COUNTRY NAME: Republic of Sudan
LAND AREA: 2,4 million km2
POPULATION: 44 million (2010 est.)
LANGUAGE: Arabic, English
CURRENCY: 1 Sudanese Pound (SDG) = 100 Qirsh; 1 EUR = 3.1 SDG (Nov. 2010)
MAIN CITIES: Khartoum (capital), Omdurman, Atbara, Port-Sudan, El-Obeid, El-Fasher, Juba
NATIONAL DAY: 1 January – Independence Day
TIME ZONE: Standard time is GMT + 2
Sudan is the largest and one of the most diverse countries in Africa, a home to deserts, mountain ranges, fertile agricultural lands and rain forests. The country borders the Red Sea and is located between Egypt and Eritrea. Its natural resources are substantial, but its main resources are oil and gas. Other resources include iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver and gold. Sudan has huge oil reserves, including potentially large undiscovered reserves, which makes it attractive to foreign investors. The country has suffered from protracted internal disputes over many years and been subject to sanctions as a result of unresolved political conflicts in regions like Darfur.
Despite a weak final quarter in 2008, Sudan’s economic indicators remained fairly strong during the year, while inflation trends mirrored developments in world food prices. Real GDP growth was estimated at about 7% in 2008, with non-oil growth of 8.5%—compared with 10 and 7.5%, respectively in 2007, according to an IMF report issued on 21 July 2009. The buoyant non-oil growth, driven by the services sector, compensated for lower oil production. Sudan was hit by the global crisis, mostly through a sharp decline in oil revenues. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the sharp drop in oil prices put significant pressure on public finances, leading to some arrears accumulation. The decline in oil revenues, coupled with continued weakness in non-oil collections and financing rigidities, implied a sharp reduction in Sudan’s overall resources. Annual oil revenues for the period 2009–12 are projected to be 6 percentage points of GDP lower than in 2005–08. The news prompted the IMF to warn of the risks that the country’s major achievements of the past several years, in terms of maintaining macroeconomic stability and strong growth, could be jeopardised. Foreign exchange reserves fell sharply to less than two weeks of imports. Real GDP growth is expected to nearly halve in 2009, while inflation is projected to decline to single digits. Total oil production is projected to increase somewhat in 2009, but the non-oil sector is likely to slow down significantly owing to the global slowdown and the impact of domestic demand policies aimed at containing import pressures in the face of declining foreign exchange reserves. Both the services and agricultural sectors would be affected by lower inflows of foreign direct investment. Overall real GDP growth is projected at about 4% in 2009 and should pick-up slightly to 5% in 2010. Average inflation is expected to decline to 9%, reflecting lower world food prices and tighter financial policies.
Oil & Gas Sector
Sudan is still one of the most unexplored oil territories in Africa and the Middle East. The country has estimated oil reserves of about 900 million barrels and estimated gas reserves of about 100 billion cubic metres. Most current production comes from the Melut and Muglad basins. In 2005, the country earned $4.8bn in oil export revenues. There are ambitious plans to develop the oil and gas resources. The government in Khartoum aims to increase production to 600,000 b/d by the end of 2007 and to 800,000 b/d in 2008, from about 500,000 b/d in mid-2007. State oil company Sudan National Petroleum Corporation (Sudapet) is active in the oil exploration and production sector, working in partnership with foreign, largely Asian, companies to raise oil output from an estimated 500,000b/d in 2008 to a forecasted 520,000b/d in 2009. The acceptance of an international arbitration ruling issued on 22 July 2009 over the disputed Abyei field was widely viewed as an encouraging development giving a boost to peace and reconciliation in the country. The ruling from the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) redrew the boundaries of Sudan’s oil-rich Abyei region and ceded some productive oilfields to the north side. Both the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) pledged to respect the international arbitration decision. The boundary dispute over Abyei had been one of the most sensitive issues in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. The decision was welcomed by countries internationally, including China, which is a major trade partner for Sudan; China and Sudan established diplomatic ties in 1959 and bilateral trade stood a $8.2 billion in 2008.
After oil and gas Sudan’s primary resources are in the agricultural sector which has great potential for development to increase productivity. It expanded at the average rate of 8.5% per annum during the last decade. The Gulf States and countries such as China have demonstrated an increased interest in investing in the sector. In June 2009, a conference was held in Khartoum to explore the possibilities of Sino-Sudanese cooperation and partnership in the area of agriculture with the aim of developing strategic partnership between the resources of both countries including land, water, technical know how and financial resources. Although the country is trying to diversify its cash crops, cotton and gum Arabic remain major agricultural exports. Grain sorghum is the principal food crop, and wheat is grown for domestic consumption. Sesame seeds and peanuts are also cultivated for domestic consumption as well as increasingly for export. Livestock production has vast potential, and many animals, particularly camels and sheep, are exported to other Arab countries. However, Sudan remains a net importer of food because of problems of irrigation and transportation which act as constraints to the development of a more dynamic agricultural economy. Cash crops grown under irrigation include cotton and cottonseed, which is of primary importance to the economy, sesame, sugarcane, peanuts, dates, citrus fruits, yams, tomatoes, mangoes, coffee, and tobacco. The main subsistence crops produced in Sudan are sorghum, millet, wheat, cowpeas, beans, pulses, corn, and barley. Cotton is the principal export crop and an integral part of the country’s economy and Sudan is the world’s third largest producer of sesame after India and China.
Sudan’s Minister for Industry, Eng. Al Ahmed Osman, indicated that the country wants to boost its leather exports in the coming five years so that their revenues will exceed $150 million instead of $30mn at present. Speaking at a meeting of the higher committee for development of exports and investment in the industrial sector, the minister also referred to plans to increase the exports of ethanol fuel, sugar, medicines and ceramics, Sudanese news agency SUNA reported on 10 July 2009.
Sudan is working with the IMF to strengthen the country’s financial sector by ensuring that banks comply with regulations. The Central Bank of Sudan will actively enforce prudential standards and ensure that all banks comply with existing regulations. A plan is being prepared to restructure the Omdurman National Bank(ONB) in line with recommendations of an independent audit completed in 2008 with the ultimate objective of privatising the bank.
Sudatel, the state-controlled telecoms operator and Sudan’s second-largest mobile phone operator, generated net profits of $164.4m in 2008. In February 2009, Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group launched the Vivacell mobile network to become the fourth mobile operator in Sudan. Kuwaiti and South African mobile phone giants had already found the Sudan market a difficult one due to the expense and time involved in building networks capable of reaching the vast majority of the population. Fattouch won a licence from the government of South Sudan. Under the 2005 peace accord, the south had the right to licence two mobile phone operators. Vivacell is a relaunch of Network of the World, a Sudanese-owned company that was set up soon after the peace accord was signed. The south awarded its other licence to Gemtel, a Ugandan operator. In addition, Zain, MTN and the state-controlled third nationwide operator Sudani are all expanding into the southern parts of the country.
Source: Austro-Arab Trade Directory 2011.
The mentioned data are subject to modification. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of the details provided.
Last modified: 28 January 2011