Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir officially inaugurated Sudan’s first airplane production plant Sunday. The Safat Aviation Complex is located just outside of Khartoum in Karari.
The head of Safat, Brigadier Mirghani Idriss, told reporters that a five-year plan was implemented to produce the first model plane dubbed “Safat-0l,” a $15,000 two-seater propeller plane.
Idriss told Sudan’s state Suna news agency, that the planes would be Sudanese manufactured with up to 80 percent assistance from China and Russia. Within three years, he added, the plane manufacturing and maintenance would be “Sudanized” making the Safat Aviation Complex a regional center in North Africa.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, President al-Bashir told hundreds of attendees, “Today we have entered a new field, manufacturing planes. This is the beginning.”
The Minister of Industry, Jalal Youssef al-Digair, said that the new complex would meet the growing aviation needs of Sudan and would enhance research institutions throughout the country.
But with its political isolation, Sudan faces hurdles in its aviation pursuit. The United States tightened restrictions on trade with Sudan starting in 1997, accusing the government of human rights abuses and supporting terrorism. These restrictions have grown more inclusive as the US has shown concern over the Darfur region. The United Nations and European Union have also implemented limited embargos on the country. In March, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for President al-Bashir’s arrest, charging him with masterminding atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region.
This has not deterred President al-Bashir. Speaking to hundreds of supporters outside the new plant, al-Bashir said, “Sudan has its own military industry. It makes tanks, missiles and many types of guns, all made by Sudanese hands.”
“What we are doing will enrage our enemies.” he added. “Sanctions cannot stop development.”