H.E. Badr Al-Din Mahmoud Abbas (BA), Sudan’s Minister of Finance, tells Leading Edge how the country managed to attain economic stability in the midst of the global financial crisis. He also outlines Sudan’s plans to achieve the long-term goals of food security, poverty reduction and diversification of exports
I N T E R V I E W
LE: Sudan has posted strong economic growth in recent years. How are you looking to maintain that growth and boost investment in much needed projects?
BA: The Sudanese economy has suffered many shocks and tremors in the last decade, such as the global financial crisis and its repercussions, and the secession of southern Sudan, which resulted in the loss of 80% of the country’s export revenues. But the Sudanese economy did not collapse; it has demonstrated great capability and efficiency in coping with these shocks. Through economic and financial reforms, we succeeded in bringing economic stability, which indicates the country’s ability to innovate and renew, and to diversify the sources of growth and production in record time. It also shows the potential of this economy that is still waiting to be explored. For example, our success in making gold an essential component of the country’s exports in only a short time. We believe the combination of domestic and foreign investment will show the world how Sudan’s economy has the ability to contribute significantly to global economic growth.
LE: What attractions does the country hold for foreign investors?
BA: Sudan is a rich country full of natural resources. Investors are always welcome here in all sectors, including agriculture, banking, industry, mining, oil and gas. Many successful foreign companies are present here in Sudan, which proves the availability of real opportunities for investors from different parts of the world.
Sudan is a rich country full of natural resources. Investors are always welcome here
LE: Why would you encourage investors to take a closer look at Sudan?
BA: Many international reports mention that Sudan holds the solutions to three main international problems: energy, food and water. Indeed, Sudan not only has immense areas of uncultivated arable land — which are capable of feeding the whole of the Arab world — but abundant gold and mineral resources that can become major foreign exchange earners. Meanwhile, our oil reserves are ripe for further exploitation and there is a huge potential in renewable energy, specifically solar energy.
LE: What are the national policy goals expressed in the five-year plan?
BA: Sudan’s national policy goals include achieving food security, reducing poverty and increasing and diversifying agricultural exports. The proposed strategy to achieve these objectives includes a broad and comprehensive range of policy reforms and initiatives across all economic sectors, to increase productivity and returns. The government will also work on providing infrastructure in the form of dams, roads and water supply, creating partnerships with the private sector through FDI, BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer), loans, grants and creating an environment to encourage investment.
LE: What is your outlook for Sudan in the medium term?
BA: In the medium term, we expect economic growth to be driven by foreign investment in these great natural resources. The government also remains committed to maintaining macroeconomic stability by putting forward a diversification plan to promote the non-minerals sector, rehabilitate its infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, to emphasise inclusive growth. Aside from economic stability, Sudan is likewise working hard to secure more comprehensive political stability. In January 2014, President Omar al-Bashir announced conclusive plans for political, economic and social reforms that were covered by the National Dialogue initiative among all the country’s parties and political forces — from both inside Sudan and abroad.
LE: What is your message to international investors?
BA: My message to international investors is that the door is always open for you to come and explore the opportunities for profitable investment. Whoever wants to invest here is welcome. Seeing is believing, and that’s the only way to get a real impression of Sudan.
Key Takeaways MINISTRY OF FINANCE
- Sudan is a rich country, full of natural resources
- Investors are welcomed with open arms, and are encouraged to look into the wealth of opportunities in agriculture, banking, industry, mining, oil, and gas in particular
- There are abundant gold and mineral resources in the country, ripe for further exploitation
- Huge potential exists in renewable energy, especially solar energy
- The government is working with the private sector to improve the country’s infrastructure, from dams and roads to water supply