LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund announced that Sudan has met the initial criteria for over $50 billion in foreign debt relief, another step for the East African nation to rejoin the international community after nearly three decades of isolation.
The two international financial institutions said in a joint statement Tuesday that Sudan “has taken the necessary steps to begin receiving debt relief,” which amounts to over 90 percent of the nation’s total external debt. They said Sudan will benefit from the relief if it continues on its current path of reform for another three years.
“Debt relief will support Sudan in implementing essential reforms to improve the lives of its people by allowing the freeing up of resources to tackle poverty and improve social conditions,” the IMF said.
Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, hailed measures taken by Sudan’s transitional authorities in recent months that led to “this historic milestone under challenging conditions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sudan’s joint military-civilian government that has ruled the African country since a 2019 popular uprising has taken a series of bold steps to try to revive a battered and distorted economy, in which smuggling is rife. They include floating its currency, starting to address heavy government subsidies, particularly on fuel, and seeking investment from international donors.
Georgieva of the IMF urged authorities to “sustain and expand” the implementation of reforms, adding that the IMF would continue to support the government to “secure a more prosperous future” for the country.
The announcement by the World Bank and the IMF also included $2 billion in grants dedicated to combat poverty and support a sustainable economic recovery over three years.
“Today marks an important milestone that will enable Sudan to significantly reduce its debt burden. This is a potentially transformative outcome for a nation of 44 million people that has suffered conflict, instability, and economic isolation for decades,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also hailed the decision as an “important milestone,” that came after “hard work, dedication and strong partnership with the international community.”
“This is a big day for Sudan and reaffirms that all the efforts and sacrifices of Sudanese people are recognized and rewarded,” he said.