As the South Sudan Oil and Power Conference kicked off in Juba Tuesday, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s minister of presidential affairs, drew the investors’ attention to infrastructure development.
Marial, who was the guest of honor at the launch of the conference, called on the oil prospectors to not only focus on oil but also venture into the construction of roads, which he says is equally lucrative.
“Roads in South Sudan are a priority. We have 14,000 km of roads to be built. That’s an investment, you should come in. And it is properly mapped out, properly planned, all we lack is to get the money to build them. Although people know we have a lot of resources under the ground which is not useful to our people, it has not been possible for us to get loans so that we can proceed,” he said.
Marial insisted that if the government were to get loans for infrastructure, it would be easy to build roads across the country.
“Now ( I ) am inviting you, when you hear about infrastructure in South Sudan it is a lucrative business that requires investment from people who really want to make profits in the long term,” he urged.
According to the minister, the country is stable and conducive to investment, saying investments would strengthen the private sector and create jobs. He added that the government is implementing a new policy to ensure transparency in the oil sector.
“The recent recommencement of oil production in Block 5 and other blocks which have been advertised, is a commitment of a new policy in the oil industry to be transparent because there were a lot of accusations that oil in South Sudan is given under the table, that’s not true now. So these blocks are out for the investors to apply for and am sure it will be a great help not only to this country but even for your investment,” he assured.
For his part, the minister of petroleum Puot Kang said the government is working with Sudan to increase oil production in the neighboring nations.
The two-day conference is being held under the theme, ‘Build the Nation, Capital raising and innovative financing to build critical infrastructure and energy projects’.
The International Monetary Fund accepts Sudan into the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative, meaning it can finally access debt forgiveness and new funds
Sudan received approval from the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, June 29, for relief on more than $56 billion in debt and new IMF funding of $2.5 billion over three years.
The IMF has accepted the East African country into the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative based on the country’s commitment to macroeconomic reforms, it said, meaning Sudan can finally access debt forgiveness and new funds. Sudan is the penultimate candidate for the IMF-World Bank program and by far the largest debt holder.
Now at the program’s “decision point,” Sudan will see its external debt drop to about $30 billion relatively soon. It will then fall to $6 billion when Sudan achieves irrevocable debt relief after an estimated three years, at the “completion point,” IMF mission head Carol Baker said.
Analysts said the HIPC decision came unusually quickly, a product of international goodwill toward Sudan’s civilian leaders sharing power with the military during a fragile political transition and acknowledgment of rapid, painful economic reforms.
“It’s not over yet but this is a really significant milestone on the country’s path to a more prosperous future,” said Ian Clark, partner at legal firm White & Case, which is advising the government on debt restructuring through the HIPC with financial adviser Lazard.
Deepened by decades of isolation and sanctions, Sudan’s economic crisis includes inflation approaching 400%, shortages of basic goods and services, and a spike in food insecurity.
“This is a big day for Sudan and reaffirms that all the efforts and sacrifices of the Sudanese people are recognized and rewarded,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in a statement.
Under Omar al-Bashir, ousted as president after a popular uprising in April 2019, Sudan accumulated massive arrears, or unpaid interest and penalties, that grew to account for 85% of the country’s total debt. Its power-sharing deal is due to last until the end of 2023.
Sudan is still calculating its full debt, but in a March report the IMF said the country owed $19 billion to Paris Club countries and the same to non-Paris Club countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and China as of the end of 2019. Its large commercial debts of at least $6 billion are roughly matched by what it owed to multilateral organizations.
Sudan’s arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank were settled earlier this year, and the IMF announced on Tuesday that its arrears were also resolved with help from a French bridge loan.
Next month, the Paris Club will decide on the proportion of debt it will forgive, expected around 70%, and a comparable agreement is expected to apply to other creditors, subject to individual negotiations.
The HIPC program has been far from a panacea: Three of its graduates – Ethiopia, Zambia, and Chad – are currently applying for debt relief under the G20 common framework program launched in 2020. Others such as Mozambique and Congo have also been forced to restructure.
