Sudan’s debt arrears to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (ADB) have been cleared, further paving the way for Sudan’s re-entry into the international financial community, and for Sudan’s economic recovery. The Sudanese Pound has strengthened against international currencies following the announcement.
In a statement yesterday following the session of the Paris Conference dealing with Sudan’s international debt (currently estimated at around $80 billion), Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok said that this step opens the door wide for the deserved return of Sudan to the international community.
The Paris Conference, which was attended by a large number of representatives of countries, international institutions, and businesses, was organised to support the democratic transition in Sudan and encourage international investments and partnerships.
“Today we saw the world welcoming us to its fold like none before. We will push on with this new momentum to make the Sudanese dream a reality” – PM Abdallah Hamdok
Hamdok added that the world listened to Sudan well, and that “the Paris conference allowed Sudan to present to the world the change that took place, its challenges and priorities”.
Via social media, Hamdok said: “I came to Paris bearing the hopes and dreams of my people, and generations that didn’t live to see a free Sudan… today we saw the world welcoming us to its fold like none before. We will push on with this new momentum to make the Sudanese dream a reality.”
On Tuesday, Hamdok attended the African-French Economic Summit meeting, at the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss ways of recovering the continent’s economies, with the participation of 28 countries.
Hamdok also participated in a meeting that included more than 15 French and international companies and institutions at the headquarters of the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (Movement of the Enterprises of France – MEDEF) morning, in presence of the French ambassador to Sudan, assuring that Sudan offers investment opportunities in various fields.
On Monday, at the opening of the Paris Conference, France pledged to provide a bridging loan of $1.5 billion to assist Sudan to clear its arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). President Macron announced yesterday that Sudan’s existing debt of $5 billion to France will be cancelled, and that the IMF will begin the process next month. The UK, US, Norway and Saudi Arabia have also agreed to help clear the rest of the arrears, said the French president.
In May, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the United Kingdom will provide a £148m ($2 billion) bridging loan to help Sudan clear its arrears with the African Development Bank.
The USA has affirmed that it will do all it can to support Sudan as it pursues its democratic transition.
in her address to the Paris conference, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power commended Sudan and the civilian-led transitional government for its political and economic reforms—especially Prime Minister Hamdok’s public support of women’s rights. The US official said it was these efforts, together with steps the Transitional Government took to redress the surviving families of terrorist victims that led the USA to remove Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Power added that that decision reflected US desire to partner with Sudan through this new phase and to reintegrate the country into the global community.
The US official indicated that after decades of violence, and repression, it is time for Sudan to reclaim its voice in the concert of nations and to ensure the country is able to turn the page from its dark past.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policies, Joseph Borrell, affirmed that the EU will continue to support and stand by Sudan for the sake of political and financial democratic transformation.
In a statement following the Paris Conference, Borrell said that “Sudan’s historical transition remains important source of inspiration for the future of the region.
“The EU will continue supporting the democratic transition in Sudan politically and financially” Borrel said.
China has also affirmed its support for the transitional government of Sudan, in a message from the Chinese ambassador to France, delivered to PM Hamdok in Paris. Hamdouk appreciated the continued Chinese support for Sudan, asking the Chinese diplomat to convey the desire of the transitional government to review Sudan’s debts to China.
Sudan’s foreign debt
The Al Bashir regime (1989-2019) has left the country with a collapsing economy and a shocking lack of hard currency needed for the import of basic consumer goods. Inflation is soaring and the Sudanese Pound continues to fall, despite the levelling of the official forex rates with those at the parallel market in February.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported in February that most areas of Sudan will face acute food insecurity this year. A study of Sudan’s National Council for Child Welfare last year revealed that one in three Sudanese children is stunted because of malnutrition.
The government of Hamdok has taken tough measures such as subsidy cuts and introduced a managed currency float to qualify for an IMF debt relief programme. These unpopular measures were necessary to move towards debt relief by the end of the year, the PM said.