Juba is situated along the scenic banks of the White Nile and the city stands proudly as the capital and largest city of South Sudan.
Originally established in the early 1920s by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in a quaint Bari village, Juba has undergone remarkable transformation over the years. It first gained prominence as the capital of Mongalla Province, witnessing steady growth and development.
However, it was in 2005, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, that Juba truly began to flourish. This historic agreement paved the way for Juba to become the capital of the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, marking a significant milestone in the region’s journey towards peace and self-governance.
Finally, in 2011, South Sudan achieved independence, and Juba was honored with the prestigious title of the nation’s capital.
While discussions about relocating the capital to Ramciel emerged, Juba remains the vibrant heart of South Sudan, pulsating with energy and cultural diversity.
With an area of 52 square kilometers and a metropolitan area spanning 336 square kilometers, Juba is home to a population of over half a million residents. Its dynamic urban landscape is a testament to the resilience and aspirations of its people.
About South Sudan
South Sudan, also known as Southern Sudan, is a country located in northeastern Africa. It boasts diverse landscapes, including lush savannas, swamplands, and rainforests that support a wide array of wildlife.
Prior to 2011, South Sudan was part of Sudan, its northern neighbor. The population of South Sudan is mainly composed of African cultures, with a majority adhering to Christian or animist beliefs.
However, it has had a long-standing conflict with Sudan’s predominantly Muslim and Arab government. The capital city of South Sudan is Juba.
The history of South Sudan dates back to the 15th to 19th centuries when many of its current ethnic groups settled in the region.
In the early 19th century, the Sudan region was invaded, and the southern part of Sudan was heavily exploited for slave trading.
By the late 19th century, Sudan came under British-Egyptian rule. However, there was greater resistance to British rule in the south compared to the north.
This led to a development disparity between the two regions, with the north receiving more attention for modernization efforts.
After Sudan gained independence in 1956, the country faced challenges in achieving unity among its diverse political constituencies, particularly in the south.
A conflict emerged between northern leaders who sought to impose Islamic law and culture throughout the country and those who opposed this policy.
The majority of the southern population feared further marginalization under the northern-dominated government, leading to a prolonged civil war from 1955 to 1972.
Although the Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972 temporarily halted the conflict, widespread fighting resumed in the following decade, leading to the second civil war from 1983 to 2005.
Despite numerous discussions and agreements between southern and northern leaders, progress toward peace was limited until the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
This landmark agreement ended the warfare and outlined measures for power-sharing, wealth distribution, and security in Sudan.
Importantly, it granted southern Sudan semi-autonomous status and set the stage for a referendum on independence after six years.
The eagerly awaited referendum finally took place in January 2011, with the people of southern Sudan overwhelmingly choosing to secede. Consequently, South Sudan declared its independence on July 9, 2011.
History of Juba
Nestled along the banks of the White Nile, Juba is not just the capital and largest city of South Sudan; it’s a place rich in history and resilience.
From its humble beginnings as a small Bari village, Juba has evolved into a thriving urban center, playing a pivotal role in the region’s journey.
Established in the early 1920s by the Church Missionary Society, Juba soon became the capital of Mongalla Province. The presence of the CMS Nugent Memorial Intermediate School and its strategic location along the Nile contributed to its selection as a new town site.
The city’s growth was accelerated by Greek merchants who built remarkable structures, including the Ivory Bank, Notos Lounge, and Juba Hotel.
Juba thrived as a vital trading hub under Anglo-Egyptian administration until Sudan’s independence in 1956.
However, Juba’s journey has not been without challenges. It witnessed the turmoil of civil wars, becoming a strategic location during the conflicts.
Yet, in 2005, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Juba rose as the interim seat and capital of the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, marking a turning point towards peace and stability.
On 9th July 2011, South Sudan declared its independence, and Juba became the world’s newest national capital. While discussions about relocating the capital to Ramciel emerged, Juba remained a vibrant center, attracting international organizations and fostering development.
