The Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) responsible for Corporate Services and Human Resources, Alberic Kacou, concluded a three-day official visit to Sudan on Thursday.
He was accompanied by the Bank’s Resident Representative in Sudan, Abdul Kamara and technical staff. The mission, which was essentially a follow-up to the Bank Group President’s recent visit to the country, entailed detailed discussions with Sudanese authorities on practical steps towards enabling Sudan to take full advantage of opportunities emerging from the temporary removal of economic sanctions, and create avenues for the Bank to scale up development efforts in the country, in collaboration with other development partners.
During this visit, Kacou had high level consultations with senior Government officials, including the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badreldin Mahmoud Abass, the State Minister of Finance Magdi Yasin as well as with development partners, the private sector, African diplomatic missions in Sudan and coordinators of all AfDB-financed projects.
Among others, areas of deepening macroeconomic reforms were discussed, including the need for technical assistance and capacity building to prepare the country engage more effectively in debt relief discussions.
Technical assistance to facilitate Sudan’s rapid reintegration into the international community was also discussed, including possible areas for the African Development Bank’s assistance.
Measure to improve operational environment for the private sector were identified as critical, especially for operationalizing the country’s current focus on economic diversification and private sector-led growth. Even though the discussions revealed a unique opportunity in Sudan’s recent history, marked by the temporal lifting of sanctions which could lead to improvement in the country’s relation with the international community, progress in attracting investment remains tardy, reflecting the magnitude of the technical work required for the country to reintegrate fully into the international system.
The Vice President also took the opportunity to visit the Merowe Dam in the Northern State, Sudan’s largest hydroelectric power station which is also Africa’s second largest dam after the Aswan Dam.
The dam’s irrigated agricultural investments that are yet to be developed were illustrative of two of the Bank’s five priority areas or the High 5s, namely power Africa and feed Africa.
The Bank recently put emphasis on five key priority areas that are critical for operationalizing Africa’s transformation. These are:
i) light up and power Africa
ii) feed Africa
iii) integrate Africa
iv) industrialize Africa
v) improve the quality of life for Africans.
These sectors would be the principal focus of the Bank in the country when it resumes full operations in a post-sanctions era, especially when the external debt issue would have been resolved.
The Bank currently has an ongoing portfolio of projects in technical assistance, capacity building and targeted operations amounting to US$200 million in various states in Sudan.