The Kingdom of Morocco has agreed to help the recently independent republic of South Sudan to build a new capital city.
A $5m feasibility study, paid for by Morocco, will now be launched into the project following a two-day state visit by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Juba at the beginning of February.
No target date has been set for work to begin on the city.
Martin Elia Lomoro, South Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs, said the two-days visit symbolised the "strong willingness of Morocco to contribute to the consolidation of the stability and the peace process in South Sudan".
The government of South Sudan proposed relocating the capital to Ramciel when it became independent in 2011. The present capital, Juba, is the country’s largest city, but suffers from poor infrastructure and rapid unplanned growth.
Ramciel is located on the White Nile, at the geographical centre of the country, and about 200km north of Juba. There is currently no tarmacked road between the two settlements. Â
Morocco’s involvement in the city plan is being seen as part of a diplomatic efforts to gain ground with other African states and outmanoeuvre Algeria and South Africa, which have been trying to isolate the kingdom over its continuing occupation of the Western Sahara.
Morocco rejoined the African Union in January, more than 30 years after it withdrew in protest at its support for the Polisario Front rebels, who are fighting for an independent state in the former Spanish colony.
Image: Juba suffers from primitive infrastructure, and endemic violence (Egypt Air)
- Edited on 15 February to correct Martin Elia Lomoro’s name and his position as South Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs, not Morocco’s. Thanks for your comments.