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Donors pledge $1.8 billion for Sudan amid internal wrangling and COVID-19 crisis

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Over $1.8 billion dollars in pledges for Sudan poured in during a high-level Sudan Partnership Conference held on Thursday, 25 June 2020, marking an important step in the African nation’s re-engagement with the international community.

African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund chiefs attended the Conference, which was co-hosted by the Republic of the Sudan, the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Union and the United Nations, and held virtually in Berlin. Other participants included delegations from 50 countries and international organisations.

“This Conference signals the strong and full return of Sudan to the international community, “ said Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Sudan, as he outlined the progress of the nation from war, conflicts, economic collapse and isolation, to relinking with the rest of the world. Hamdok said the meeting was convened for an open exchange of views to support “a comprehensive home-grown policy reform agenda.”

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In turn, governments and delegations expressed their support for the Transitional Government headed by Prime Minister Hamdok, pledging unprecedented support to help Sudan achieve its goals for a free, peaceful, just, inclusive and prosperous nation, and to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Conference acknowledged the urgent need to support Sudan in addressing its acute economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by the additional challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many participants also called for debt relief for the country.

 “The level of participation is unprecedented. This is a tide of support and solidarity we are hoping for,” Hamdok said. “Thank you so much, thank you friends.”

H.E. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said the world needed to “mobilise massive financial support for Sudan. The world needs a stable Sudan, a democratic Sudan…I’d like to see all nations united in support for Sudan,” Gutteres said.

The Transitional Government of Sudan has prioritized economic reforms and the recovery of assets stolen by its previous leaders, both domestically and internationally. It has made reviving productive sectors of the economy, job creation and inclusive and sustainable peace, the cornerstones of its reform process.

Opening the conference, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany said it was “a responsibility to stand by the people of Sudan and their revolution. “You have done a remarkable job of leading the country through the transition so far. I offer you Germany’s full support.”

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, spoke with similar sentiment, describing Sudan as a light of hope in Africa.

“The EU stands ready to assist Sudan. It is an investment worth making in the region…in order to set a reference for the world.”

The programme also featured a panel session comprising Sudanese Finance Minister, Ibrahim el-Badawi; Lena el-Sheikh Mahjoub, Minister of Labour and Social Development; African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina; President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass; and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, on the theme of supporting Sudan’s economic reform agenda.

The pledged funding contributions will support Sudan’s Transitional Government in meeting its priorities and launching of a formal process of political support for democratic reforms, peace, and the economic reform agenda. Much of the support will be earmarked for the Family Support Programme, which will provide humanitarian and social support and relief for close to 80% of the country’s population, 40 % of whom are unemployed.

“The African Development Bank has always been with Sudan from the very beginning. We never left Sudan for one day, even all the while that it was under economic sanctions. That is because we believe in Sudan,” Adesina said in remarks at the panel discussion. ““We provided, from our African Development Fund, $445 million dollars that we have for arrears clearance, which includes Sudan and Zimbabwe, and we are working very closely on that with many of you, including the World Bank and IMF.”

Minister Borrel said participants agreed on the need to hold a follow-up Partnership Conference in early 2021, in close cooperation with the Government of Sudan and the group of the “Friends of Sudan.” These include France, which has offered to host a high-level conference to launch the debt relief process for Sudan, allowing the full reintegration of Sudan into the international economic community.

Adesina said the African Development Bank has earmarked about $115 million in grants for the next three years to finance public sector projects and programs in Sudan, in addition to about $215 million grants provided in the last three years. Specifically, the Bank will support Sudan to strengthen its health care systems with a grant of about $30 million to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

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