Sudan’s Investment Scene

Sudan has been covered by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which indicates that 53.6% of the population consider that it is easy to start a new business in Sudan, and 79.4% consider that starting a new business is a desirable career choice GEM Sudan (2018).

Brief History

Sudan before the uprising

In recent history, specifically in 2017 close to the end of Barak Obama’s period as the US president, he partially lifted the sanctions on Sudan which enabled over 150 companies to establish and/or resume international relations. In addition, Sudan was lifted from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism in December 2020, ending 30 years of isolation. This contributed greatly to Sudan’s awaited return to the international market and encouraged the entrance of private investors.

There has been a noticeable gap of information about entrepreneurial activities in Sudan and there is a literature gap in this field of study. Moreover, the World Bank’s Doing Business reports ranked Sudan at the bottom of the listed countries. Indeed, different studies undertaken by the World Bank reveal that entrepreneurial activities are low compared to other countries in the region (World Bank 2015). In recent years, however, and since 2018, Sudan has been covered by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which indicates that 53.6% of the population consider that it is easy to start a new business in Sudan, and 79.4% consider that starting a new business is a desirable career choice GEM Sudan (2018).

Sudan’s economic productivity has been under a centralized economic planning system, and hence most of the major economic activities have been driven by the public sector. Nevertheless, since the country embarked on liberation and privatization policies in the mid-1990s, the contribution of the private sector toward the national economy significantly increased. According to the African Economic Outlook (2014), the private sector is the main source of employment in Sudan, providing about 75 percent of jobs and about 70 percent of foreign currency proceedings. Furthermore, Enterprise activities exist in the modern agriculture (mechanized and irrigated); manufacturing (food processing, clothes, and furniture), and services (banking, insurance, export and import of goods, education, and health) sectors. These sectors consist largely of small firms employing a limited number of workers. Until the late 1980s, the majority of firms were publicly owned. However, after the liberalization and privatization policies of the 1990s, the situation has started to change. The United Nations Industrial Survey (UNIDO, 2013) has found that 96 percent of industrial firms are privately owned. Moreover, the enterprise sector as a whole consists largely of private limited liability companies and sole proprietorships.

Factors that have contributed to the non-existence of private sector-led contributions to Sudan’s economic prosperity:

South Sudan Secession:

A study by the African World Bank Group (AFWBG) in 2016 on (Private Sector-led Economic Diversification and Development in Sudan) stated that over the past decades, Sudan’s economy has been subject to several domestic and external shocks and thus volatility in economic growth. For instance, the secession of South Sudan alone unleashed major impacts, such as; reduction in population and size of the domestic market; downsizing of the country’s natural resources base mainly in oil; loss of economic growth momentum; substantial internal and external macroeconomic imbalances; and lastly; adverse social impacts on the lives and living conditions of the people. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan has had to confront a wide-ranging set of issues that have included a decline in the importance of oil as a key source of growth for the economy, a heavy external debt burden, international sanctions, and more recently, a highly volatile macroeconomic environment characterized by major economic imbalances and continued internal conflict.

Economic Sanctions:

After the US imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, the private sector continued toward establishing itself although the cost of doing businesses increased. However, a devastating factor came in with the 2001 September attack when the US implemented Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules. The implementation of these rules led major international banks to adopt additional governance and transparency rules, and in some cases go to the extreme of avoiding transactions not only with governments of sanctioned countries but also with private businesses or individual nationals residing in these countries. The AFWBG stated that the number of international and regional banks willing to do business transactions with Sudanese entities diminished considerably in 2014 as a direct consequence of the sanctions and the huge fines imposed. The total fines imposed on international banks for violating US sanctions was reported by The Economist in 2014 to be US$19.2 billion. Furthermore, the sanctions isolated Sudan and created a significant barrier to its businesses, as a result of which Sudan lost valuable investment opportunities. Starting a business took 11 procedures and 36.5 days in 2017, according to World Bank data, with costs amounting to 27.8% of per capita gross national income. This gave the country a ranking of 170th globally.

