On Monday, February 27, 2017 in Khartoum, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Sudan, Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir, in the company of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badre Eldin Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to the country. Adesina was accompanied by the Executive Director, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, who represents Sudan on the Bank’s Board; the AfDB Director General (East), Gabriel Negatu; and Sudan Country Manager for the Bank, Abdul Kamara.
The hour-long meeting created an opportunity for the two leaders to chat on a number of issues critical to their bilateral cooperation. President Bashir welcomed the AfDB President and congratulated him on his ascension to the Bank’s Presidency and the tremendous achievements that he has made over the past year and a half.
President Adesina briefed the Sudanese President of the purpose of his visit, stressing that it will avail him with first-hand information on the development potential and challenges facing the Sudan as well as the measures taken by the Sudanese Government to address them. He informed the Sudanese President of his meeting with the Minister of Finance and his intention to hold similar high-level consultations with other Ministers and other Senior Government Officials on priority areas for future cooperation between the Bank and the Government of Sudan. President Adesina also reiterated that the Bank and Sudan have a long and inseparable history, as the Bank was established in Khartoum in 1963 its first President, Mamoun Beheiry, was Sudanese.
The Sudanese President was pleased with the visit and indicated that many opportunities exist for Sudan advance its development in spite of numerous challenges. He also alluded to possible areas and opportunities for collaboration with the Bank, including his initiative to erect a power transmission line from Sudan to the renaissance dam in Ethiopia, which he said was important for stimulating economic activities in the Blue Nile corridor.
Bashir explained the important role that Sudan plays in the regional integration and stressed the pressure that is mounting on his country from migrants from neighbouring countries. He alluded to the dilapidated state of the country’s railway due to the sanctions, as most of the parts are banned from entering Sudan. He encouraged the Bank President to consider assisting in this area.
The Sudanese President indicated other areas of cooperation, such as power infrastructure and electricity generation, and his intention to extend power network to Darfur and to Chad. He requested the Bank’s assistance in the area of debt relief as non-concessional borrowing is expensive. Bashir said he was doing his best to achieve peace, as peace and development are two sides of the same coin.
For his part, Adesina reiterated that the Bank has been steadfast in its engagement with Sudan despite the sanctions, with a current portfolio that has reached US $200 million despite the country’s arrears with the Bank. He took good note of the requests made by the Sudanese President and indicated the opportunities for collaboration in those areas, provided that the right conditions exist on the ground.
In particular, Adesina encouraged the Sudanese President to make unreserved efforts to speed up political outreach in search of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief. He indicated that the temporary lifting of the U.S. sanctions until July 12, 2017 creates a window of opportunity that Sudan needs to take advantage of to gain political will for a permanent removal of the sanctions and advance political outreach to creditors on debt relief. He emphasized the importance of the 2016 Addis Ababa Roadmap to Peace in Darfur and the need for all parties to adhere to its conditions and meet their obligations, so that permanent peace can prevail in Sudan. He concluded that the opportunity for the future is great, especially for agriculture, power and other areas of the High 5s, but that the conditions on the ground had to be right, with, among other things, debt relief out of the way.
President Bashir reassured the AfDB President that he will do his utmost best to achieve peace in accordance to the 2016 Addis Ababa Roadmap, create the conditions for a permanent removal of the U.S. sanctions by meeting the set benchmarks, and that he will engage with his South Sudanese counterparts to cooperate on the political outreach for debt relief.