The $2.5 billion in new funding is a combination of grants and cheap loans that the IMF calls an “extended credit facility.” This will provide Sudan much needed direct financing but requires that Sudan push ahead with reforms also required for permanent debt relief.
Some $1.4 billion of the total was dispersed immediately, the IMF said, in order to repay France. The remainder will be disbursed over the next 39 months.
“We are looking to make space for private sector-led growth to create jobs,” including by reducing the country’s need to print money, said Baker.
Sudan must demonstrate it has achieved macroeconomic stability and improved governance and that it has used the new “fiscal breathing space” to reduce poverty, finance ministry senior adviser Magdi Amin told Reuters. Khartoum cannot fall back into arrears on its remaining debt for the relief to be made permanent, he added.
That is crucial for Sudan’s overburdened government, which Baker said inherited reserves at less than a week’s worth of imports from the Bashir regime. It routinely struggles to import fuel, causing frequent power cuts.
The IMF estimated in April that Sudan needs more than $7 billion in external financing over the next two years.
The reforms so far have caused food and transportation costs to surge, forcing Sudanese people to make sacrifices. There are frequent protests, including demonstrations planned on Wednesday, June 30.
“It’s imperative that [the government] communicate properly to the population…on this so people don’t look up and just see the pain,” said Jonas Horner, Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group. – Rappler.com
Sudanese authorities have arrested individuals they believe are tied to the former regime and were allegedly planning disruption before Wednesday’s processions.
Sudanese authorities on Sunday arrested a group they say are affiliated to the former regime and were allegedly plotting to cause havoc in the country as it marks the second anniversary of protests.
A government committee responsible for pursuing and arresting figures linked to Bashir said the arrests came after close monitoring and information that confirmed they were planning riots ahead of processions.
The processions planned for Wednesday are to mark two years since protests broke out in retaliation to a deadly military clampdown on demonstrators in the capital Khartoum on 30 June.
The committee said in a statement viewed by The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the violence would have “undermined the constitutional order,” adding that those arrested will face the law.
Some of the most prominent detainees are retired Maj. Gen. Muhammad Hamid Tabidi, who was the director of the media department in the security and intelligence agency, as well as activist Muhannad Al-Sheikh from the banned National Congress Party.
Wednesday also marks the day Bashir took power in 1989.
An interim civilian-military government was set up after a popular revolt led to the dismissal of Bashir in April 2019.
By Mohammed Alamin June 27, 2021, 12:46 AM GMT+2 Updated on June 27, 2021, 9:42 AM GMT+2
Sudan indicated it may be ready to hand over toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court, which has indicted him on war crimes and genocide charges.
The pledge to surrender individuals wanted by the ICC was made Saturday by Federal Affairs Minister Buthaina Dinar, who didn’t specifically name anyone. Bashir, who was overthrown in 2019 and later jailed for corruption, is wanted by The Hague-based court on charges related to the conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.
Authorities have “generally decided on the handover of the criminals to the ICC,” but the court needs to resolve its procedures, Dinar told reporters in Khartoum, the capital. Some of the people wanted are already standing trial in Sudan on local charges, she said.
Cabinet Affairs Minister Khaled Omar Youssef also announced Saturday emergency cuts to spending, including halving the amount allocated to overseas trips and reducing budgets for embassies by 25%.
Sudan is battling to revive an economy ravaged by mismanagement and sanctions under Bashir, who made the country a pariah in the West for much of his three-decade rule. The North African nation may hear this week whether it’s eligible for special assistance under the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s heavily indebted poor countries initiative that could help it clear much of its estimated $60 billion of outstanding foreign debt.
The transitional government in Sudan, an uneasy combination of military and civilian officials, has previously said that members of the former regime indicted by the ICC would face the court, whether in the Netherlands or in their home country.
