A Sudanese farmer harvesting millet.

Economic situation A country in deep crisis

The Bashir Regime pursued an economic policy characterised by government intervention, corruption and cronyism. Furthermore, it focused primarily on the extraction of oil and gold, with the top echelons of government, public administration and the security forces creaming off a large proportion of the profits. The country's agricultural potential was never developed; large parts of the manufacturing sector lie idle.

The secession of South Sudan in 2011 left a huge gap in the country's income: Sudan lost 75 per cent of its oil revenues. The country was ill-prepared for this loss and has since been suffering a severe economic crisis. In the last five years, gross domestic product (GDP) has declined by 80 per cent. The downturn in the global economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has also been felt in the Sudan, and has worsened the economic situation there even further. In early 2021, the rate of inflation climbed to more than 300 per cent.

Subsidies for petrol are being gradually phased out, as part of a reform programme imposed by the IMF. As a result of the economic crisis, many goods are no longer available. And although staple foods are being subsidised to keep prices down, often they are already out of reach for large parts of the population. 

Consequently, the new government is under enormous pressure to bring about tangible improvements and reform the economic system completely; to ensure greater transparency; to drive down public debt; and to reduce subsidies further while, at the same time, lessening the social impact of these measures.

Public debt

Sudan's level of public debt is extremely high. According to information from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country's public debt in 2020 amounted to over 260 per cent of its gross domestic product and was thus no longer sustainable.

The Sudan is the only other highly indebted country besides Eritrea that is not yet part of the HIPC Initiative. A plan is currently being worked out with the help of the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank which will help the Sudan chart a course towards debt relief.