COUNTRYAAH, Sudan is rich in natural resources such as oil and
natural gas, but the country's business is poorly developed.
About 80 percent of the country's labor force is employed in
agriculture, of which the majority are in self-sustaining
cultivation, while the industry is undeveloped. The main
causes of the country's development problems have been the
struggles in the southern parts (now South Sudan), the
vulnerability to price fluctuations in the world market and
an undeveloped infrastructure as well as drought, floods and
insect infestations. Furthermore, several major development
projects have been suspended as a result of civil war,
corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency.
In 1999, oil started to be extracted in Sudan. The oil
has attracted foreign investors to the country and also
contributed to large export revenues. However, a large part
of this revenue has been spent on military costs. When South
Sudan became independent, Sudan got rid of 3/4 of its known
Agriculture is the country's most important industry and
accounts for 40 percent of GDP and 80 percent of employment.
About 1/3 of the country's total area is considered suitable
for agriculture, but the area cultivated varies depending on
fluctuating rainfall. Only the Nile's beaches are cultivable
in northern Sudan's desert areas. The majority of the
agricultural industry is engaged in self-sustaining
Durra, which is grown mainly in the south, is the most
important staple food and cotton, together with sesame
seeds, is the most important export crop. Other important
crops are millet, sugar cane, legumes and peanuts. The
Gezira project, located between the White Nile and the Blue
Nile south of Khartoum, is one of the world's largest
irrigation projects. It covers the country's commercially
most important agricultural area, of which a large
proportion is leased out to foreign companies.
Livestock breeding (camels, sheep, cattle and goats) is a
significant food and live animal and meat exported to the
The mining industry is poorly developed, but deposits
have been made from oil in southwestern and central Sudan
and from natural gas by the Red Sea. Gold is mined in the
northeast by the Red Sea and chrome in the Ingessana
Mountains at the border with Ethiopia. Furthermore, uranium
deposits have been made in the west at the border with Chad
and the Central African Republic. The country also has
assets of plaster, iron, mica, marble and salt. Sudan began
extracting oil in 1999, but it was only after the civil war
in southern Sudan ended in 2005 that oil production
seriously expanded. The years before the country was
divided, Sudan was Africa's sixth largest oil producer.
Several foreign companies are involved in the mapping and
exploitation of Sudanese oil, including China's major
interests in the oil industry. Port Sudan has been developed
into the country's oil refining center and the city is
connected to the oil fields via a pipeline. How the revenue
from oil extracted in South Sudan, but exported through
Sudan, should be distributed is still a matter of dispute
between the countries.
The commercial utilization of the existing forest is
limited. Primarily, the forest is used as fuel and for the
collection of rubber arabic, an important export commodity.
A large part of the electricity generation comes from
hydropower, the rest from thermal power plants.
The industry, which was nationalized in 1971, has
suffered from inefficiencies and low capacity utilization.
The manufacturing industry is concentrated in the Khartoum
area, while the oil industry is mainly located in Port
Sudan. The most important industries are oil-related
industries and food and textile production. Private
investment has been encouraged partly through the sale of
state-owned enterprises and partly through the establishment
of free-trade zones.
Sudan has for a long time had a negative trade balance.
During the 1980s, the export value was just under half the
import value. But thanks to oil exports, the country had
surpluses in the trade balance during the 1990s. After the
division in South Sudan and Sudan, the country has lost
large parts of its oil exports and now gold is the most
important export commodity. Similarly, the trade surplus has
turned into a deficit. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt
are the most important export markets. Imports mainly
comprise food, industrial goods and machinery. The most
important trading partners are the United Arab Emirates,
Egypt and India.