Corporate Council on Africa hosts U.S.-Sudan Business and Investment Forum
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted the U.S.-Sudan Business and Investment Forum, the first Forum in a webinar series on business and investment opportunities across key sectors in Sudan such as banking, agribusiness, energy, ICT, infrastructure, and healthcare. The series strives to facilitate commercial partnership growth between the two nations and their private sectors as Sudan enters a new era of increased trade, stability, and democracy. The U.S.-Sudan Business and Investment Forum was generously sponsored by Visa Inc., The Boeing Company; Lindsay Corporation; and Trade and Development Bank.
The Forum included a moderated conversation between H.E. Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister, followed by a series of panels on Doing Business in Sudan and Opportunities in Sudan’s Agribusiness Sector respectively featuring H.E. Dr. Gibril Ibrahim, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, and H.E. Dr. Altahir Ismaeil Harbi, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, and a select group of senior executives from U.S. and African companies.
The event kicked off with opening remarks by CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser who expressed her excitement about partnering with the U.S.-Sudan Business Council to co-host the high-level Forum after years of engagement with the Republic of Sudan. Optimistic about the future of U.S.-Sudan relations, Ms. Liser noted that Sudan’s removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List (SSTL) has “eliminated one of the major hurdles to doing business in the country.”
Ihab Osman, Chairman and founding member of the U.S. Sudan Business Council (USSBC), expressed that Forum illustrates the great progress that has been made between the U.S. and Sudan.
Bernard Dunn, President at Boeing Middle East, Turkey, and Africa introduced H.E. Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan. A fireside chat with H.E. Prime Minister Hamdok was moderated by Ambassador Demetrios Marantis. The fireside chat was followed by Senior Vice President & Head, Global Government Engagement, VISA. During the fireside chat, Prime Minister Hamdok acknowledged the multiple transitions Sudan is undergoing and the challenges the country faces in moving forward as it inherited a collapsed economy.
Prime Minister Hamdok highlighted reform programs that have been introduced to move Sudan in the right direction with support from the people. H.E. Dr. Abdalla Hamdok encouraged the U.S. private sector to “look at Sudan as a country of opportunities. "Sudan is working hard to overcome the challenges it inherited” he stated. In closing, H.E. Dr. Abdalla Hamdok shared that he is hopeful of the success and opportunities that lie ahead for U.S.-Sudan relations.
The Honorable Ms. Dana Banks, Senior Advisor for Africa, National Security Council, White House, noted “the U.S. applauds economic reforms enacted by the Prime Minister” and encourages the Sudanese government to continue its peacekeeping efforts. She concluded by stating that the Biden-Harris administration will continue to foster business relations by facilitating Sudan’s constructive participation in the global economy.
Doing Business in Sudan - Opportunities & Challenges
Hassan Abdelhalim of USSBC kicked off the session on “Doing Business in Sudan - Opportunities & Challenges” with an overview presentation providing background on Sudan’s revolution and its economic impact, and on the overall business environment and finance sector. Mai Abdelhalim, President, North Africa, GEIM, GE moderated the high-level panel featuring H.E. Dr. Gibril Ibrahim, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, with co-panelists Ahmed Gaber, General Manager, North Africa, VISA, Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO, Trade and Development Bank and, Dr. Moustafa Abdalla El Hassan, CEO, Bank of Khartoum.
H.E. Dr. Gibril Ibrahim provided opening remarks on the reforms that Sudan has undertaken and assured that there are more reforms ahead that focus on transparency. He also noted that the country is becoming more peaceful and is in a better position to stabilize its economy and move towards economic growth.
The panelists also discussed the finance and banking environment in Sudan and the impact of COVID-19. Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO, Trade and Development Bank highlighted TDB's commitment to investing in Sudan."We rebuilt partnerships both in Sudan and with international partners who want to support Sudan at this early stage that should pave the way for us to take on projects in the infrastructure sector, agrobusiness, agroindustry, and some other areas as well in the infrastructure area."
H.E. Dr. Gibril Ibrahim concluded the Doing Business in Sudan session by stating that Sudan is looking for strategic partnerships and welcomes American investors and looks forward to seeing them in Sudan.
Agribusiness: Sudan – A New Source of Food Stability for Africa
The third session, titled “Agribusiness: Sudan – A New Source of Food Stability for Africa”, began with an overview of the agriculture sector by Ahmed Abdellatif of USSBC. Mr. Abdellatif touched on the key natural resources and the great opportunities that are present in Sudan’s agriculture sector. The Agribusiness session was moderated by Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, Chairman, AfricaGlobal Schaffer who emphasized the importance of agriculture in Sudan, stating “when someone mentions the agriculture industry being the backbone, I can certainly verify.”
H.E. Dr. Altahir Ismaeil Harbi, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Republic of Sudan, delivered his opening remarks on the success of Sudan’s agriculture industry. The high-level panel also featured Eng. Disougie Elwagie, General Manager, White Nile Sugar Company, Gustavo Oberto, President, Global Agriculture Irrigation, Lindsay, and Dr. Dominik Reus, Managing Director Africa, AGCO.
H.E. Dr. Harbi discussed the comparative advantage of Sudan’s agriculture industry and highlighted opportunities for U.S. investors. The panelists also highlighted opportunities for collaboration between Sudanese investors and U.S. investors, the impact of climate change, and perspectives from U.S. business leaders on how they view the future of agribusiness in Sudan.
H.E. Dr. Nureldin Satti, Ambassador of Sudan to the U.S. and Bryan David Hunt, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, East Africa and the Sudans, U.S. Department of State delivered closing remarks on U.S.-Sudan partnership. Ambassador Satti noted the importance of the Forum in facilitating information sharing. Mr. Hunt highlighted how the U.S. government is actively supporting Sudan as it continues to grow. He concluded by stating that, “it is time to move forward and encourage mutually beneficial trade with and investment in Sudan.”