Environmental & Social Factors:

Environmental conditions such as soil erosion and unpredictable rainfall are causing extreme poverty in rural areas of Sudan due to challenges in agricultural productivity. Desertification and recurrent droughts have forced many to flee their areas and live in poverty as internally displaced persons at the margins of cities and towns. Sudan lacks an educated labor force because of limited resources and expenditure on education. Focusing on urban areas, Sudan’s education policies give little attention to commercial, agricultural, technical, and teacher-training schools. Severe infrastructural deficiencies, with a lack of basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., roads, railways, and power supplies), make Sudan an unfavorable environment for investment.

Political and Governance Factors:

The political environment in any country determines the set of rules and policies that govern entrepreneurial activities and the overall atmosphere in which firms can operate. This factor is generally comprised of many sub-factors, among which are: competition policy; taxation policy; employment law; patent law; and regulation of financial markets. In addition, it includes the political situation (e.g. government stability, corruption) and a country’s relations with other states (David 2013; FitzRoy et al. 2012). Hence, a good set of policies and a stable political situation can contribute to increasing the likelihood of formulating and starting up a new business, and thus fostering entrepreneurship development.

Sudan’s current troubling scene is a result of historical political instabilities from numerous military coups and interventions in which it led to the interruption of a civil-based systematic government, that faced the challenges of economic and political stagnation as well as ethnic fragmentation, all hindering development efforts internally and restricting external support.

The political factor in Sudan is not a stand-alone component but one of a complex nature where cultural, social, and environmental threads played and continue to play a big role in creating the reality of Sudan’s political and economic environment today. Since independence, the country went through heavy economic circumstances while withstanding a civil war that resulted in a political secession of its South.


Sudan after the uprising

The Political & Economic Landscape

In two (2)  years of the transitional government, Sudan’s poverty rates have doubled, inflation rates are on the rise and the country’s economic situation deteriorated. The current government is under pressure from the public due to the lack of basic commodities such as power, medicine, and water.

Furthermore, according to the IMF (2020) “Sudan: Selected Issues”, there is an inadequate of transparency and accountability. With regards to policies and regulations, the reports stresses that to avoid reform failure, the civil society and private sector should be actively engaged in designing the policy strategy and the implementation plan to adopt it. Therefore,  communication is essential to provide the government with the buy-in it needs and the necessary time and space to implement these reforms in a way that ensures economic growth for the long term. This is equally important that such policies to be shared with the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem and potential investors to ensure long-term investment planning is made in line with governmental reforms and regulations. In addition, recently, certain reforms have been introduced and implemented toward achieving economic stability such as the removal of fuel subsidies, unification, and liberalization of the exchange rate, and recently, an increase in electricity tariffs and the elimination of the previously adopted customs exchange rates. Furthermore, the country is working with the International Monetary Fund to lift its foreign debts and is expecting a debt relief of approximately 90% in the coming years under the Heavily Indebted Countries Initiative (HIPC), this makes Sudan the largest exempted country under this initiative. Such debt relief is seen critical for Sudan’s economic development and its overall investment environment, ultimately signaling grounds of opportunity for investors with appetite to invest in Sudan.

While this is quite the achievement for the transitional government, the country still needs to reach its developmental sustainable goals to be an effective member of the international community, this will be achieved through attracting and maintaining a flow of cross-sectoral private sector. The recent conference in Paris was a leap toward positioning Sudan in the international community as an attractive investment pool in the near future.   


The Paris Conference

While the overthrow of a 30 years dictator regime was the turning point for Sudan and its nation, an investment turning point for the country took place in Paris recently at the Sudan-France Business Forum held in Paris on May 17th. the Khartoum delegation – which was made up of both officials, private sector, and entrepreneurs – who carried dialogues with several representatives of Western multinationals including Ericsson, Siemens, and Bolloré and others. Participants discussed several sectors, those of that the government considers offer the best investment opportunity: infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture, and telecoms. Below are some of the data demonstrating the promising investment-related sectors.

The conference may have achieved a milestone in regard to Sudan’s hefty debts, as France declared exempting its debt estimated at 5 billion dollars, which is the largest debt owed by Sudan for a single country. This decision has paved the way to attract attention to the country’s desperate need for foreign investment and has also encouraged other countries to follow Paris's footsteps in exempting Sudan, like Saudi Arabia with debts estimated at 4.6 billion dollars.


