Airline sees surge in demand for travel to South Sudan

Demand for air travel to South Sudan is increasing, prompting Kenya Airways to double its flights to the capital Juba.

South Sudan’s independence celebrations will take place this Saturday, after the region earlier in the year voted in favour of secession from the north. The referendum was a core component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of conflict between the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government.

Kenya Airways said that it will now fly twice daily to Juba from Nairobi. The airline first introduced the route one year ago.

According to a statement by the airline, there has been a considerable increase in travel to the region, both by individuals and company representatives looking for business opportunities.

“We are very encouraged and excited about the uptake of our services to Juba since we started flying there mid last year. Transport is a key element in the enhancement of trade and we believe that regular flights to the region will go a long way in enhancing trade between Kenya and Sudan,” commented Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni.

A number of foreign companies are currently eyeing opportunities in South Sudan. The region has few industries outside the oil sector and almost non-existent infrastructure.

“Smart investors, savvy analysts and individuals familiar with emerging markets know that southern Sudan is poised to become Africa’s next best bet,” says David Raad, a consultant who helps businesses explore and invest in the region.

Raad told How we made it in Africa in an earlier interview that health issues are among the major risks of doing business in South Sudan. “It is an inhospitable area. Malaria and other debilitating diseases are widespread and deadly. Medical services are limited. Culturally the southern Sudanese people are warm, welcoming and very law abiding, so foreigners’ physical safety isn’t really a problem. Robbery is very uncommon although there were a few limited instances of robbery of foreigners several years ago.”