The Executive Directors of the African Development Bank concluded a five-day Consultation Mission to Sudan on Tuesday, 15th February 2017 with a wrap-up meeting at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
During this mission, the EDs held discussions with President Omar Al-Bashir; officials of the ministries of Finance and Economic Planning; Foreign Affairs; Agriculture; Animal Wealth; Education; Health; Higher Education; Industry; Electricity; Mineral Resources; Oil; Social Security; and Transportation. They also met with officials of the Central Bank and Mamoun Beheiry Center named after the Bank’s first President. The mission met with development partners and had a working dinner with a cross section of the Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation. They visited two of the country’s main private sector companies, Zadna International Company Ltd. for Investment in North Khartoum and Kenana Sugar Company in White Nile State. The mission also held a meeting with project coordinators to ascertain the challenges in project implementation.
In his remarks, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mohamed Osman Suleiman Elrekabi expressed gratitude to the Bank for undertaking this mission reflecting the strong bond it has forged with the country over the years. He appealed to the Bank to scale up its assistance to the country as the Government seeks to consolidate reforms gains. He, however, regretted the fact that despite the implementation of a series of reforms by the Government of Sudan including 13 Staff Monitored Programs and the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for two years; the establishment of debt scenarios, the preparation of an arrears clearance and debt relief strategy and the reconciliation of at least 95% of debt, among others, debt relief is still not forthcoming. He, therefore, appealed to the Bank to use its convening power to assist Sudan on the issue so that the institution can begin to implement its High 5 development agenda in Sudan.
On his part, the Spokesperson for the EDs, Bright Erakpoweri Okogu expressed the mission’s gratitude to the Government for its warm reception and hospitality. Overall, he noted that the EDs feel a sense of optimism about the development prospects of Sudan going forward. He also congratulated the Government on the implementation of a series of reforms to address the country’s daunting challenges. He noted that the mission was a unique opportunity to appreciate the prevailing circumstances in the country, and thereafter gave an overview of the main findings of the mission.
Key findings of the mission::
The economic situation in the country is precarious with a deleterious impact on the population underscoring the need for urgent attention on the part of both the Government and the international community in order to avoid a social crisis in the country;
In that regard, there is need for the Government to intensify its social safety net program to cushion the impact of the reforms on the vulnerable and marginalized;
The current economic situation also underscores the need to maintain and deepen the momentum of reforms in order to ensure social cohesion and put the economy on a sustainable growth path while at the same time avoiding a disorderly adjustment;
In view of the limited fiscal space, there is a general consensus among development partners that Sudan requires substantial amount of financial assistance to address its current economic quagmire and implement programs related to the Economic Reform Program 2015-2019 and the High 5s.
Both the mission and resident development partners recognize the fact that Sudan’s external debt is unsustainable. Therefore, continuous engagement with the international community is imperative for HIPC debt relief;
In this respect, it is absolutely important for Sudan to revitalize the joint outreach process for debt relief in order to unlock concessional resources in the form of Foreign Direct Investment and Official Development Assistance;
Of equal importance is the need to maintain good relations with South Sudan to facilitate the joint outreach process and the implementation of the Zero Option;
In terms of creating a healthy political environment which augurs well for HIPC debt relief and for removing Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, the need for the Government to consolidate its peace initiatives both nationally and regionally was highlighted;
On the private sector front, it was deemed absolutely necessary to improve the investment climate to facilitate the operations of the private sector, which has been resilient throughout the period of sanctions;
The EDs assured the Government of the Bank’s continued support, especially in debt relief and the endeavours to reintegrate Sudan into the global economy in the post-sanctions era. They look forward to consolidating bilateral cooperation between the Bank and Sudan, its country of birth.
The Executive Director for Sudan, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, and the Bank’s Sudan Country Manager, Raubil Olaniyi Durowoju participated in the meetings.