South Sudan and China on Thursday signed a loan agreement worth 248.8 million U.S. dollars for the establishment of an Air Traffic Management (ATM) system in the world's youngest country.
Under the pact, the two governments agreed that the money will be channeled through the Export-Import Bank of China.
Transport Minister John Luke Jok said South Sudan currently has no facility or capacity to provide air traffic monitoring and control services for itself and relies on neighboring Sudan for ATM service.
Jok said the project to be undertaken by the China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. will take three years to complete.
"The project is great and we are so happy it reached this stage. Our greatest happiness goes to the Chinese embassy and the people of China for helping us build our own air traffic management system," Jok said.
Finance and Economic Planning Minister Stephen Dhieu Dua said the ATM would be a key infrastructure for safeguarding national security and in generating revenue for the cash-strapped government.
Dua appreciated the Chinese government for its continued support geared towards reconstruction of the war-torn nation.
"We thank our governments for bringing the two people together and we are proud of our friendship with the people of China. I want to thank the Chinese embassy in South Sudan for strengthening our bilateral relations with China," Dua said.
"We are also negotiating with the Chinese government, Chinese companies and financial institutions to fund other economic and social services projects in South Sudan," he added.
Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan He Xiangdong said once the project is completed, it will enable South Sudan to collect air traffic fees, improve monitoring of their air space and enhance safeguarding of its sovereignty.