On 18th August 2021 SOLE in partnership with Network for a Free Society (NFS) conducted a one day public lecture at Women Empowerment center in Yambio County, Western Equatoria State Yambio South Sudan. The total number of participants invited and attended the public lecture was 85 participants out of whom 60 were university students majorly from business courses, 10 lecturers from the 3 universities of Mikese University College, Catholic University of South Sudan St. John’s Yambio Campus and Solidarity Teachers Training College and 15 business people and government officials. The lecture was delivered by the former chairperson of Chamber of Commerce but now is a lecturer at St. John Catholic University of South Sudan- Yambio branch. The lecture covered the recent agreement between South Sudan and Kenya https://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article69863 as well on South Sudan and Uganda https://eyeradio.org/uganda-agrees-to-scrap-visa-fees-for-s-sudanese/ on visa free entry and how the move will benefit both countries.
This move for visa free entry was sparked during the 21st Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State in Nairobi in February 2021, where President Salva Kiir of South Sudan appealed to the neighboring countries for a visa waiver, particularly between South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. This was in accordance to The Common Market Protocol on Free Movement of labor and persons for the citizens of partner States adopted on November 20, 2009The three east African countries charge $50 for a single entry visa for ordinary citizens.
This topic captured the attention and a point of interest for the participants. The facilitator further elaborated on the concept of free enterprise and trade as it works through voluntary exchange of goods and services between people. This was related to how this can contribute human flouring and economic growth. The lecturer emphasized that as a business person it is better to understand that nobody is forced into trade but rather it is an individual choice. As a concluding remark at the end of the session, he encouraged the participants to understand and embrace free enterprise and trade as a base of individual growth
Comments and questions
At the end of the public lecture, time was given to the participants to ask questions as well as giving comments. Here are some of the comments captured from the participants.
- Visa free entry is a good move by the governments of both countries. We can now trade well with Kenya because we will not pay for the visa.
- Visa free entry is a good news for Kenya because they can export their internal manufactured goods to South Sudan while South Sudan has nothing to export. We should focus on creating a favorable environment that will attract investors to enable us produce our local products.
- It is our collective responsibility to advocate for free trade policy in South Sudan in order to reap the benefits of free trade that we have learned.
- It will also enhance cultural ties and strengthen the economy of both Partner States by encouraging free movement of persons and labour which are key pillars in the integration of the East African Community
- One of the participants argued that easing movement restrictions would facilitate trade and investment in the region.
- Another participants said that it is not a good move because many Kenyans and Ugandans will come to South Sudan and grab our jobs and businesses.
- This kind of forum enlightens us and we plead to the organizers to reach other parts of the country.