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AfDB President concludes three-day official visit to Sudan with a meeting with the Minister of Finance
On March 1, 2017, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina concluded his three-day official visit to Sudan with a wrap-up meeting with the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. The meeting was attended by Senior Officials of Government, including the Undersecretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Central Bank Governor, the Sudanese Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire as well as the Bank’s Executive Director for Sudan, the Director General for Eastern Africa and the Country Manager in Sudan.
The President commended the Minister on the country’s impressive macroeconomic performance despite the daunting challenges, which he said was a reflection of the resilience of the economy. The meeting then focused on the issues emanating from the discussions held during the past three days of the visit, prominent among which was the support to the agricultural sector, which the President said will be in the context of the ongoing ENABLE Youth Program, which seeks to create employment opportunities for the youth along important agricultural value chains. Both parties expressed the need for value-addition to the livestock sub-sector and to gum Arabic in support of employment creation and poverty reduction. It was noted that Sudan can benefit from the Bank’s Feed Africa initiative to unlock its huge agricultural potential.
In the energy sector, Bank assistance in connecting Sudan to the Renaissance dam in Ethiopia and developing solar energy, through the participation of the private sector as Independent Power Providers (IPPs), was solicited. To this end, the Bank will assist Sudan to tap into the benefits of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative.
On support to the private sector, opportunities would be explored in the context of lines of credit to banks and the Africa50 infrastructure fund, which is for both project preparation and financing. Special emphasis would be placed on small- and medium-scale enterprises as vehicles for industrialization. It was noted that, in the interest of mobilizing resources for private investment, it would be useful for Sudan to participate in the Africa Investment Forum scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017.
In the discussion, the Kenana Sudan Company (KSC) was cited as a fully-fledged value chain private enterprise, whose experience and success should serve as best practice to be shared with other African countries in their industrialization efforts. KSC was noted to have first benefitted from Bank assistance in 1991 in the sum of US $42 million, with a capacity of 17,000 metric tons of sugar cane, which increased to 500,000 tons while its net worth increased from US $780 million to US $3.5 billion today. These encouraging results would encourage the Bank to further explore further possibilities of financing to enable KSC to scale up its operations with a view to creating more employment.
For debt relief, the President encouraged the Government to revitalize the Tripartite Committee on Debt comprising Sudan, South Sudan and the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), and reach out to the creditors for debt relief before the expiration of the Zero Option in September 2018. The Government was also encouraged to adopt the 2016 Addis Ababa Road Map for peace with a view to resolving all internal conflicts, improving relations with South Sudan and opening up humanitarian corridors in war-torn areas. In addition, the President reiterated that a good quality Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) is important for guiding development investment in the country and is a good practice that augurs well for debt relief.
Based on the Government’s request, the Bank’s support in the area of debt relief will entail providing technical assistance to the work of the AUHIP, updating the arrears clearance and debt relief strategy, and providing resources under Pillar II of the Transitional Support Facility in the event that Sudan becomes the first to reach the decision point for debt relief. The President encouraged the Government to take full advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the temporal lifting of sanctions to advance the debt relief agenda.
The issues of re-integrating Sudan into the global economy was discussed, with a proposal for the Bank to consider providing technical assistance to the Government for the preparation of a “Marshall Plan” in preparation for the post-sanctions era. To this end, the President suggested that the Vice-President Chief Economist will undertake a mission to Sudan to work out the modalities.
Both the President and the Minister expressed their resolve to strengthen the already fruitful cooperation between the Bank and the Government and to work together in the implementation of the High 5s. In this context, the Bank will accelerate the implementation of the ongoing portfolio and engage the Government in the initiation of new projects in the context of the new Country Brief 2017-2019.