Juba’s unique history and aspirations have shaped its identity. As we embrace the future, let us appreciate the journey that has brought Juba to this point—a city that continues to evolve, symbolizing the resilience, progress, and hope of South Sudan.
Note: The government’s plan to relocate the capital to Ramciel is still under consideration, and Juba remains the capital of South Sudan.
A City of Leadership and Connectivity
At the helm of Juba’s city administration is Mayor Stephen Wani Michael, leading the city council since its establishment in March 2011.
Working alongside him is Deputy Mayor David Lokonga Moses, bringing their expertise to guide the city’s development.
An additional ministerial committee was formed to ensure the cleanliness and sanitation of Juba, emphasizing the importance of a well-maintained environment.
Previously, Juba was divided into Juba, Kator, and Muniki payams before the formation of the standalone Juba City Council, which now serves as the county seat of Juba County.
Positioned as a river port, Juba marks the southern terminus of the Bahr al Jabal section of the White Nile. In the past, it was a bustling transport hub with vital road connections to Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While the civil war took its toll on Juba’s infrastructure, efforts are underway to restore its trade potential. The United Nations and the South Sudanese government are working to repair roads damaged during the conflict, although full restoration will require considerable time and resources.
The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) played a role in clearing and rebuilding roads leading to Uganda and Kenya.
These routes are crucial for people returning to their homes and rebuilding their lives. Presently, there are three paved roads in Juba, including a significant concrete road constructed by the British in the 1950s.
In collaboration with the Ugandan government, South Sudan aims to establish a railway link between Gulu in Northern Uganda and Juba, with a potential extension to Wau.
Plans also include the development of road networks between the two countries. Recent reports suggest the railway may connect directly with Kenya, bypassing Uganda.
Juba International Airport serves as a vital hub for humanitarian aid, UN missions, and passenger travel. Although the construction of a new terminal faced uncertainties due to fluctuating oil prices, progress resumed in early 2014.
Presently, Juba International Airport offers daily flights to Nairobi, Khartoum, Entebbe, and Addis Ababa. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) maintains a significant presence near the airport, facilitating their operations in the region.
Juba exemplifies strong leadership and a renewed focus on connectivity, positioning itself as a key center for trade, travel, and international cooperation.
A City of Economic Expansion and Rapid Growth
In recent years, Juba has experienced a remarkable economic boom, particularly since gaining independence. This surge in economic potential has attracted a significant influx of merchants, primarily from northern Sudan and East Africa, seeking new opportunities.
Many regional and international businesses have seized the prospect of growth and established a presence in Juba.
The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Kenya Commercial Bank, a prominent banking conglomerate, have set up their South Sudanese headquarters in the city, with an extensive branch network across the country.
Additionally, three indigenous South Sudanese commercial banks – Buffalo Commercial Bank, Ivory Bank, and Nile Commercial Bank – have chosen Juba as their headquarters.
Equity Bank, a leading regional financial services provider, also operates a branch in the city. The National Insurance Corporation (NIC), a renowned Ugandan insurance services provider, has established an office in Juba.
Despite economic challenges arising from the civil war in December 2013, Juba has continued to thrive, with ongoing construction projects driving its growth.
The city’s expansion can be attributed to the high demand for affordable housing and hotel accommodations. However, it is worth noting that Juba’s market landscape is transient, with traders often focused on short-term profits rather than long-term investments in storage facilities or shops, according to research from the Overseas Development Institute.
Juba holds the distinction of being the fastest-growing city in Africa. Its population has skyrocketed from just over 100,000 people in 2005 to over one million today.
The city exudes a vibrant boom-town atmosphere, characterized by the rapid emergence of businesses in various sectors, such as brick-making factories struggling to keep up with escalating demand, new banks, and a burgeoning mobile phone industry.
In conclusion, Juba, the capital and largest city of South Sudan, holds a significant place in the nation’s history and development.