Sectors Priority

Infrastructure: the sector showcases great potential of private-public partnerships, with a multi-stakeholder facet considering that the banking sector also has a role to play in designing suitable financing tools to develop and implement infrastructure projects. This supports the current government’s steps towards boosting domestic market competitiveness and facilitating national integration of isolated areas, hence market access and facilitation is essential.

The investment opportunities according to government officials; are focused on developing infrastructure, communications networks, water supply, water management, and roads network nationally and regionally for enhancing social inclusion and livelihoods improvements.

Energy & Mining: as stated by the Sudanese Prime Minister during the Paris conference for Sudan; "When we talk about the potential of the energy and renewable energy sector, Sudan is a country of solar energy” Abdullah Hamdok. In addition, the Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning affirmed that the government will work to create the enabling environment and the appropriate policies and legal reforms to attract investments and strategic partnerships in the energy and mining sectors. What’s worth mentioning, is that the electricity sector planning includes a country-wide shift towards renewable energy as the main energy source and hence developing renewable energy projects to stabilize and further increase agricultural production and others.

With the country’s noticeable and well-known rich natural resources, especially gold, oil, gas, chrome, manganese, zinc, aluminum, cobalt, and nickel. With gold specifically, Sudan is known to be the third-largest gold producer in Africa and the 9th worldwide. However, the country’s mining sector is driven by unregulated, and informal mining practices, usually risking people’s lives and bringing low benefits at a national level. If proper regulatory reforms and legal frameworks are put in place, it is expected that it will minimize the high investment and reputational risk perceived in the sector.

Agriculture: The agricultural sector accounts for one-third of GDP (33%) and 50% of employment. However, only 30% of the land is cultivated. According to figures from the CTC Group, which has been operating in this market since 1956, Sudan has 10% of the world’s unused arable land (46,025 hectares), while Brazil, Russia, and Australia together have 31%. With a potential for agricultural growth of more than five times its current capacity, the country has a lot to offer investors, the CTC Group states. There are opportunities all along the value chain (Arabic gum, sesame, cotton, and horticulture), but nevertheless, investments in Agriculture go hand in hand with investing in rural infrastructure, such as irrigation systems, and rehabilitation of rangelands and others.

This is the main sectors in the country and one that crosses all vital sectors, the investment opportunity is not only significant but essential to be leveraged. Should the right agricultural incentives and support systems be put in place, the country will not only meet its demand for food security but will also be able to supply the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Telecom: Sudanese representatives refer to the sector as a cross-cutting essential developmental goal, to support the country's needs in reaching its full potential and develop all its digital sectors, including fintech, cloud, e-commerce, e-learning, agri-tech, logistics,  and innovation centers. The sector represents a market of $1.5 billion of investment, according to GO digital services.

According to an article from The Africa Report in 2021, it referred to the country’s maritime coastline that enables Sudan to access submarine cables, via the EASSy cable, 13% of which is owned by the national telecommunications and internet service provider; Sudatel. This consequently enables the country to act as gateway access to landlocked countries like South Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia.


Looking Forward

Observations of the current political and economic atmosphere, all indicate that there is hope on the near horizon for the Sudanese economy, with a shift toward a more attractive investment ecosystem. Two years into a democratic transition, Sudan is looking to attract foreign investors in five key sectors: infrastructure, agriculture, energy, mining, and telecoms, but furthermore, the country’s unique geopolitical position, places it as an attractive investment hub through various untapped channels of opportunity.

Realities On the Ground

Start-up Support Programmes

With an aspiring young generation that led the 2018 Sudan uprising; seeking freedom and change, the response to the deep economic reforms needed post the revolution sits at the heart of the pressing issues challenging the Sudan Transitional Government. Accompanied with the growing economic need of a young population that represents 60% of the total Sudan population, job creation, economic stability, education, and capacity development are of great significance to the overall economic health of the country. As a result, various small private enterprises led by young talents have been on the rise.

As such a segment continues to grow, an incentivizing ecosystem to meet the need for capacity enhancement and support is critical. That said, various support programs are available in Sudan by various specialized agencies across the country. Table 1 provides a broad categorization of the different support mechanisms that are currently active across Sudan states:


Name of Institution


Training & Capacity Development

Work Space & Appliances


Innovation Hubs

249 Startups


Impact Hub



Infotech Inc.

