April 18, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) depreciated further against the United States Dollars (USD) in the black market in the third week of April, hitting a new low.
$1 sales for 162 SSP, up from $1 to 145 SSP last week in the parallel market.
“But when you are buying from the traders [money exchange dealers], they will charge you 17,000 South Sudanese Pounds for 100 [U.S.] dollars,” said James Nhial who deals in money exchange in Customs Market, the second largest market in Juba.
South Sudan floated the fixed exchange rate in December 2015 and there is no official foreign currencies rate set by the government since then.
For the landlocked country, which depends on import for food items, the depreciation of South Sudanese Pounds against the U.S. dollar is promptly reflected in the market.
“Today, a litre and half [1.5L] of bottled mineral water has surged to 60 SSP from 40 SSP at the beginning of this month,” said Ahmed Musa, a Somalia shopkeeper in Sherikaat, a southern suburb of Juba.
However, a half liter of bottled water costs 100 SSP in hotels in Juba town, a no-go zone for most of South Sudanese.
“For those of us who are government employees, we don’t go to those hotels – those places are reserved for foreigners and top government officials,” said Ayuel, a South Sudanese government employee.
Ayuel added that the “real problem is not luxury dining in hotels but what to put on the table at home for the kids.”
A 50 kg of maize flour costs 5,500 SSP – doubling the wages paid to senior government director.
South Sudan economy depends on oil for up to 98%. The declined of oil prices and the war triggered off an economic crisis in 2015.
Some economists say inflation has now reached 900% and South Sudanese Pounds has lost more than 90% of its value since December 2015 – when the fixed exchange rate for SSP against USD was floated.