Blackwater founder seeks Asian investors for S. Sudan defense projects

A former leading U.S. defense contractor has selected South Sudan as his next market.

Erik Prince has begun investing to enhance the defense of the new republic of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011. Prince, the founder of Blackwater, said he regards South Sudan as part of an emerging market in Africa.

“Africa is so far the most unexplored part of the world, and I thinkChina has seen a lot of promise in Africa,” Prince said.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Prince said his new company, Frontier Resource Group, was seeking Asian investors. Earlier this month, Prince arrived in Hong Kong for meetings with potential Chinese investors and partners. In 2012, Beijing said it would provide $20 billion in loans to Africa by 2015.

“But the problem is if you go alone, you bear the country risk on your own,” Prince said. “You have to get support and maintenance there.”

In 2012, the United States issued a regulation that allowed defense and security exports to South Sudan. Industry sources said Juba was discussing the procurement of air defense and artillery systems with unnamed U.S. contractors.

Prince, now based in the United Arab Emirates, said FRG, which raised at least $100 million for projects in Africa, could help protect energy assets in South Sudan. The new country was said to produce some 375,000 barrels of crude oil per day. FRG has also invested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.

“People come to Africa to help [Africans] to build up the capabilities there and to show them both know-how and capital,” Prince said. “Our job is to put all these things together and make them good investment opportunities. We are the search radar for [Asian investors] in Africa because we have the expertise and we know how to measure and control the risks.”