Sudan: How PM Hamdok is securing state-owned enterprises

By Nicholas Norbrook

Posted on Wednesday, 30 June 2021 18:17
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks during a session of the summit to support Soudan, Monday 17 May 2021 at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir put vast chunks of the economy under the control of his regime's security services: police, army and intelligence.

The army controls irrigation projects, meat-processing plants, import-export activities, retail operations and manufacturing units. The police turned every service they deliver – from passports to identity cards to number plates – into a company.

When Bashir was ousted in April 2019, the army moved to consolidate power in various lucrative sectors previously run by the intelligence services.

Sabika, a gold bullion company that supplies the central bank, comes under the control of the National Intelligence Services, says Suliman Baldo of the US-based The Sentry think tank.

So far the transitional government under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has scored two small but vital victories: first, publishing a partial list of state-owned enterprises.

Second, it got control of the state-owned media, news agencies and printing houses, used for “propaganda, for controlling the thinking of the Sudanese and shaping their reading of events,” says Baldo.

To get around US sanctions, the Bashir regime registered companies in the names of binational Sudanese. Going after them will require rigorous inventory and mapping work.

“Start with civilian national funds and ministries, and all off-the-books accounts. If they just do that, it would be huge,” recommends Baldo, who is impatient for reform.

This article was first published in The Africa Report print magazine. 

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