Sudan’s economy is collapsing as post-coup leaders seek support.

The coup led to the deterioration of living conditions after the suspension of billions of dollars in international funds, and a time when the war in Ukraine increased the cost of large imports.

It has provoked anti-military protests that have taken place at least once a week for the past eight months, while adding pressure on military and civilian groups to reach a political agreement.

No prime minister has been appointed since the coup, ministers have served in interim powers, and efforts by the United Nations and the African Union to mediate have not yet paid off.

Authorities say they are seeking economic reforms that a civilian-led government launched in 2020 under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which aims to reduce subsidies seen as inflation, but public spending has skyrocketed.

In an interview with Reuters, Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim said, “We are pursuing economic reforms and gradually reducing subsidies so that citizens can manage them.”

The government has refrained from printing money to fund the deficit, and monthly state revenues have risen two-thirds in the last six months to 150 billion Sudanese pounds ($ 264 million), he added.

Sudan recently signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for a port and agricultural project, which could increase revenue, he said.

But inflation means spending has risen faster. On top of rising costs for fuel, wheat and other imports, the monthly bill for public sector wages alone is £ 180bn, up from £ 54bn since the beginning of the year.

Cut off the water

In Al-Shigala, across the White Nile from the capital Khartoum, residents crowded around private tankers selling water, saying their local water supply had dried up for weeks.

“I haven’t had water in my kitchen pipe since April, and the Nile is just a kilometer away,” said housewife Zahra Sharif.

Surrounding roads are littered with stagnant, green water and untreated garbage ponds. Several residents described their lives as hellish.

“We can’t buy water because it’s too expensive,” said Ayub Siddig, a 36-year-old bakery worker.

According to official figures, inflation eased slightly but remained at 192%. Last week, the World Food Program warned that 15 million people, or about a third of the population, were experiencing severe food insecurity.

In Khartoum, major intersections are often jammed because traffic lights lose power.

Khartoum water authority officials blame a lack of government funding for maintaining water stations or pipes for a growing population. Frequent power outages shut off the water pump.

Ibrahim said the government subsidizes electricity, but there are supply gaps that authorities expect to fill with foreign investment and renewable energy.

“What happened in October had a big impact on the economy,” he said, referring to the suspension of nearly $ 4 billion in Western aid planned for 2022-23.

“We had big plans for electricity, irrigation and rural development and it all stopped.”

Meetings with generals

Ibrahim, a former rebel leader, backed the seizure of power, which military leaders said was necessary because of political paralysis following the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Western donors say suspended economic aid will not return until a credible civilian government is appointed. Analysts say that even if these conditions are met, it will be more difficult for Sudan to garner support after the coup because of its involvement with international lenders.

This month, the civilian coalition, which had shared power with the military before the military coup, began meeting with generals to break the political stalemate in support of the United States and Saudi Arabia.

But protest leaders still refuse to negotiate with the military, and many protesters blame the armed forces for their economic woes.

“In Sudan, we have always been ruled by the military. What do they know about the economy?” The 20-year-old student protesting in Khartoum said.

($ 1 = 568.0002 Sudanese pounds)

Leave a Comment