Khartoum University



IEC – Innovation &





Comboni Innovation & Entrepreneurship Centre (CIEC)



Enable Youth Program




Various States



Various States



Practical Action

Various States



Various States




Various States



While there are plenty of established support mechanisms in Sudan, the vast majority are focused on pre-seed and seed stages in the corporate lifecycle of enterprises. However, further enterprise growth stages such as early and growth-stages are in lack of tailored support that meets their growing need of both capacity and capital.


Start-ups Investment Climate and Experience

The Case for Financial Institutions.

Fragmentation is seen in the type of capital provided, the available regulatory environment, and incentive mechanisms available across the country. When approaching the financial system, for example, available financial products can be summarized mainly according to the following characteristics in table 2:


Microfinance Institutions



Debt (Islamic Finance)

Debt (Islamic Finance)

Size Range

Up to 400,000 SDG

Unlimited, depending on the financials and collateral


Short – up to 1 year

Short – up to 2 year

Interest Rate




SDG (Local Currency)

SDG (Local Currency)


Varies depending on the profile of the institution


Most suitable

Low-income communities, Micro and Small enterprises.

Established businesses, secured trade opportunities.

Table 2: MFI and Bank Financing Characteristic in Sudan.


Microfinance institutions provide support to low-income communities and micro and small enterprises, however, the size of funding provided by those institutions may mismatch the required funding needs of enterprises in different sectors as well as later corporate stages. On the other hand, and over the years, there have been a growing number of banks operating under Islamic modes of finance, the type of funding provided require collateral to mitigate risk exposer, however, significant compared to the size of asset and financials of enterprises at early and growth stages. In addition, high interest rates are far greater than what can be absorbed by enterprises that are in principle below investment grade.

While there are several Islamic finance-focused financial products, the vast majority as concentrated on retail, commodities, and secured trade opportunities. The most common are: 

  • Mudaraba: Profit and Loss Sharing focused Contracts;
  • Murabaha: Sale via Installments, or cost-plus sale;
  • Salam: Islamic forwards, or in other words purchases with differed delivery;
  • Ijara: leasing;
  • Musharaka: Partnership, or profit and loss sharing;
  • Mugawala: A contract to undertake or perform work in return for compensation;
  • Qard Hasan: grant.

While Mudaraba, Murabaha, and Musharaka are the most commonly used by Islamic financial institutions, Mudaraba may be more suited to the financial needs of startups and SMEs. However, in Sudan, the requirements by financial institutions may hinder startups and SMEs from accessing adequate sizes of capital, hence representing barrier for market access.

While Microfinance Institutions have great reach in terms of geography and the type of support they provide, the sector is yet expected to grow further in order to cover the growing demand for financial services across various segments of the Sudanese community. According to the Central Bank of Sudan, approximate 42-45 Microfinance Institutions are currently active across various states in Sudan. Examples of these Microfinance Institutions is shown in table 2 below*:




  • Al Ebdaa Microfinance Bank.


Various States

  • The Family Bank


Various States

  • Savings and Social Development Bank


Various States

  • North Kurdofan Microfinance Institution (Mishkhah)


North Kordufan

  • White Nile Microfinance Insitution


White Nile State

  • Blue Nile Microfinance Institution


Blue Nile State

  • Kassala Microfinance Institution



  • Red Sea Microfinance Institution



  • Sawa’id Microfinance


South Kurdofan

  • Sinnar Microfinance



The vast majority of Microfinance services have minimum level of requirements such as:

  1. National ID Number.
  2. National ID Card.
  3. Personal Guarantee Cheque (Commonly requested by Commercial Banks).

In addition, and in some cases in lieu of the personal guarantee cheque, an insurance note could be sufficient.

Recently, the size of financing provided by Microfinance institutions have increased. Financing of up to 400,000 SDG (˜900 USD) on individual basis can be provided for agriculture and manufacturing activities, and up to 200,000 SDG (˜450 USD) can be provided for other economic generating activities. It is important to stress; however, these amounts are provided on individual basis, on the other hand, financing can also be provided for a group, in which each member could be eligible for the maximum amount of financing.

It is also important to note that support is usually provided on the basis of asset purchase and not in cash.

