Searching for funds

24 February 2006

A delegation of Sudanese government and state ministers arrived in Dubai on 13 February on the first stop of an international tour to encourage private investment in the country. 'We're conducting a series of investment promotion activities, in particular with countries which already have good relations with Sudan,' State Minister of Investment Elsimaih Elsideeq Alnur told the Sudan Development Programme Summit. Alnur proposed Sudanese and Saudi Arabian investors form a $10 million investment company and GCC investors and Sudanese businesses establish a holding company to invest in different sectors. 'We're endeavouring to attract big and small investors,' Alnur said. 'We have a one-stop-shop policy to encourage investment in an unprecedented manner.' The policy aims to reduce the level of bureaucracy experienced by foreign investors. 'The longer the procedure, the worse the corruption,' Alnur told MEED.

The minister said that foreign investment in Sudan stands at more than $5,000 million, representing one-third of total investments. The government hopes to attract private funds into agriculture, tourism and infrastructure development, including road and bridge construction, as well as the energy sector. The Investment Ministry estimates there are more than 330 ongoing investment projects. Sudan has 563 million barrels of proven oil reserves, according to the US' Energy Information Administration, and produces about 500,000 barrels a day (see Oil & Gas).

Khartoum has instituted a number of reforms to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI), such as 100 per cent capital and land ownership, tax and customs relief, full repatriation of funds and ensuring the non-confiscation of assets, as well as pursuing an ongoing privatisation programme. 'The government will withdraw from any commercial enterprise to encourage the private sector to take up opportunities,' Alnur said.

Nominal gross domestic product (GDP) was $28,050 million in 2005, according to the IMF, and is forecast to increase to $37,261 million in 2006. Agriculture accounts for almost half GDP - more than half of the labour force works in the sector - but increasing oil production is driving much of the growth. 'Our competitive advantage is in agriculture,' Alnur said. 'But that sector is lagging behind.'

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