Sudan is the third largest country in Africa with a total area of 1,882,000km2 and 43.85 million inhabitants. The country is sparsely populated. Sudan is geographically located at the crossroads of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and stretches across the Red Sea. Sudan shares borders with seven countries including Libya and Egypt to the North, Chad to the West, the Central African Republic to the South-West, South Sudan to the South, Ethiopia to the South-East and Eritrea to the East.
The River Nile traverses the country from south to north providing a crucial water source, while the Red Sea washes close to 900km of the eastern coast, making Sudan a sea bridge between Africa and the Middle East.
Sudan’s economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for about 30% of the GDP and employs 65% of the labour force. The main products are cotton, groundnuts, sorghum, wheat, gum Arabic, sugar cane, cassava, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, animal feed, sheep and other livestock. The services sector comprises a big share of GDP, at about 48%, but contributes little to employment. The industry sector share in GDP has risen, but remains low at 22%, offering a negligible number of jobs.
Poverty rose from 36.5% in 2015 to 55.4% in 2020 and 55.9% in 2021, aggravated by political instability, hyper-inflation, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Human Development Report rated Sudan low in the human development category at position 167 out of 189 countries, with a score of 0.502. Sudan’s Gini Coefficient income inequality indicator fell from 35.4% in 2009 to 34.2% in 2014, driven by falling inequality in rural areas.
It was expected that inflation would come down gradually as a result of economic reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank. Most of the reforms stalled with the coup in October 2021. It increased substantially in July 2021 owing to a package of reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies and exchange rate unification. It is expected that inflation will come down gradually as a result of economic reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank. The projection for 2022 is inflation of 162.9%.
The Bank will be supporting the Government of Sudan to prepare an industrialisation and trade strategy in 2022, to unlock the country’s potential. The Bank has suspended all interventions in Sudan.
The provision of financial services in Sudan is dominated by the banking sector which is regulated by the Central Bank of Sudan. There are currently 37 banks in Sudan; however, financial inclusion remains low at 15%. These are divided into three groups (1) specialised banks which are all Government owned and include the Savings and Social Development Bank, (2) Investment Banks and (3) Commercial Banks. Commercial Banks are divided into three sub groups (a) Foreign Banks (b) Joint Ownership Banks such as Faisal Islamic Bank and (c) Government-Owned Banks including the Bank of Khartoum which has some of the best branch coverage and Omdurman National Bank. Despite a large number of banks service delivery is concentrated in Khartoum and state capitals.