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South Sudan's next task: build a nation from scratch

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"When I was in Juba, there was a lot of pride, and justifiably so, for the three or four paved roads they had," says Simon Freemantle, Africa economist for Standard Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa. "So the first priority for this country to start unlocking sustained economic growth is to focus on building infrastructure."

Much of that infrastructure growth will probably be directed down south to the nations of East Africa, including Kenya with its port access, as well as to Uganda and Ethiopia. South Sudan knows that it will have to maintain a good working relationship with Khartoum, and perhaps continue its current 50/50 oil-revenue sharing agreement with the North for the next five years or so, Mr. Freemantle says, because it has no other way of getting its oil out to markets without Khartoum.

But while South Sudan will certainly have its challenges, it may have an advantage over other African countries that gained independence in the early 1960s. It will have a lot more choices of economic partners to choose from, including India, China, and Malaysia, and "they are able to bargain from a better place now that there is some competition for the goods that they have to sell."

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