Interview with H.E. Osama Faisal, State Minister of Investment, Sudan

Global Insight : Can you give us an overview of the investment climate in Sudan?

The investment climate in Sudan is improving rapidly, with high priority from the leaders of the country, from the government on the climate of investment. And this was reflected with the recent appointment of the First Vice President of the country heading its business committee. We tell the media that this is the first committee in the world that is headed by the First Vice President.

Doing Business indicators are indicators that the World Bank uses to measure business practices in Sudan. Sudan has fluctuated in its indicators for quite some time but recently we have agreed to improve the doing business procedures in the country, which is why a decree was introduced that the first Vice President lead this committee. There is also a second committee, a technical committee, that falls under my responsibility.

We are also consistently working at the Ministry to make the necessary changes in the investment climate and to encourage more investors to come into the country and to ease Doing Business in Sudan by trimming away unnecessary procedures within the Ministry and to modernise the technology used. We will be moving into a new building very soon and there will be a different environment for receiving investors in which they can easily follow up on their licences and concessions, even from abroad, through our website. The whole government is moving into a new era, an era of e-government.

There are different factors that form the investment climate, one of which is the legislations. We are currently modifying our investment act and putting more incentives into that act for attracting more investors. We are keen to keep ourselves at the forefront of investment in the region. Sudan remains one of the best countries in the world where return on investment is one of the highest. And this is because of a high internal and external demand for food. Agriculture is one of the main sectors we are concentrating on but in general I can say that the food industry and food security is one of the major sectors that we are focused on. Other sectors such as mining and services also present many opportunities for investment. Food security is a growing topic for the whole world and Sudan has vast lands and abundant water resources which makes it a great investment destination. We are also working with the Ministry of Agriculture to introduce new policies on land acquisition, and we offer land as concession to investors.

GI : You are in charge of Arabic investments in Sudan, what can be learned here, and how can this investment serve potential Japanese investors?

Japan is a very big industrial country and Japan can get a lot of raw materials from Sudan, whether in the mining sector or the agriculture sector. So there are a lot of opportunities for Japanese investors to come and benefit from these raw materials. Sudan is still a virgin land. Japanese technology is well known and they could come here and invest in renewable energy for example. As you can see, the whole country is using Japanese cars so the automotive industry is another area they can invest in. I believe Sudan has a lot of untapped resources that are ready to be explored and new ideas can be developed. A couple of years ago, one of the biggest Japanese tobacco companies acquired a company here.

Things are changing in Sudan; as is the political climate, and we have a new coalition government that took over at the beginning of January, which will make Sudan more stable. Sudan is very safe except for some small areas that are bordering the south but we expect to resolve this by the end of the year. We are also looking to cooperate with the south and this is an opportunity for regional projects that can be funded by Japanese investors.

GI : Sudan has the potential to be a hub in Africa. How do you welcome foreign investment into the country?

We are doing that through different conferences and different official missions where we visit countries to tell them about Sudan’s potential. Also by engaging with business communities and government officials and inviting them here to seek opportunities themselves.

GI : What would be your message to Japanese investors?

A. We would very much welcome Japanese investors here, as Japanese businessmen are very respected and Japanese technology is of high quality. They are well known all over the world. We look forward to seeing them. We are pledging to protect their investment here and support their businesses in order to increase the country’s strength.

There is a lot of effort being put in to change the image of Sudan, including joining the WTO agreement and promoting our commodities, industries and investment in Sudan. We are singing a lot of bilateral agreements and we will keep doing so in order to maintain the flow of investment into the country.