KHARTOUM, June 26 (Reuters) – Sudan will cut its government spending and increase social spending, the cabinet said on Saturday, after completing a raft of rapid economic reforms this month that threaten to compound pressures on the majority of the population.
Earlier this month, Sudan fully removed subsidies on car petrol and diesel, and in February it devalued its currency and began a policy of a flexible managed float.
Last week it eliminated its customs exchange rate, used to calculate import duties, as the final step in a devaluation of its local currency.
The country will cut costs of external official trips by 50%, reduce fuel quotas for government vehicles by 20%, sell all surplus government vehicles and cut embassies’ budgets by 25% among other measures, the cabinet said on Saturday after three days of closed meetings.
The government will expand the registration of a family support project called Thamarat or Fruits to include three million families or about 15 million people within two months, it added.
Through the program financed by the World Bank and other donors, Sudan is paying out monthly cash allowances to these families to ease economic pain.
The new measures include increasing the budget of another program that was meant to provide cheap food commodities from two billion Sudanese pounds ($4.51 million) to 10 billion pounds ($22.54 million).
The government will pay a monthly grant of 10 billion pounds to all state workers, not subject to taxes, starting from July 1. Most of the grant will be allocated to the lowest grades of workers.
It also promised to review the salary structure and to apply a new improved one starting from the fiscal year 2022.
Sudan is emerging from decades of economic sanctions and isolation under ousted former President Omar al-Bashir.
It had built up huge arrears on its debt, but has made rapid progress towards having much of it forgiven under the IMF and World Bank’s Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) scheme, which would reopen access to badly needed cheap international financing.
The IMF said on Tuesday it has secured sufficient financing pledges to allow it to provide comprehensive debt relief to Sudan, clearing a final hurdle towards wider relief on external debt of at least $50 billion.
($1 = 443.6642 Sudanese pounds)Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Chris Reese
The Sudanese deposed a dictator, but some fear true stability can never come until the truth is revealed about who killed more than a hundred protesters.
By Simon Marks June 26, 2021
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Two years after more than 100 young Sudanese were killed in a revolution that toppled a dictator, their bodies lie in limbo in a corner of the capital.
A deathly stench wafts from the morgue where the bodies are being kept; power outages are frequent and the summer heat intense. Outside, friends and relatives are keeping vigil, angered that the authorities have failed to carry out autopsies.
The government, they believe, is trying to suppress evidence that could provide the accountability they crave for the deaths of their loved ones.
“They’re intentionally delaying the results,” said Muez Mohammed, whose brother Saeed was shot dead by Sudanese security forces on June 3, 2019. “Everyone knows who killed the people.”
The macabre scene is a mark of the unfinished business and unrealized hopes from Sudan’s revolution. The country’s transition to democracy has been fragile, with civilian and military leaders still jousting for power. Little makes that clearer than the tensions over the bodies in the morgue.
In June 2019, at the height of the revolution, soldiers opened fire on hundreds of people staging a sit-in in the capital, Khartoum, a brutal display intended to show that while civilian protesters may have ousted Sudan’s longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir, two months earlier, it was the military that would decide the country’s future.
Now, families of the victims and pro-democracy groups are warily preparing for mass protests on June 30 to mark their frustration. They say they’re still waiting for members of the police, the Sudanese Armed Forces or the Rapid Support Forces — militias linked to atrocities in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan dating back to the beginning of the century — to be held accountable for the violent crackdown.
In interviews, forensic experts, state-appointed investigators and Sudan’s former attorney general, who resigned last month, said the inquiry into the killing was being stymied by the security forces and by attempts to cover up the evidence.
Officials involved with the inquiry — a justice ministry official, the former attorney general and a senior investigator — said investigators had recently uncovered a mass grave outside Khartoum, in Omdurman, containing the bodies of several hundred people they suspect were killed when the soldiers opened fire in Khartoum on June 3, 2019. If that is confirmed, the death toll from that day will turn out to be far higher than known.
