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Dropping Sudanese Pound: Banks run dry, gas price soars

August 26 - 2016 KHARTOUM
(file photo)
(file photo)

A number of commercial bank customers in Sudan have been unable to withdraw foreign currency from their accounts. The recent sharp drop in the value of the Sudanese Pound has aggravated the foreign currency crisis, while Khartoum has again increased the prices for gas.

Sudan's Central Bank has reduced the commercial banks' shares of foreign currency into less than a quarter. According to the newspapers, bank customers now complain that they cannot withdraw US Dollars or Euros from their accounts. Several banks advertised that they have taken measures regarding the foreign currency exchange.

Meanwhile, the Nile Petroleum Company Limited announced a new increase in the prices of cooking gas in Sudan. It is an attempt to get out of the ecnomic crises by throwing the burden on citizens, according to an economic expert.

The standard price of a 12.5 kilo gas cylinder now amounts to SDG80 ($13.04) for the consumer, instead of SDG75 ($12.23). In January, the government announced a standard price rise for cylinders from SDG25 to SDG75 ($12.25). The actual price ranges per area: people in Central Darfur paid SDG85 ($14) and people in North Kordofan paid up to SDG200 ($32.40) for a gas cylinder in March.

Economic expert Dr. Sidgi Kabello told Radio Dabanga that he was surprised by the increase in Sudan, as there is a global decrease in these prices. “The government attempts to cover the costs of the waged war by increasing taxes.”

Speaking to this station, a housewife in Khartoum expressed her anger at the increase, saying it is unjustified. “A gas cylinder price in the city districts’ shops has risen to SDG100 ($16.30) since the last Ramadan. This can have a major impact on low-income people.”

Similarly, housewives in El Gedaref state denounced the current increase. “These new increases in gas prices are coupled with increases in sugar and meat prices... It will exacerbate the suffering of people,” a listener said. The price of a gas cylinder exceeds SDG120 ($19.58), she claimed.

Black markets raided

A significant drop in the value of the Sudanese pound against foreign currencies in the black market has resulted in a huge rise in the prices of essential goods and services throughout Sudan. Meat, vegetable and dairy prices sharply increased.

Currency trading in Sudan's black markets occurs more after the US Dollar price exceeded SDG16. On Thursday, Sudan's economic security and detectives forces launched an investigation and raided places believed to be gatherings for hard currency traders and clients in the markets of Khartoum.

Bread quality

The quality of bread products suffers under the economic hardship in Sudan's capital. A housewife in the city explained that usually, bread has a light weight, but now a bad type of bread has appeared in the bakeries.

Living conditions seem to have deteriorated in general in Sudan. President Omar Al Bashir announced earlier that this year's budget is aimed at improving the living conditions of people.

The hard currency rate on the black market in Sudan began to grow in 2010. In September that year, the Central Bank of Sudan announced that the lack of hard currency was becoming acute. The secession of South Sudan in July 2011, with which Sudan lost two-thirds of its oil revenues, an important source of hard currency, exacerbated the crisis.

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