In terms of repayment, it is usually carried in installments according to the value of the asset purchased, and depending on the sector of economic activity, the repayment of the installments may vary. For example, livestock related activities may repay in installments every three (3) months, while manufacturing and general commercial activities may have a six (6) month installments option. On the other hand, agriculture activities may repay once at the end of the tenor.

In terms of tenor, the total repayment schedule vary between Microfinance institutions and Banks. While in general, tenors by Financial Institutions in Sudan are considered short in comparison to Financial Institutions in other countries. However, in Sudan, Microfinance institutions tend to provide shorter tenors compared to commercial banks, With up to one-year tenors by Microfinance Institutions, and up to three (3) years by commercial banks.

Furthermore, Startups can benefit from microfinance by applying as a group of individuals, however, such support may be in convenient for tech-based startups and can be perceived incompatible with corporate structures that rely on a minimum number of founders.

Corporates and Non-Financial Institutions.

As for Corporates and non-Financial Institutions, two (2) main approaches are foreseen when it comes to their investing practices:

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility; and
  2. Direct Investing i.e. taking equity positions in ventures.

As for Corporate Social Responsibility, the general mainstream is centered around the type of in-kind support that could be provided to communities, aligned with the overall company objectives and branding purposes.

Direct investing, on the other hand, is approached much more effectively on the basis of the risk/return profile of the underlying investment opportunity. Overall Non-FIs and Corporates approach Direct Investing with consistency to their overall corporate strategy.

When it comes to investing in small and medium-sized enterprises, disparities and misalignment of interest are common issues that suffice. Small and medium-sized enterprises are usually treated as mature companies in terms of capital allocation and the size of equity holdings by Non-FIs and Corporates. Such an approach rather burdens small and medium enterprises who in essence require a high-risk tolerance accompanied with proper capital allocation and the much-needed support to strengthen their capabilities.

In order to bridge the capital mismatch, clear alignment of interest should be established early in the investment process. In addition, it is highly advised that local investors should be mindful if of the adverse effects of providing capital that does not match the needs of entrepreneurs at a given growth stage as it may result in a total capital loss.

Angel Fund Support, Venture Capital, and Private Equity Funds.

It is important to note that beyond the formal channels of the financial system, support from family, friends, and relatives is common, specifically in sectors such as agriculture and livestock. It is also important to note that such channels of support may be considered primary in rural areas beyond the capital, Khartoum. Young members of the family are usually supported to establish sustainable economic activities. While such support varies between regions depending on the demographic and socio-economic factors of the region, sectors such as agriculture and livestock are dominant compared to other industrial and service sectors.

Recently, led by 249 Startups, an innovation hub based in Khartoum, established the Sudan Angel Investors Network. The Initiative is considered to be the first Angel Investor network dedicated to connecting local entrepreneurs and ventures to Angel investors. As a not-for-profit initiative, such a network plays a critical role in bringing the much-needed funding and support for ventures that are at seed and early stages who were able to develop a proof of concept. Ultimately, bridging the funding gap for start-ups and enterprises and the appetite of local and regional investors for investing in start-ups.

As for Venture Capital and Private Equity Equity Funds, due to the overall risk profile of Sudan, and the risk intolerance of institutional investors who invest in VC and Equity Funds, having start-up-focused VC and PE Funds are limited in the country. As for regional and global VC and PE Funds, due to various risks surrounding start-ups and ventures in Sudan, there may be limited opportunity for funding available for local solutions. Some of the major risks hindering start-ups from accessing regional and global VC and PE Funds are currency risk, liquidity risk, frail valuations, and others.

Further, Crowdfunding represents an attractive avenue for startup support, and while there are a number of attempts to establish crowdfunding networks, a solid approach to crowd funding is yet to be established. However, it has been noticeable that there has been a number of impactful crowdfunding activities supporting particular community related causes. For example, during the Sudan uprising, the Sudanese diaspora collectively provided support via organized groups to help communities through various challenges at the time.

Non-Governmental Organizations, Development Finance Institutions, and foreign missions.

