The International Donors and Investors Conference for East Sudan
www.kuwait-fund.org/eastsudanconference/



Background

Eastern Sudan is a region of historical, political and economic importance for Sudan Comprised of the states of Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea, the region covers an area of 336,489 km2 and has a total population of 4.5 million, representing almost 12% of Sudan’s total population.

Economically, the region has significant natural wealth and potential, ranging from gold and iron ore deposits, to agriculture, fisheries, oil and gas, and tourism. These have contributed in varying degrees to its development. However, this has been counter balanced by the pressures that the region has faced.

In October 2006, the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front concluded the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA), ending eleven years of low-level conflict in the region. Recognizing that Eastern Sudan had suffered from economic and political marginalization, the peace agreement provided for a new distribution of political power and the establishment of an Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund, funded by the government, to serve the interests of Eastern Sudan.

Today the region still faces the same pressures that it faced before 2006 and socio-economic indicators are amongst the worst in the country.

- MDG Profile of Eastern Sudan 2010 (pdf)

The conference
Recognizing that Eastern Sudan has significant natural wealth and potential for growth, the Government of Sudan has embraced an innovative recovery and development approach for Eastern Sudan by linking aid with the promotion of business and investment opportunities in the region.

This December an international donor and investor conference, hosted by the Kuwaiti Government will take place in Kuwait City. The conference will aim to mobilize funds and investments that will contribute towards the common interest of all parties in the recovery, reconstruction and development needs, ranging from poverty reduction and basic services to education, infrastructure and investment in Eastern Sudan.

Organization
In April 2010 a five-member Steering Committee for the conference was formed, comprising the Government of Sudan, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Islamic Development Bank, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Areas of Focus
Poverty Reduction and Basic Service Delivery. Poverty remains a severe problem in the region, especially for people living in rural and urban shanty areas and those parts of the east that have been most affected by conflict in the past. In such areas, basic public services are inadequate or minimal and the possibility of increasing incomes and living standards is constrained by a lack of economic growth and integration with more developed areas in the east. A sustained and comprehensive reduction in poverty in Eastern Sudan can only happen when there is development across a range of economic sectors, improvement in basic infrastructure, and improvement in governance, education and health. Some of these can come as a result of private sector activity and investment; but others will depend on a combination of well-targeted aid and concerted efforts by Sudanese stakeholders in government and civil society.

Infrastructure
. Infrastructure encompasses everything from transport infrastructure (such as airports, ports, roads and railways) to basic urban and rural infrastructure such as water and sanitation systems. Some improvements in infrastructure in Eastern Sudan such as the construction of rural access roads are needed to improve the economic integration and prospects of marginalized populations, especially in the conflict-affected eastern border areas. Improvements in water and sanitation infrastructure are needed to improve health standards for the poor in rural and urban areas. Other infrastructure improvements such as upgrading of larger roads and airports are supporting factors for general economic growth.

Investment. Eastern Sudan offers good opportunities for Sudanese and foreign investors in sectors ranging from agriculture, fisheries, and livestock to mining, ports, real estate and tourism. The national authorities and the Governments of Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea states are ready to facilitate new investments, as are relevant business institutions such as the Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation and the Sudanese Chambers of Commerce. The state authorities and the Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation are also able to facilitate visits to Eastern Sudan by companies wishing to explore opportunities first hand. Meanwhile, a range of new measures are currently being introduced in order to make investment in the region easier.

Human Resource Development. Although many new primary schools have been built in Eastern Sudan, more school construction is needed and resources need to be put into teacher training to ease the shortage of qualified teachers. There is also a need for more investment in and development of vocational training institutions in Eastern Sudan, and for supporting their connection to private sector employment. Improving vocational training and increasing access to it are basic ways to help young people improve their work prospects, to increase productivity and to reduce poverty.

UNDP's Role
To support the preparation of the conference, the Government of Sudan has asked UNDP to provide technical assistance.
UNDP is supporting the conference initiative by:
• Carrying out consultations with a wide range of concerned and interested parties. These include representatives from the national government; the governments of Gedaref State, Kassala State and Red Sea State; committees overseeing the implementation of the ESPA; Sudan Chamber of Commerce; Sudanese Businessmen’s Association; donor countries and organisations; and regional and international funds.
• UNDP and the Eastern Sudan Rehabilitation and Development Fund (ESRDF) have gathered more than 100 aid and investment project proposals from the State Governments of Eastern Sudan and international organizations addressing the agreed areas of focus.
• UNDP will facilitate a comprehensive feasibility study with the objective to develop a detailed plan and budget for setting up a regional Polytechnic /Institute of Applied Sciences, Technology and Vocational Training in Eastern Sudan; and for establishing a system in which existing smaller vocational training centres in the region can be strengthened.
• UNDP in collaboration with the UN Commission for Africa (UNECA) will facilitate a study to analyze the main barriers to private sector investment and growth in Sudan, with a specific focus on the situation in Eastern Sudan. Based on the findings, a prioritized set of policy recommendations and actions will be proposed for improving the enabling business environment in Sudan.
 
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