World Bank to provide $2 billion to Sudan

The International Development Association (IDA) will finance a total of 17 projects in sectors such as energy and agriculture

PHOTO/BERND JUTRCZENKA  -   Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

Sudan will receive 2 billion dollars in grants over the next year to overcome the serious economic situation. This was announced by World Bank President David Malpass during his visit to Khartoum. "I came to Sudan accompanied by a high-level delegation from the World Bank to support the country in this difficult phase," said the head of the financial institution.

Also, before his meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, Malpass said on his Twitter account that the World Bank "wants to support Sudan's efforts to reduce poverty, help economic growth and improve living standards for all Sudanese".

Meanwhile, Heba Muhammad Ali, advisor to the finance minister, announced before Malpass's arrival the agreement between the Sudanese government and the World Bank for the International Development Association (IDA), an agency of the World Bank, to finance a total of 17 "major projects" in the country. "The funds will go to energy, irrigation and agriculture projects, as well as other schemes in marginalised and post-conflict areas," she told SUNA, the state news agency

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PHOTO/AP - David Malpass, President of the World Bank
Sudan must overcome the economic problems inherited from the Omar al-Bashir regime

It is the first time in 40 years that a World Bank president has travelled to Sudan. "His visit comes at a key moment in Sudan's history," Hamdok said. The African country is undergoing a democratic transition after 30 years under the regime of Omar al-Bashir. In April 2019, a military coup toppled the dictator, ushering in a new political era in the country, but the current administration still has to deal with the economic problems of the al-Bashir era. "Two years ago, Sudan's transitional government inherited a badly damaged economy after decades of conflict and isolation," Malpass said. The World Bank president also acknowledged the "courageous reforms" the country has undertaken.

The Hamdok government called a series of measures aimed at transforming Sudan's economy and bringing the country back into the international community "local economic reforms". This economic programme, backed by the IMF and the World Bank, also involves austerity policies such as cutting fuel subsidies, which has led to an increase in the price of some basic necessities. 

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REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN - The head of Sudan's Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and Sudanese opposition coalition leader Ahmad al-Rabiah, celebrate the signing of the power-sharing agreement, following the overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir, in Khartoum, Sudan, August 17, 2019.

All of these reforms are aimed at alleviating the decades of isolation of the former regime and the effects of the harsh international sanctions imposed on Al Bashir during his years in office. In addition, the separation of South Sudan in 2011 after years of conflict exacerbated the economic crisis. The oil-rich region took more than half of government revenues and 95 per cent of oil exports.

The international community is committed to Sudan's development

Within the economic recovery process, the US has played a key role. After Washington removed Sudan from the list of governments that support terrorism, Khartoum began to engage on the international stage. Sudan was also able to repay its debts to the World Bank last March thanks to a US loan that made it eligible for development grants.

PHOTO/AP - Mike Pompeo with Sudan's General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council

Also, in July, the Paris Club cancelled a $14.1 billion debt to Sudan. The transitional government pledged to devote the money it ultimately defaulted on to reducing poverty in the country. The Paris Club is a financial institution that brings together the major public creditors of the developed world. The organisation is responsible for resolving the debt problems of emerging countries.

Malpass, during his trip to Sudan, assured that in addition to the World Bank, other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France "are ready to help Sudan overcome economic difficulties and support the democratic transition".

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AFP - Sudanese women celebrate in Khartoum after the signing of the constitutional declaration for a civilian transition between the Transitional Military Council and the opposition.
Political stability and the fight against terrorism, two more challenges in Sudan

In addition to the economic issue, the political situation in Sudan still lacks solidity. Recently, the country witnessed an attempted coup d'état. "It is essential to avoid political slippage, because there is no development without peace," said Malpass.

The thwarted military uprising has also led thousands of Sudanese to protest for an all-civilian transitional government. "The aim of these marches is to protect Sudan's democratic transition, and there is no way to achieve this without ending any association with the military council," the Association of Sudanese Professionals said in a statement.

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AFP/ ASHRAF SHAZLY - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok (centre) and Major General Malik Tayeb Khojali (left) inspect a guard of honour in El-Fasher, North Darfur.

Another major challenge for Khartoum is the growing terrorism in the region. On Tuesday, Sudanese authorities announced the dismantling of a jihadist cell associated with Daesh.  Egypt was looking for some of the 40 suspects arrested by the security forces, and Sudan agreed to hand over several of the detainees to its neighbouring country. Among those arrested were reportedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation considered terrorist by Cairo.

According to Al-Ain News, an Egyptian delegation will soon travel to Khartoum to discuss the extradition of these terrorists to Cairo. The meeting could also address counter-terrorism cooperation, a key issue for both countries.