Sudan – Time, Hope and Patience

Sudan is a country in North-Eastern Africa which gained independence from Egypt and the UK in 1956. Previously called Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, the country has a rich history and before the split with South Sudan on 9 July 2011, united Sudan was the largest country in Africa and the Arab world by area. It is considered a treasure trove for archaeologists, due to a large number of prehistoric artefacts. Sudan’s post-independence history has been tumultuous, characterised by multiple coups and economic woes. These were exacerbated by international tensions – and later sanctions – following the government’s decision to allow terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to reside in Khartoum in the 1990s.

The country with a population of close to 42 Million (World Bank 2018) is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan despite the most populous city being Omdurman. Islam is an integral part of Sudan’s social fabric and media landscape as well as a politically mobilizing and polarizing force. The Arab presence is estimated at 70% of the Sudanese population. By far the most popular tourist attraction in the country, the Pyramids of Meroe are one of the last remaining symbols from an ancient civilization. The best time to visit is just before sunset when the sun illuminates the structures with a golden hue. The Pyramids of Meroe were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Sudan’s economy is basically agricultural, with inadequate infrastructure and ridden by the civil wars and social and ethnic conflict. Sudan lost most of its oil reserves (over 80 percent), after the secession of South Sudan. Unlike the rest of the Arab world that is mostly barren desert, Sudan has a significant size of arable land. The country has the potential to produce most of its food needs and export some to the Arab world. Despite Sudan accounting for less than 10% of Arab land, it counts for almost half of its arable land. GDP growth was an estimated 4.1% in 2018, up slightly from 3.3% in 2017. On the supply side, mining (growth of 6.3%), agriculture (3.7%), and manufacturing (1.5%) were the main contributors to growth. GDP growth is projected to be 3.6% in 2019 and 3.8% in 2020, benefiting from a strong commitment to ongoing macroeconomic policy and structural reforms, including removing tax exemptions and the like.

On the “Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 18,58 SDG (R 6,00) and the price of litre petrol is 7,70 SDG (R 2,44). Sudan inflation rate though fluctuated substantially in recent years from 16.91% in 2016 to 63. 29% in 2019 with a projected rate of 50.43% in 2020.

Sudan faces key challenges include institutional and human capacity weaknesses, high youth unemployment, a high external debt burden, and climate change. However, there is hope with time and determination in Sudan as there are key opportunities include huge unexploited agricultural potential, an improved national policy environment, and private sector potential. Sudan also holds huge private investment opportunities in large-scale irrigated agriculture, dairy farming and animal husbandry, forest enterprises involving gum Arabic, and the leather supply chain for regional and global export, with the potential to increase national income and foreign exchange earnings by promoting exports of manufactured and semi-manufactured goods.

Senegal – Gateway to Africa

In the 16th century when the Portuguese visited the country’s coast, the fishermen said “sunu gaal”, which translates into “these are our boats”. The Portuguese, who understood nothing, simply named their land “Senegal”. Fast forward a few centuries, Nelson Mandela in his book “Long Walk to Freedom” stated that the Senegalese are handsome people and that the society showed how disparate elements– French, Islamic, and African– can mingle to create a unique and distinctive culture.” Provided this information we can see this in Senegal’s national flag which bears three colours: red, yellow and green. They are the official Pan-African colours and a star in the middle that represents universal unity.

Senegal has two prominent nicknames: the land of Teranga and the gateway to West Africa. The “Gateway to Africa” tag was earned through the presence of the Senegal River, by which the Portuguese and the French were able to make inroads to Sudan and Central Africa. The government is a multiparty democratic republic and became independent in 1960 after three centuries of French colonial rule. Dakar, the capital lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the most westerly point in Africa. In 1840, the French government declared Senegal a permanent French possession, abolished all forms of slavery, and granted full citizenship to those born in Senegal. More ironically Senegal’s traditional and national sport is wrestling, likely as a coincidence of wrestling France for three centuries.