Forensic experts sent by United States Agency for International Development are to arrive in Sudan next month, investigators here said, to make a preliminary assessment of the site. An agency spokesperson said the United States was supporting transitional justice efforts in Sudan, including “providing specialized expertise, where requested, in line with international standards.”
In May, Sudan’s attorney general, Taj-Elsir el-Hebir, resigned, saying it appeared that factions within the security forces were withholding evidence from his office, which is investigating the killings.
“We have reasons to believe that this relates to the sit-in,” Mr. el-Hebir said. “But we feel like there is a conflict of interest.”
Mr. El-Hebir said investigators had amassed evidence, conducting interviews with people who live close to the grave site to ascertain when the bodies arrived, how they were transported and what vehicles were used. “We have very important witnesses who testified,” he said.
Delivering justice in the case is seen as a critical test for the transitional government, which was formed through a painfully struck alliance between the army’s Transitional Military Council led by Lt.-Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the opposition coalition, Forces of Freedom and Change, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
A declaration between the two camps signed in 2019 called for national elections in early 2024. But the sheer number, power, and wealth of officials on the military side of the accord have left many Sudanese feeling skeptical.
Two senior Western diplomats and one from a major African state said most major powers — from Russia to China and the United States — had noted an increasingly strained relationship between General al-Burhan and his deputy, Lt.-Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, who is in charge of the Rapid Support Forces.
Earlier this month, General Hamdan, who is commonly known as Hemeti, reportedly refused to merge his troops with the Sudanese defense forces, which General al-Burhan leads, despite that being a stated aim of the transition.
“Talking about integrating the Rapid Support Forces into the army could break up the country,” he said at a memorial service for a soldier in Khartoum.
Nasr Eldin, a member of a government-appointed investigative committee, said his team had found two victims of the June 3 massacre roughly 150 kilometers north of Khartoum after speaking to villagers who reported seeing bodies floating in the Nile. He said investigators had taken DNA samples from the two bodies and matched them with the victims’ families.
“This is very solid evidence,” Mr. Eldin said.
Despite some progress, forensic experts involved in the investigation said their work had been hindered by the very committee charged with investigating the shooting. Two state forensic experts working inside the Ministry of Health showed The New York Times a letter from the committee ordering them not to speak to the media. They said the committee had also ordered them not to conduct autopsies on the bodies in the morgue.
Mr. Eldin said the committee had ordered a halt to the autopsies because forensic experts were compromised and had buried some of the bodies “without using correct procedures.”
KHARTOUM, June 22 (Reuters) – Sudan asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to meet and discuss a dispute over a giant dam being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, a government statement said.
Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development and power generation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), while the two downstream countries – Egypt and Sudan – are concerned about it and seeking a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
Egypt relies on the Nile River for as much as 90% of its fresh water and sees the dam as an existential threat. Sudan is concerned about the operation of its own Nile dams and water stations.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi called on the Security Council to hold a session as soon as possible to discuss GERD and “its impact on the safety and security of millions of people”, the government statement said.
In a letter to the council head, she called on him to urge Ethiopia to stop the “unilateral” filling of the dam “which exacerbates the dispute and poses a threat to regional and international peace and security”, the statement added.
Ethiopian officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Sudan and Egypt had already agreed this month to work together on all levels to push Ethiopia to negotiate “seriously” on an agreement, after African Union-sponsored talks remained deadlocked. The two countries called on the international community to intervene.
Earlier this month, Arab states called on the Security Council to discuss the dispute and Ethiopia’s plans to go ahead with the second filling of the dam this summer even without an agreement with Sudan and Egypt.
Ethiopia rejected the Arab League resolution in its entirety, its Foreign Ministry said.
The country previously rejected calls from Egypt and Sudan to involve mediators outside the African Union.
Sudan said earlier in June that it was open to a partial interim agreement on the multibillion-dollar dam, with specific conditions. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
A senior official at the General Administration of National Control at the Electricity Transmission Company in Sudan revealed on Saturday the separation of the northern state from the national electricity grid, and the transfer of its subordination to the electrical interconnection project with Egypt.
