South Sudan is the latest country to confirm its membership into the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI).

Under the agreement, South Sudan will have access to a range of ATI’s political risk and credit risk insurance products, which will prove vital in developing the country’s growing infrastructure needs.

Access to insurance will allow South Sudan’s construction companies to take up government contracts to rebuild the country’s road networks. It will also allow banks from neighbouring countries to set up operations in South Sudan, in turn boosting local financing opportunities.

The agreement was signed on May 8 by Southern Sudan’s vice-president Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon. Speaking at the ATI’s 12th annual meeting, Teny-Dhurgon believes that the depleted state of South Sudan’s road infrastructure is potentially a big opening for investors.

“Within the services sector, systems need to be put in place for banking, insurance and other financial services to be fully operational. These are among the priority areas that we intend to focus on in the coming months.”

He adds: “Political risks, or even the perception of high political risk, can damage a country’s ability to attract foreign investors. Unfortunately, many African countries have faced the consequences of investors backing away from projects because of the potential fall-out from elections or political events.”