The Rising Importance of Sudan’s Ports
——Interview with H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in China
Pei Andi, China Investment；Photo by Zhang Mei
Investment: The port of Port Sudan, which was originally built in 1906,
is one of the most important shipping hubs in northeastern Africa.
Could you please explain it pivotal role? What role does it play in
terms of the connection between the Africa continent and the world?
Omar Issa Ahmed:
The Republic of the Sudan lying northeastern of Africa , borders the
Central African republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan
and Chad by land and Saudi Arabia by sea. Sudan has a strategic location
that made it as a link between North Africa and South Sahara, therefore
plays a key role in transporting trade (exports and imports) of many
Sudan’s neighboring countries, particularly, landlock countries such as
Ethiopia and Chad, through Sudanese ports.
three operational deep-water ports, Port Sudan, Sawakin, and the Marsa
Bashayer oil export terminal. In 1906, the colonial administration of
Sudan built Port Sudan harbour, because Sawakin – located only 45 km
away – proved inefficient and too small for the new large ships of the
20th Century. Port Sudan – lying on the spectacular Red Sea coast, it is
a logistics hub that holds a visionary investment park, as well as
acting as a strategic maritime gateway and potential. The Sea Ports
Coorporation (SPC) is the port authority for Sudan’s Ports owns a number
of specialized operational ports. Other specialized port is Oseif,
about 60 miles north of Port Sudan, which handles the iron ore. In
addition to that (Sawakin) is the oldest operating port at least since
the 11th century and played overwater link to the Middle East, as well
Suakin is the oldest Sea ports for commercial exchange between china and
east Africa as a part of the oldest Sea Silk Road, moreover a major
crossing point for African Muslims travelling on their yearly pilgrimage
H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in China
Investment: Currently, what are the major domestic cargos in the port
of Port Sudan? What is the impact of this port on Sudan’s economy?
Omar Issa Ahmed: Every
year from Port Sudan – home to Sudan’s main seaport, helping the
country earn billions worth in transit fees and exports-around $4
billion worth of goods are exported, while annual imports to the tune of
$7.5 billion are offloaded, making the harbor an integral part of the
country’s economy. Sudan’s most important export is gold followed by
livestock. Others include: oil, Arabic gum, cotton and sesame. Main
import partner is China followed by UAE, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Italy.
The sea Ports Corporation, a pillar of the national economy which
facilitate the trade movement of Sudan and some neighboring countries,
was created in 1974 as an independent Sudanese maritime body responsible
for building, developing, and maintaining the country’s ports, harbors,
and lighthouses. Therefore, Sudan ports are playing an important role
in achieving sustainable, developed economy in Sudan, beyond generating
economic benefits and boosting productive capacities.
Investment: Chinese companies participated in the port constructions.
What are opportunities for Chinese companies to continue participating
in the future? Especially in terms of inland transportation
infrastructure connecting the port and the construction of Port Park?
Omar Issa Ahmed: Sudan-
china relations date to 1959, when Sudan became the first country in
sub-Saharan Africa to recognize China. Since the 1970s, Chinese
companies were contracted to construct Sudan’s ports, water conservancy,
electricity, bridges, roads, resulting in these projects to be the
pillars of the cooperation relations between the two parties. There has
been cooperation in sea ports development aspect between Sudan and China
throughout the last quarter of the century. Today, China is the largest
investor in Sudan; since 1985 contractual by CHEC. Sudan red sea coast
is a vital area and it will further boost the potential of
intra-regional countries, so based on strategic partnership China helped
Sudan to develop it’s sea ports, and has been installed modern rubber
cranes by Chinese companies, which is led to developed port operations
significantly in recent years to meet the needs and requirements of
shipping as a result of the large increase in the volume of goods traded
(imports and exports). Sudan Authorities is also adopting advanced
systems to improve performance, simplify and facilitate procedures to
achieve the requirements of regional and international competition.
aims to attract investments in (sea ports and river ports) to expand
its market and enables to strengthen linkages and reduce out of the
economy, in addition to develop the existing ports and investment to
further expand infrastructures in cooperation.
Sudan has important and strategic partnerships with China which have
greatly helped modernize Port Sudan and increase its efficiency, such as
deepening the lanes, increasing berths, modernizing handling equipment
and computerization the process of clearance. Though Port Sudan not
typically seen as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Sudan sees
itself as playing a critical role in the development of China’s plan to
link East Asia with Western Europe, east Africa and western Asia.
Interview with H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in China
China Investment: In which aspects can we strengthen the trade cooperation between china and Sudan?
Omar Issa Ahmed: China’s
cooperation with Sudan is a good example of the cooperation among
developing countries. As mentioned before, China – Sudan friendship has
spanned more than half a century. Both developing countries’ economies
have their own advantages, and their economical complementarities are
very strong. The economic and trade exchanges are frequent. China has
been helping Sudan to develop its economy, as a key partner in
establishment of a number of important development projects, and still
two countries have chances to strengthen the trade cooperation between
them in many aspects. For example, infrastructure development projects,
petroleum sector, electricity, minerals, roads and bridges, agricultural
Free economic zones, special industrial zones and food processing
industries. When it comes to Chinese import and export trade China is
Sudan’s top trading partner, in equal, mutually interests. The current
investments from Chinese companies are large and growing in sea ports
projects, so due to Sudan attractive and comparative coast now there are
great opportunities for related investments.
Interview with H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in China
China Investment: What impact does the African free trade zone have on the trade cooperation between china and Sudan?
Omar Issa Ahmed: The
African Free Trade Area Agreement will create opportunities for all
Africa countries to develop and exchange investment and trade; it will
also enable the African Free Trade Area to advance development and
employment opportunities for people within the continent, in pursuit of
sustainable development objectives and the 2063 agenda of the African
Union. The agreement on the establishment of a free trade area among
African countries will help in the expansion of trade routes through
(one-belt, one-road) initiative, so Chinese companies will certainly
contribute to the construction of free trade areas in many African
countries. In this regard Port Sudan is beginning to fulfill its role
once again as the main port not only for Sudan, but also for the wider
African hinterland as we know Ports of Sudan are top of Africa’s ports.
Moreover, major development for the area will be the Dakar-Port Sudan
railway. While proposals are still ongoing, it will be one of the
biggest projects ever undertaken in Africa when it is finally
implemented, and a quantum leap in the area of land transportation and
trade exchange on the continent, giving four landlocked countries access
to the sea and providing them with a 10,100km long rail artery.
the seaport is the Red Sea Free Trade Zone which began operations in
1999 to coincide with Sudan’s oil production boom. It is not only serves
just Sudan, but also many African countries. Having the free-trade zone
area means that imports and exports can move easily through this area.
expanded over the last 15 years, the zone now plays host to a wide
range of multi-economic activities, offering investment guarantees and
tax incentives to its many tenants. In 2013 the government announced
that it aims to attract 500 new investors to RSFZ in the coming years,
upon its completion the free zones will attract many industries
investments internally and externally due to strategic location.
Meanwhile, the port as a whole is today undergoing major modernization
and upgrading overseen by Sea Ports Corporation (SPC).
believes Sudan’s Ports will be an important loop on that belt and road
initiative particularly after signing (MOU) last September 2017 between
Sudan and china as a partner in belt and road initiative.
文|本刊记者 裴安迪 翻译|邓哲远 摄影|张梅
——专访苏丹共和国驻华大使欧玛尔·伊萨·艾哈迈德(H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed)
苏丹共和国驻华大使欧玛尔·伊萨·艾哈迈德(H. E. Mr. Omar Issa Ahmed)