The Sudanese and Egyptian sides are working on establishing an electrical interconnection project, which would provide the national grid with 300 megawatts of electricity.
The Director of the National Control’s software department at the Sudanese Electricity Transmission Company, Eng. Mohamed Mukhtar Al-Tayeb, issued an apology to the Sudanese people for the scheduled cuts.
Al-Tayeb assured that the state is taking measures to ensure the stability of the electrical supply as soon as possible.
The Sudanese public has suffered daily power cuts that last for hours— for many months— with the exception of short periods such as during Ramadan and the Sudanese certificate exams.
“We are not able to play this role and bear the failure,” he declared in a statement made to Hala Radio’s Ifada wa Taw’qee program, Saturday.
“The root of the problem is related to resources, and the state does not provide capabilities,” he added.
He called on the government to develop a specific plan to end the interruptions, and attributed the morning and evening power cuts to increased loads.
Currency and Cooperation The director explained that the problem lies in the state’s capabilities in terms of operation, spare parts and training.
He pointed out that the state did not fulfill the dues of internal and external suppliers, while noting that the absence of foreign exchange resulted in electric power shortages.
Al-Tayeb announced that the national grid will benefit from the electrical interconnection projects with Egypt and Ethiopia.
He said that Sudan will benefit from the Ethiopian connection with 800 megawatts if the containers are available to withdraw the current.
“It is expected that the Egyptian connection will provide 240 megawatts if the problems with the withdrawal (of electricity) are also addressed.
Stability Secret Regarding the stability of the electrical current during the Sudanese certificate exams period, Al-Tayeb said that the stability will be at the expense of the machines.
“This will cost the state more money in the coming period, and will lead to a number of machines going out of service.”
Eng. Mohammed also denied what the former director of the Sudanese Electricity Company, M. Salim Mahjoub, said regarding the government’s request to transfer electricity financing funds for other projects.
Projects and Concerns The transitional government recently signed contracts to establish new stations, the last of which are the solar-powered stations in Dongola.
It is expected that the national grid will generate about 1,000 megawatts by the beginning of next year, which will contribute significantly to the stability of electrical supply.
However, there are growing attitudes regarding the potential effects of the Renaissance Dam on hydro-power generation.
Specialists call for the need to push the people into rationalization policies and the use of alternative energy, following the increase in annual consumption rates.’
South Sudan has been rebuilding its oil sector since a 2018 peace deal formally ended years of civil war in the country.
A South Sudan oil block resumed production on Monday after a seven-year hiatus over a dispute with neighbouring Sudan.
Production at Block 5A in Unity State, bordering Sudan, has been capped at 8,000 barrels a day by Sudan. Oil Minister Puot Kang Chol told reporters at a ceremony on Monday that Juba would ensure a lift to the cap in order to double production, Anadolu Agency reported.
It follows an agreement reached with Khartoum earlier this year to develop oil cooperation, including the resumption of operations at joint oil fields. Resumed production at the block has been years in the making, with agreements made with Khartoum in 2018.
The Sudd Petroleum Operating Company (SPOC) operates the block.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It began shutting off oil production in 2012 due to disputes with Khartoum over allegations that it was aiding rebels in Sudan.
Although South Sudan is an oil-rich country it is also landlocked and so needs to send its oil via Sudan to the Red Sea.
Civil war ravaged the country until a peace deal was reached in 2018. A unity government was formed last year and the country’s leaders are now drafting its constitution.
Efforts to rebuild South Sudan’s oil sector were knocked back last year by the Covid-19 pandemic and the global oil price crash.
South Sudan is part of OPEC+ and subject to the current cap in production but the cartel has since relaxed the cap on states as oil demand increases.
The odds were against Adieu Achul. Her family members were killed in present day South Sudan when she was just a child, and she grew up in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. Achul worked hard to become an entrepreneur and activist, and now collects donations for residents of the camp. Juma Majanga has her story from Nairobi.