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On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, engaged with representatives from Sudan’s private sector on available support to invigorate their contribution to the country’s economic development.
The meeting, which discussed the critical role of the private sector in the implementation of the High 5s, was chaired by Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badreldin Mahmoud Abass Mukhtar, who is also a Governor of the AfDB.
The Minister of Finance thanked the Bank its long history of support to Sudan’s private sector, especially the US $42-million support to the Kenana Sudan Company’s expansion project, through a loan in the 1990s from the African Development Bank and African Development Fund. The loan played a catalytic roll in enabling the agro-industrial complex to expand and grow into its current worth of over US $1.3 billion, making it Africa’s largest sugar company and world’s leading exporter of white sugar.
The President was accompanied by the Executive Director, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, representing Sudan at the AfDB; the Bank’s Director General for East Africa, Gabriel Negatu; and the Country Manager for Sudan, Abdul Kamara.
The interactive session focused on the Bank’s enhanced engagement with the private sector to facilitate the economic transformation of Sudan, especially in the key sectors of industry and agriculture. Key participants of the meeting were members of the Federation of Sudanese Businessmen and Employers, including its Chairman, Saud Al-Berair, as well as representatives of the Sudanese Businesswomen’s Association.
Al-Berair reiterated that the meeting with President Adesina was a special occasion for the private sector, and expressed appreciation for the Bank’s support to the country’s youth through the ENABLE Youth Program, which will promote employment creation and private sector development.
President Adesina pointed out the critical role of the private sector in promoting the resilience of Sudan despite the challenges posed by economic sanctions. He added that the Sudan Economic Reform Program has a focus on the private sector, whose 82% expected contribution to the economy makes it core to the country’s transformation.
Adesina emphasized that engaging the private sector fully requires the Bank to first support the Government towards achieving debt relief. The use of intermediary financing instruments can be explored in the medium term to support the private sector. The AfDB President highlighted the existence of Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), which presents a unique opportunity for promoting inclusive growth that leaves no one behind.
The AfDB President emphasized that the agriculture sector in Sudan provides a key area for private sector involvement. This is in addition to power and industry sector. The use of Independent Power Providers (IPPs) is a concept that can be used in Sudan to enhance private sector participation in the power sector.
He underscored that the success of these initiatives requires the Government’s role in improving the business environment. The use of Africa50 Fund can be explored too, for the benefit of the private sector in Sudan. In this regard, Amin Said Hamed, a private-sector consultant, expressed the need to enhance the capacity of the private sector to access the available funding opportunities. He mentioned that the improvement of the agriculture value chain is required for enhanced productivity especially of important products such as Arabic gum.
As an agro-based economy, the promotion of small and medium enterprises will assist to improve productivity in the agriculture sector. The representative of the Sudanese Businesswomen’s Association called for more capacity building, targeting women to enable them prepare bankable projects and equally take advantage of investment opportunities.
The AfDB President expressed satisfaction with the potential of private sector to promote economic transformation of Sudan. The youth already engaged in developing technology for gum Arabic farming are key and should be targeted and brought on board the ongoing ENABLE Youth Programme, he said.
President Adesina reiterated that, through decentralization, private sector officers are now based in the region to effectively manage origination and management of private-sector projects. This is a change already introduced in the Bank and this will support the creation of a vibrant industrial sector to support value addition needed for products such as gum arabic (acacia gum) and other agricultural products.
He informed the private sector that there are no funds that the Bank sets aside for private sector in Sudan. These resources are accessible based on the presentation of feasible funding proposals and fulfilment of set criteria for access to different types of private sector loans. The Bank’s private sector department will continue its dialogue with the prospective private sector investors in Sudan and inform them of the process to follow to access the funding.