* Government to take 20 percent stake in new airline
* South Sudan plans to purchase new aircraft
* China to help build new Juba airport
By Mading Ngor
JUBA, Aug 23 The world's newest nation South
Sudan is looking for an international company to help run its
nascent national airline in a public-private partnership and
hopes to choose a firm after about a month, a senior transport
South Sudan split from Sudan over a year ago after decades
of civil war that left the new nation with almost no industry or
infrastructure outside of the oil sector.
The former rebels running the country are eager to bring in
foreign investment to help develop the economy, but have
struggled because of issues including instability, inflation,
corruption and a lack of infrastructure and laws.
Nevertheless, South Sudan's cabinet announced last week the
country would set up its own airline in a bid to better connect
the landlocked nation with the outside world.
"We're going to develop a public-private partnership in
order to establish a South Sudan airline ... It will be run
commercially by an international, reputable company," Deputy
Minister of Transport Mayom Kuoc Malek said in an interview.
"This project is a priority because as a landlocked country
we need to reach the outside world, and the best way to reach
the outside world is to have an aviation industry which is
efficient," he said.
The government plans to take a 20 percent stake in the
airline, sell 31 percent to the domestic private sector and 49
percent to international investors.
Some 22 airlines currently serve Juba International Airport,
mostly from African neighbours such as Kenya, Uganda and
South Sudan's economic future was thrown into doubt when it
shut down its oil industry in January in a dispute with Khartoum
over how much it should pay to export crude through Sudan.
The move erased the source of 98 percent of South Sudan's
state revenues, although Juba has since reached an interim deal
with Khartoum to open the way to resuming exports.
Malek said a committee planned to review tenders from
companies and select one after about a month.
"There are companies which have shown interest, but we have
to advertise to get more," he said. "We'll go for modern planes,
the Boeings, the Airbuses, and also other suitable aircraft
which can operate in the Republic of South Sudan."
The new country will also need to bring in experts to help
set up the airline, he said. He did not say how long it might
take to get the airline running or name any of the potential
The biggest carriers in the region include companies like
Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
South Sudan said last week China would provide a $158 million
loan to help finish a new airport in Juba.
The work will be done by Chinese companies and supervised by
South Sudan's transport ministry, Malek said.
"Once we're satisfied, we tell the minister of finance ...
to tell the Chinese Axim Bank that this part of work has been
done, you pay that company," he said.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan after voting for independence
in a referendum promised under a 2005 peace deal that ended
decades of civil war.
(Editing by Alexander Dziadosz and James Jukwey)