Last week, parliaments in Khartoum and Juba ratified a historic border and oil deal recently signed by the governments of Sudan and South Sudan. Following ratification of the agreement, on Thursday, the South Sudanese government instructed oil companies in the country to resume oil production. In January 2012, Juba had halted oil production amid a dispute with Khartoum over oil transit and processing fees. Oil production accounts for 80 percent of South Sudan’s economy.
Yet while South Sudan’s impending resumption of oil exports has calmed fears of an economic collapse, the country continues to face serious development challenges. Still reeling from two decades of conflict with the North, South Sudan’s human development indicators are among the worst in the world. Over half of the South Sudanese population live below the poverty line. And even as Juba has maintained a tentative peace with Khartoum since their 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in parts of South Sudan, interethnic violence has spiked in recent years.