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South Sudan will switch to a new official time zone in February. Photo Nation Media Group South Sudan plans to reset its clock, moving back one hour on February 1. The change, which moves the country an hour behind its key trading partners Uganda and Kenya, is meant to align it to the time zone based on its geographical location. “The National Ministry of Labour informs all the civil service institutions, commissions, diplomatic missions, UN agencies, international/non-governmental organisations and the public at large that South Sudan has changed its official time from UTC +3 to UTC +2, which is based on South Sudan’s real location on the globe,” the Labour undersecretary Mary Hillary Wani Pitia said in statement on Friday. The Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is often interchanged with Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but while there is no time difference between UTC and GMT, the latter is a time zone used in some European and African countries. The dateline – an imaginary longitude 180o that runs from pole to pole – zig zags east and west to accommodate the needs and demands of countries along its route. Most countries use hourly offsets from GMT. Countries can, however, set their own time for political reasons or to keep the same time zone with border countries. The switch by South Sudan will see it move from the East African time zone (GMT +3) – observed by Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti – to the Central African time zone (GMT +2). Some of the countries in this time zone include Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa and Egypt. “The current time will be set back by one hour, meaning 1:00 am will be reset to 00:00 am effective from 1st February 2021,” said Ms Pitia. The change was approved by South Sudan’s Cabinet two weeks ago but came under heavy criticism by citizens on social media. The government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the country has not been using its real time. - Garang A. Malak, The EastAfrican

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