Addis Ababa (Sudanow) - less than fifty days to go for the referendum of southern Sudan, President Al Bashir and his First Deputy, Kiir, have said nay to a future war and killing in Sudan whatever be the outcome of the referendum. That was political commitment. But an academic study says this position is also economically driven and that there is deep thought behind it .
A recent study by a group of academic, economic and security specialists have reinforced this stand when they said if a war breaks, not only the Sudan, but equally its neighbors and the international community will incur heavy losses and this time it was going to be a really mean war .
During a summit meeting of heads of state of IGAD organization in Ethiopia, in November, the two top leaders of the Executive and Presidency in Khartoum and in Juba, Bashir and Kiir, respectively, told their IGAD counterparts that war would be avoided at all cost .
Two days later experts based in Nairobi and London, revealed in their study that a return to war in Sudan could cost in excess of $100 billion .
‘The Cost of Future Conflict in Sudan’, a new 24 page report by Frontier Economics Limited co-launched by The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Society for International Development (SID) and the Aegis Trust presented a fresh analysis on the economic costs of war for Sudan, some of Sudan’s immediate neighbours - Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt – and for the international community .
It is a warning from academics that Sudanese should avoid a repeat of the 22 year old war, least they sustain untold losses at a time they need to secure every penny for development.
The referendum comes six years after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) brought an end to the 22 year civil conflict between the Government of Sudan and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, resulting in an estimated two million in human loss and making four million displaced between 1983 and 2005 .
The report recognizes the difficulties in measuring the costs of potential future conflict. It provides different scenarios – low, medium, high conflict scenarios and a peace scenario – and models four different paths of economic growth .
It concludes that while there may be some positive impacts on the region from investment being redirected from Sudan, the evidence suggests the net impact of conflict would be significantly negative. In particular, these would include: .
US$50billion to Sudan itself in lost GDP
US$25billion of GDP relative to a more stable situation in neighbouring countries; and
US$30 billion in peacekeeping and humanitarian costs to the international community .
The experts say between 10% – 20% of Sudan’s GDP comes from oil. "If the oil supply were to be shut down with the outbreak of civil war, then Sudan would immediately lose 10-20% of its GDP – equivalent to $6.5-13 billion in 2011 for as long as oil production remained shut down." .
The study says the overall cost would be particularly grave for Sudan’s neighbours; amounting to 34% of their total annual Gross Domestic Product (DGP) over a 10 year period. Both Kenya and Ethiopia could potentially lose over US$1billion per year .
“This report demonstrates the high cost of conflict. It implies that domestic, regional and international parties should be asking – ‘Are we doing enough to avoid a war that might cost over US$100 billion and ruin countless lives’?” said Matthew Bell, Associate Director of the London based, Frontier Economics, in a press release on the launching day.
“It is widely acknowledged that a return to war in Sudan could cause immense human suffering. This report should also concentrate the minds of policymakers who are also concerned about the future economic stability of the region,” said James Smith, Chief Executive of Aegis Trust.
“There is less than 50 days from a referendum that may change the map of Africa. This report demonstrates that Sudan, Sudan’s neighbors or the international community can not afford a serious escalation in violence,” said Kenneth Mpyisi of the Nairobi based Institute for Security Studies.
But Bashir, underlined his government commitment to go ahead with the implementation of the CPA, the peace agreement, assertingthat there will not return to war
"War will never be an option, whether south Sudan referendum leads to unity or emergence of two states" President Bashir stressed, adding that in case of separation, the government in thenorth will work with Sudan People's Liberation Movement to establish firm anddistinguished relations covering security, economic, political and socialareas, he said
Addressing a close-door sitting of the IGADExtraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa, President Bashir affirmed that the(CPA) was aimed to realizing comprehensive settlement and toachieve peace and security in the region, a position the warring parties have reached and which they would continue to maintain.
His position was echoed by the First Vice President Salva Kiir, who has stressed in his address before the 16th Extraordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government on Sudan, Wednesday 23rd November, 2010 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Although Kiirspoke politics at first, but then when it comes to separation and unity he was so pragmatic that he underlined:
"We are committed to work in a spirit of partnership to create peaceful and sustainable good relations between northern and Southern Sudan regardless of the outcome of the referendum." Kiir underlined.
He added with a sense of humor that " I have said it time and again that it is in our interest to see to it that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interest of the north to see Southern Sudan emerge as a viable state too. There should be no room for fear about the future because I have also reiterated several times that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic Coast. Instead we will be sharing the longest border between us." .
He stressed that once again, we commend the efforts of IGAD, the Au, the UN and the International Community for the continued support for peace in our country and our people. On our part we will do our utmost best not only to reciprocate your efforts but to work for a favorable environment for economic development and sustainable peace in the region. We are optimistic about the future and with your efforts we will make it together .
The commitment of the two leaders is also reflected in the final communiqué issued by the Summit of IGAD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 23 November 2010, at the conclusion of theSummit.
The IGAD final communiqué, (see sudanow.info.sd/ file) said the leaders have been briefed on the implementation ofthe CPA by Bashir, President of the Republic of theSudan; Kiir, the President of the Government of SouthernSudan and Chairperson of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) ; Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Mbeki, Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP); Sir Plumbly, Chairperson of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC); and Menkerios, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Sudan .
The communiqué said after extensive deliberations on theprogress of the implementation of the CPA in theSudan, The Assembly, "welcomes the dedication of the Parties to resolvethe outstanding issues in particular Abyei and called upon the parties toapproach the next round of negotiations with a spirit of compromise cognizant ofthe need to guarantee the rights and livelihoods of the affected people" .
The African heads of state and government have welcomed Bashir and Kiir commitment to the timely and credible conduct of free and fair referendum and the respectfor its outcome ;
It said the assembly of the heads of state and governments "Notes in particular the commitment by the parties to neverreturn to war but instead to seek peaceful resolution of issues that may dividethem. The Summit emphasized that political tensions be managed within the limitsin the context of the exceptional character of Sudan as a melting pot, owing toits exceptional generosity of its people" .
The heads of state have thus set the key note upon which peace and security could be based and which will ultimately lead to avoidance of a recurrence of warring and whooping loss of over 100 billion dollars .
Thus the executive summary of the study states that in January 2011, Southern Sudan will vote in a referendum on whether or not to become an independent state. It pinpoints that the referendum comes six years after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement brought a formal end to the 22-year civil conflict between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. An estimated two million people were killed in Sudan and four million displaced between 1983 and 2005 .
The study warns that the security situation in Southern Sudan remains poor, with continuing low intensity violence and lawlessness. While there are substantial financial incentives for leaders on both sides to resist a return to conflict, the referendum is one of many issues which could trigger an escalation of violence .
It concludes that the analysis in the report suggests that a return to war in Sudan would entail costs in excess of US$100 billion, including, 50 billion to Sudan itself in lost GDP, 25 billion of GDP relative to a more stable situation in neighbouring countries; and 30 billion in peacekeeping and humanitarian costs to the international community .
Having talked about the economic consequences, the report left it for the Sudanese who know and who have experienced the meaning of human loss in the 22 year old war, to estimates how much in cash would they estimate the human loss if a war breaks once again with each party having prepared itself for such an eventuality and with third parties ready to fuel the flame of war once again.??
But is warns that "War can affect the economy in a number of different ways over time. While some effects can be positive, the economic impact of civil conflict, as opposed to international wars, is almost invariably negative." .
"Furthermore, the report deliberately does not attempt to quantify the human suffering and related, economic impact of war." The executive summary of the study put it .
Mohamed Osman –editor in chief
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia