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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Sudanese rebels venture into money business
world currencies
Analysts are lukewarm about the SPLA venture
The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA) says it plans to launch a bank and its own currency in southern Sudan where it is in control.


This is the demand of the civilian population in the liberated areas in order to enhance economic activities.

Dr Lualk Deng

But some financial analysts have been sceptical about the venture - saying that it cannot succeed in a region perceived as a war zone or until Sudan's political crisis is sorted out.

Since 1983, government forces from the mainly Arab and Muslim north have been fighting rebels from the Christian and animist south led by the SPLA which is seeking independence for the people of southern Sudan.

'Reduced dependence'

SPLA's Banking and Finance Committee chairman, Dr Lualk Deng told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the move would reduce the region's dependence on Ugandan and Kenyan financial institutions.

"This is the demand of the civilian population in the liberated areas in order to enhance economic activities," he said.

Dr Deng said the proposed bank, to be launched in June, would facilitate business transactions in the region which has no formal banking system.

The SPLA also plans to introduce a new Sudanese pound in August which will replace various local and foreign currencies in use in southern Sudan.

The bank will be located in the rebel-held town of Yambo on the border with the Central African Republic (CAR) which is also linked to important trade routes to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

The SPLA says the bank will be run by Nile Credit Management Ltd, a company registered in Kenya.

SPLA fighters
The SPLA wants independence for southern Sudan

It claims to have a capital base of one million US dollars, with shares being offered to individuals, families and institutions.

But financial analysts in East Africa have expressed doubts about the viability of the SPLA venture.

"Under what legal political entity would such a currency operate?" a Kenyan financial consultant, Mr Clif Mukulu, told the Nairobi weekly, The East African.

He says Yambo lacks the infrastructure to sustain a bank.

US dollar

Southern Sudan has been relying on a collection of foreign currencies.

In Yambo and in the west, the Uganda shilling and the old Sudanese pound (replaced with the dinar a few years by the Sudan government) are preferred.

The Kenya shilling and the Ethiopian birr dominate parts of southern and eastern Sudan.

Elsewhere, it is the US dollar that rules, particularly in most of southern Sudan where international aid agencies carry out their relief work.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Professor Wol Deng of the SPLM on Focus on Africa
"This is the demand of the people in the liberated areas."

Key stories

Background
See also:

25 Apr 02 | Africa
26 Mar 02 | Business
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