Senegal has been among Africa’s most stable countries, with three major peaceful political transitions since independence. In a presidential election held on February 24, 2019, the Senegalese people voted in President Macky Sall for a second term. Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the Economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services. Growth has been high, over 6% since 2014, and the forecast remains optimistic, particularly with oil and gas production expected in 2022. Growth accelerated to over 7% in 2017 and is expected to remain over 6% in 2018 and the following years. All sectors supported growth in 2018, but agriculture – due to support programs, robust external demand, and large infrastructure investments in the context of Emerging Senegal Plan implementation remain key drivers. Although the country is 93% Muslim, Senegal’s first president was Catholic (Renowned poet Léopold Sédar Senghor).

On the Neil Economic scale, a can of coke cost 431.11 CFA (R 10,59) and the price of a litre petrol is 593.50 CFA (R 18,74). The inflation rate for consumer prices in Senegal moved over the past 39 years between -4.1% and 32.3%. During the observation period from 1979 to 2018, the average inflation rate was 3.9% per year. For 2018, an inflation rate of 0.5% was calculated. Overall, the price increase was 317.72 %. An item that cost 100 Franc in 1979 was so charged 417.72 Franc at the beginning of 2019.

Despite Senegal having over 20 ethnic groups speaking more than one language, the different groups have coexisted in harmony. Senegal is the only country in West Africa that wasn’t overrun by a military coup and its democratic stability has earned it many allies in Europe and the Americas. The country truly fits the Senegalese proverb “The chameleon changes colour to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon”. Senegal has a reputation for transparency in government operations. The level of economic corruption that has damaged the development of the economies in other African states is very low. Today Senegal has a democratic political culture, being part of one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa.

Nigeria – The Giant of Africa

“There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence, talent and black pride like Nigeria” stated by Kenyan author, Binyavanga Wainana for Nigeria for being a stalwart of black pride and identity. The country regarded as the “Giant of Africa” has 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory known as Abuja, features over 250 different ethnic groups with many different languages. The former British colony is Africa’s most populous country with an estimated population of 202 Million (World Bank 2019) and will double in size to 400 million people by 2050. Nigeria has a diverse geography, with climates ranging from arid to humid equatorial. More spectacular, the Niger Delta (the second-largest delta on the planet), has the highest concentration of monotypic fish families in the world and is also home to sixty percent of Nigeria’s mangrove forests. The country with a name derived from Niger river which is the largest and longest river in West Africa is home to one of the Oldest Locations of Human Existence, The Nok Civilisation (dating back to 1500BC).

It is interesting to know that Nigeria has more Muslims than Saudi Arabia and has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa with a religion composition of 52% Islam and 47% Christianity. The country is dominated by Sunni Muslims concentrated in the North whilst the South is dominated by Christians. Religion in Nigeria has also influenced some of the customs and the way of living in most of the Muslim Families as they consider the left hand to be unclean and using it to be a sign of disrespect. Those that believe this do not eat, shake hands or receive items with their left hand. Nigeria’s economy has been driven over the years by Crude oil exports as the nation is the largest producer and exporter of Crude Oil in Africa. The country is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is a major source of U.S. imports. The region’s biggest economy (an estimated GDP of $397 Billion in 2018) and largest consumer base is reliant on oil and gas for its revenue, the economy itself is more diversified, with manufacturing, banking and insurance, retail and agriculture all major contributors. However, each of these sectors could grow faster and create more opportunities if structural problems are overcome, among them, the country’s electricity shortage, corruption and bureaucratic bottlenecks.

On the Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 150 Naira (R 5,96) and the price of a litre petrol is 138.62 Naira (R 6,30). Though Nigeria inflation rate fluctuated substantially in recent years it tended to increase through 1999 – 2018 period ending at 12.1 % in 2018 with a 4.43% decline from 2017.

Nigeria has managed to turn the entertainment industry into a major GDP contributor by transforming showbiz from an African perspective. In 2009, UNESCO reported the Nigerian film industry – also known as “Nollywood” – had overtaken Hollywood to become the world’s second-largest film industry, behind India’s Bollywood. In the following decade, output more than doubled to 2,500 films a year – and the industry is continuing to grow, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is estimated to employ more than 1 million people and to generate more than $7 billion for the national economy, accounting for around 1.4% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product. New cinemas are opening, and box office revenue is predicted to reach $22 million by 2021.