Broke South Sudan spends millions on surveillance drones

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Cash-strapped South Sudan has spent millions of dollars on Israeli surveillance drones and security cameras aimed at fighting rampant crime in the capital Juba, officials said Monday.

The first two drones and 11 cameras will be deployed by Israeli company Global Group, President Salva Kiir said at a launch event.

Criminals “can now be traced and they cannot get away with crime,” he said.

Exact price tag

“All the planes at the airport will be safe. Everybody can be screened wherever he or she is going,” President Kiir said, speaking at the drone control centre at a police training centre.

Edward Dimitiri, technology director at the Interior ministry, would not put an exact price tag on the project, which he said was costing “millions of dollars”.

Since the outbreak of a fresh civil war four years ago, South Sudan’s oil-based economy has all but collapsed, further impoverishing an already poor population, while the ongoing conflict has uprooted a third of the population and pushed millions more to the brink of starvation.

Related content:

“The drones are like helicopters, they can fly in the air, they can be zoomed in and out and one can tell if there’s a criminal suspect hiding elsewhere or running,” said Mr Kfir Shilder a company director at Global Group, adding there are plans to install more than 100 other cameras and deploy more drones.

The first cameras will be fitted around the State House, the ministerial quarter and the airport.

The project

Global is to manage operations until it has trained 150 South Sudanese police officers to take over.

But Mr Dimitiri admitted that sustaining the project might prove a problem for the government.

“Our challenge is money... how to manage or sustain this system. As you know the country is in crisis,” he said.

Can Kiir deliver on his promise of peace and stability in South Sudan?

Read Story:Can Kiir deliver on his promise of peace and stability in South Sudan?