Anticipation continues to grow with regard to the Sudan Development Program, a special government program on behalf of the Government of Sudan that will look to promote bilateral relations between the country and the rest of the world by providing international business with direct access to ministers, government officials and the local private sector.
The program was launched on 14 November 2005, with the holding of a special signing ceremony, at which the Sudanese Investment Minister H.E. Malik Aggar Ayar confirmed the government’s commitment to improving trade ties and increasing investment into Sudan. During the ceremony Mr Aggar signed an agreement with the program directors, which confirmed that the initiative will have the full support of Sudan’s new Unity Government.
Sudan is currently undergoing an investment drive, as it looks to roll back the shackles on private enterprise and announce that the country is “open for business”. The Sudan Development Program will be one of the principal factors in the country’s economic regeneration, as it looks to the Sudanese private sector to increase levels of competition and build relationships with global commerce.
Much of the optimism surrounding Sudan’s economic prospects stems from the successful formation of the Unity Government, which has provided the country with its most stable political environment for some time after more than two years of negotiations. The Government – which includes representatives from both the Central Government in Khartoum and the Southern People’s Liberation Movement, the dominant power within the southern region – was formed in September 2005, a result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2005.
The new government is making great strides to embrace the whole of Sudan within its economic objectives, and the signing of the agreement by Mr Aggar – a former SPLM member – along with attendance from eight other government ministries, demonstrates the commitment to maximising the country’s abundant potential.
“Sudan is a country rich in natural resources – with a thriving oil industry as the main source of its economic growth – and one that is seeking political stability through increased global commercial participation,” said a spokesman for the program. However, Sudan’s natural resources do not begin and end with oil. Sudan is one of the few remaining countries in the world to possess a huge wealth of undiscovered natural minerals, while agriculture also plays a huge role within the country’s economy.
Key infrastructure projects such as improved roads, public services and transport also provide tremendous business opportunities, with donors having pledged funds projects such as the Lokichoggio-Kapoeta-Juba-Road and the planned railway connecting Sudan with the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Sudan’s healthcare sector is also in serious need of improvement, with levels well below those of its neighbouring countries. The expansive land mass within Sudan and variable climate also aids Sudan’s burgeoning tourism sector.
The ceremony in Khartoum also featured an address from the Mr Asif Faiz, Country Manager of the World Bank, who declared that the World Bank had similar objectives for aiding the country and was keen to offer its support.
This announcement was timely, as the project looks to increase momentum ahead of an inaugural summit, to take place in Dubai on 12-14 February. The summit will look to address all of the key issues across Sudan’s many business sectors, welcoming ministers, ministry officials, senior corporate executives and local businesses in Sudan.
The Government has already confirmed that the summit will enjoy a large ministerial presence, while registration for commercial companies has already begun, with passes and sponsorship opportunities available via the Sudan Development Program website: www.sudandevelopmentprogram.org