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South Sudan plans for the ‘little things’ it takes to start a country

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: In just a few hours, the Republic of South Sudan will become the 193 country of the world after years and years of fighting a civil war with its neighbor to the north. But becoming a new country takes planning and all kinds of preparation that you wouldn’t imagine.

And the BBC’s Peter Martell is with us now on his cell phone from Juba, the soon-to-be capital. Hi Peter.

PETER MARTELL: Hello. How are things?

CHIOTAKIS: We’re kind of on a disjointed cellphone line right now. There aren’t very many landlines in South Sudan. The infrastructure there I would image is No. 1 on the list, right?

MARTELL: South Sudan is a place that’s been left in ruins by years of war. Rebuilding that infrastructure is a top priority of the government here. There’s hardly any roads here. Very few hospitals, it’s one of the poorest and least developed parts of the world.

CHIOTAKIS: When a country is formed, Peter, some of the basic stuff is discussed, such as currency. What’s going on with that?

MARTELL: Yes, they’re preparing little things that you might forget about. They have to have a new country code for their telephones, Internet domain names, and of course a currency. And that’s a lot more complicated than just printing paper.

CHIOTAKIS: What are the plans for the city where you are — the capital city of Juba?

MARTELL: In previous years, people used to call it the world’s biggest village. But now there are new buildings springing up. There are some suggestions they want to build a whole new capital city to celebrate their country. But with the amount of development challenges that might be more of a precious hope than a practical plan.

CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Peter Martell in Juba, the capital city of the newest country on earth, South Sudan. Peter thank you.

MARTELL: Thank you very much indeed.

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