flag South Sudan South Sudan: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

 For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

After decades of conflict, South Sudan became an independent state in 2011, but has suffered from social unrest and economic crisis. The peace agreement signed in September 2018 is expected to re-establish long lasting social peace and economic stability. However, the economy was hit hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic, locust invasions, falling oil prices and three consecutive years of extensive floods. After contracting by -6.6% in 2020, GDP growth rebounded to 5.3% in 2021, boosted by higher oil prices. According to IMF estimates, economic growth is expected to accelerate to 6.5% in 2022 before easing to 5.6% in 2023.

In 2021, despite the continuation of the Covid-19 crisis and another year of floods, South Sudan’s economy started to recover, supported by higher oil prices. The authorities successfully implemented a reform program aiming to restore macroeconomic stability by strengthening fiscal discipline, removing distortions in the foreign exchange market and improving transparency (IMF). The value of the South Sudanese pound stabilized and the gap between parallel and official rates was eliminated (IMF). From an estimated fiscal deficit of 7% GDP in FY 2020/21, a surplus of 2.6% GDP is expected for FY 2021/22, mostly due to the recovery of oil revenues and the reduction of Transitional Financial Agreement payments to Sudan (IMF). According to IMF estimates, public debt increased from an estimated 35.8% GDP in 2020 to 64.4% GDP in 2021. It is expected to decrease to 35.1% GDP in 2022 and 25.6% GDP in 2023, thanks to fiscal consolidation efforts (IMF). After skyrocketing to an estimated 550% in September 2016, inflation decreased sharply, but it remained volatile due to supply chain distortions, monetization of budget deficit and currency depreciation. The macroeconomic stabilization reforms contributed to a significant decline in inflation, but it remained high at an estimated 24% in 2020 and 23% in 2021. It is expected to remain stable at 24% in 2022 and to slightly reduce to 19.3% in 2023, still fuelled by higher food prices. Benefitting from buoyant oil revenues, the 2021/22 budget increases significantly allocations for social spending (education and health) and doubles the wage bill to offset an erosion of real wages (IMF). In addition to preserving macroeconomic stability, the authorities remain committed to strengthening governance and implementing public financial management reforms to tackle a legacy of non-concessional external debt (IMF). The peace agreement and the opening of four border crossings with Sudan are vital opportunities for reviving an economy that is not yet well-organised and largely dependent on Sudan. The country still has few asphalts routes and poor access to electricity and drinking water. Key challenges include peace and security concerns (ongoing conflicts in the Blue Nile, Darfur, and South Kordofan states), institutional and human capacity weaknesses, oil dependency, underdeveloped industry and infrastructure, vulnerability to climate change and widespread poverty.

The economic crisis has led to an acute deterioration in humanitarian conditions. About 60% of the country’s population is estimated to face food insecurity and more than 4 million people are displaced (IMF). Real disposable income is estimated to have declined by about 70% since independence in 2011, contributing to an increase in the poverty rate from 50% in 2012 to about 82% (IMF). The country is a victim of uncontrolled deforestation caused by the increase in illegal and lucrative timber collection. The lack of a central grid to supply electricity makes combating deforestation especially difficult. The country has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in the world (28%), poverty has increased to affect nearly 60% of the population, and according to the World Bank, unemployment rate was 14% of the workforce in 2020 (modeled ILO estimate). South Sudan is ranked 185th out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index published by UNDP. The COVID-19 crisis is expected to aggravate poverty and unemployment, with disproportionate effects on youth and women (AfDB).

Main Indicators 20202021202220232024
GDP (billions USD) 6.715.174.788.5510.87
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 487364328569704
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 36.464.752.329.723.2
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -0.93-0.140.410.18-0.06
Current Account (in % of GDP) -13.8-

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - October 2021.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
South Sudanese pound (SSP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 12.3826.5230.83n/a28.74

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Main Sectors of Industry

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 60.4 16.4 23.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 10.4 33.1 56.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) 21.6 -36.8 10.4

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 4,621,3884,671,3954,581,565

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 73.99%73.90%73.79%
Men activity rate 75.04%74.79%74.52%
Women activity rate 72.96%73.02%73.07%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database


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Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Sudan Tribune
BBC profile
Juba Monitor
The New Sudan Vision
Useful Resources
Minsitry of Mining (temporarily unavailable)
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
Bank of South Sudan (BOSS)

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Latest Update: February 2023