The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank officially declared Sudan eligible for over fifty billion dollars in debt relief, following policy implementations and other actions from the Sudanese transitional government. The two institutions announced that Sudan “has taken the necessary steps to begin receiving debt relief,” which equates to over ninety percent of the nation’s external debt. They also said the country will continue to benefit if they continue implementing reforms over the next three years. This relief will help Sudan’s government invest more money into improving citizens’ lives, and make more resources available to address poverty and other social conditions.
Sudan is currently ruled by a joint military-civilian government. It was established after the 2019 uprising that ousted Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for nearly thirty years prior. The uprising against his Islamist-backed rule resulted in nearly three years of economic, social, and political challenges within the country. Sudan has also faced many problems, since the United States placed them on its list of state sponsors of terror during the 1990s. They were removed from the list by former President Donald Trump, after the government agreed to pay 335 million dollars for victims of terror attacks committed while Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s former leader, was living in Sudan. However, the biggest challenge to the country’s improvement is the economy and its debt to other countries and organizations.
In an attempt to decrease the economic strain on Sudan, the IMF and World bank also gave them two billion dollars in grants, specifically for combating poverty and supporting sustainable economic recovery. However, some measures taken by the transitional government threatened to further impoverish the country’s poorest citizens. Additionally, many policies have been met with opposition from pro-democracy advocates. Sudanese protestors have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand justice for protestors killed in the uprising against al-Bashir and those killed, jailed, or injured during the government crackdown following the initial uprising. These protests were met with government security forces blocking major roadways and using tear gas against protestors. So far, there are no reported casualties.
The debt relief from the IMF and World Bank will be key for Sudan reintegrating into the international community and for continued improvement of poverty and social conditions. However, there are concerns about how the debt relief provided by the IMF and World Bank will affect Sudan’s poorer citizens. Historically, the World Bank has backed many projects in various countries, with the aim to end poverty and grow income for the poorest people. However, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, many poor people end up displaced with no livelihood, and very little government support after the projects are established.
With the IMF and World Bank’s debt relief and the two billion dollar grants for projects targeting poverty, there is concern that displacement of people will continue. There is also concern about foreign investment and how influential foreign investors could be in the country. Some critics point to the possibility of neo-colonial policies being implemented. Such concerns reflect the history of Western involvement in Africa and Sudan, as well as test the transitional and eventually permanent government of Sudan. But as of now, the debt relief should help ease economic tensions and allow for further progress towards ending poverty, improving people’s social conditions, and reintegrating Sudan into the international community.