1. My apartment is well air-conditioned and the mosquito net over my bed has no holes. It even has a TV with satellite station access (I am told as I have never tried to turn it on), and Internet access without which I really would feel deprived and isolated.

The evening of my arrival, the Deloitte project manager (my boss) called to say that the North South negotiators had just come to an agreement in Khartoum on the division of the assets and liabilities of the central bank (the currency and the assets that back it) between the North and South in preparations for the South’s independence next year (referendum is January 9 and independence day is scheduled to be July 9th).  This was one of the topics I came to advise on so this was quite a surprise. The project manager was trying to arrange for me to fly up to Khartoum the next day to review what was going on, but had to give up as my Sudanese visa had been stamped in Juba when I arrived and thus would be unacceptable in the North. Not only would they not permit me entry, he learned, but they would not let me return to the South (Juba) either. The next day while waiting for the new agreement to be faxed or emailed to us, we learned that none of it was true—just another one of the rumors that circulated from time to time. This was an adrenaline stimulating start to my visit.