H.E. Dr Mohamed Yousif Ali (MY), Sudan’s Minister of Industry, talks about the country’s priorities for development as well as the advantages it offers to investors, namely a wide offering of natural resources and access to markets in the Arab world and throughout the African continent
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LE: What are the Ministry’s priorities for the next two years, in terms of attracting investment?
MY: We are in the process of industrialisation. Our first priority is to modernise the existing sectors, specifically the textile and food industries, and small- and medium-sized enterprises. This goes hand in hand with the Sudanese plan to share our resources and make them available to other Arab countries, in order to help with food security in the region; and that goes together with agriculture and agro-industry. Those are our main targets.
LE: Where would you recommend foreign investors invest and what are the main projects planned or already underway?
MY: There is a shortage of infrastructure, specifically in electricity generation. That is one of the areas where there is a big opportunity for foreign investors to step in. We know the responsibility is mainly the government’s, but as the funds available to the government are not sufficient, the sector is opening up to private investors as well.
For the Ministry, as I said before, the focus is on agro-industry. We are looking specifically for more investment in the entire supply chain of animal husbandry and meat processing. This means there are opportunities in meat processing, as well as in the leather and textile industries. Investors can take advantage of the many resources we have in terms of animal husbandry and agricultural resources. Within agro-industry, we also have opportunities for the production of sugar and edible oils. These are the areas we believe will add to the growth of the Sudanese economy in the short term. We also expect that investors will get a good return on their investment in these sectors.
LE: There are a lot of countries looking for investment. Why would you tell an investor to look at Sudan, and more specifically, why invest in the industrial sector?
MY: Sudan is one of the countries most endowed with natural and agricultural resources. We are one of the three or four countries on earth with the capacity to produce food for the entire world. Sudan is well situated, in an area in the middle of Africa and in the Arab world, where there are very good markets. Our country is well connected to a geographic area that is home to 600 million people. You can’t produce without first securing a market, and Sudan is connected to both the African and Arab worlds, through agreements that open up a range of markets for us. So it makes good sense for investors to have a base in Sudan and travel from here to the other markets, such as the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Dakar or South Africa. A network has been built that links these areas.
Secondly, we are a young nation and we also have a highly educated workforce, which makes it easy for investors to find people to employ.
LE: What is your final message to international investors?
MY: As I said before, Sudan is one of the best-connected countries in the region. When China first came to Africa, it came through Sudan. By starting here, China opened the doors to many other countries and markets. We also have links to Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia. Sudan is also well known as a peaceful society.
The key to our success is the availability of raw materials here. All these natural resources are a good incentive for investors to choose Sudan as investment partner over other countries. Everything is still available in the country, because we are a virgin land. If you come now, you can be the first to tap into those resources and gain knowledge of the country, the market and the future growth here. Competition is not fierce, so it is possible to develop your industry quickly. Sudan has access to the sea, with the longest coastline on the Red Sea, about 800km. With 70% of international trade passing through the Red Sea, we have access to one of the busiest waterways in the world. Although our country’s population is not very large, it is the cultural connection to other nations that makes Sudan unique, and a worthwhile investment.
Key Takeaways – Minister of industry
- 70% of international trade passes through the Red Sea
- Priorities include the modernisation of the textile and food industries as well as SMEs
- Sudan offers great opportunities for investment in electricity generation
- In agro-industry, there are a wealth of opportunities for investment in sugar and edible oils
- WEB: www.industry.gov.ed