In 2016, the African Development Bank approved the Enable Youth Initiative. In partnership with various government institutions, the program aims to create business opportunities and decent employment for young women and men along priority agricultural value chains in Sudan. In addition, the program targets youth, under 35 years old, with a focus on youth who are graduates holding at least a postgraduate degree. The distribution of beneficiaries across urban and rural areas is based on the proportion of the total youth population in each area and graduate levels. In 2021 the Bank has disbursed approximately 8 Million USD through its Fragile States Facility.

Further, with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the initiative Orange Corners Sudan was established to create an enabling entrepreneurial climate. The program offers various types of support including seed funding, workspace, and capacity development. The program is running in partnership with 249 Startups and United Capital Bank Sudan.

Moreover, various programs are developed and established by Non-Profit Organizations in Sudan. For Example, several key initiatives are led by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), including private sector promotion for the private sector to grow their capacity by providing business development services and entrepreneurship promotion modules.


The case for foreign investments

In the case of foreign investments into start-ups and young ventures, the Sudanese market is seen as guarded by excessive market barriers and compounded risks that commercial foreign investors aren’t able to tolerate. A few examples of these risks and barriers are currency risk, political risk, policy risk, liquidity risk, security risk, extreme volatility, and market risk.

In addition, given the high mortality rates of small and medium-size ventures, accessing equity investments of size may be cumbersome unless these ventures are mature, with a track record and healthy financial positions. Furthermore, equity investments into small and medium-sized ventures, require years of holding of the investor’s equity position until ventures are competitive enough for exists.

Moreover, according to the African Development Bank “Inflation escalated to an estimated 124.9% in 2020, compared with 82.4% in 2019, mainly due to a 118% currency depreciation and monetization of the fiscal deficit”. Taking currency depreciation as an example for barriers of investments into small and medium enterprises, foreign investors typically invest in foreign currency, however, volatile markets require currency hedging mechanisms to transfer and mitigate the risk of currency fluctuations and volatility. On the other hand, local start-ups rely on local currency repayments, therefore, they are exposed to heavy currency risks in case capital is raised in foreign currency.

Another major obstacle for foreign investors is resolving insolvency issues, according to the World Bank report on Doing Business (Economy Profile of Sudan – 2020), Sudan ranks 152 of 190 economies, with a recovery rate of 30.2 cents on the dollar for creditors, and a lengthy recovery time of two years in average. Therefore, foreign investors may be exposed to high insolvency risk .

Overall, in Sudan, a set of appropriate mechanisms are needed to provide foreign investors with attractive investment opportunities accompanied by the type of risk mitigation they seek. Ultimately, reducing the risk profile of start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises and portray an attractive economic segment.


Establishing a business and Access to Funding for Non-Sudanese Nationals

Non-Sudanese nationals, who are the country, enjoy equal rights as Sudanese citizens to register a company or a business name and generate revenue from their registered businesses for activities that cover the below areas of work:

  • Service activities, including roads and bridges, mining and construction.
  • Industrial activities, including light and heavy industry.
  • Agricultural and livestock activities.

Nevertheless, below is a non-exhaustive list of the activities that are prohibited for non-Sudanese nationals to engage in, and others that are conditional based on attaining permissions and adhering to the legal terms and regulations of respective ministries of the targeted activities:

List of activities that are prohibited for non-Sudanese nationals.

  • It is prohibited for a non-Sudanese to work in the field of general trade, import, and export for commercial purposes, without the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Trade.
  • It is prohibited for a non-Sudanese to work in the press, media, and all publishing-related activities.
  • It is prohibited for a non-Sudanese to work in the field of shipping, unloading, and clearance.


List of activities that require special permissions for non-Sudanese nationals.

  • Work in the field of aviation activities (obtaining civil aviation approval).
  • Work in exploration and mining (obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Energy).
  • Work in expert houses, providing consultations, and preparing feasibility studies (the Expert Houses Organizing Council).
  • Work in the field of city planning and aerial survey (obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Defense).
  • Work in the field of exchange and banking (obtaining the approval of the Bank of Sudan).
  • Work in the field of revenue collection for government agencies (obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Finance).


Conditions for registering a Sudanese company by non-Sudanese nationals.

A non-Sudanese national can register a business or a company name by submitting the following information:

  1. Sole Ownership or Single Activity Business Name; which is represented by an individual or a partnership (established for one business purpose only).
  2. A Company (Limited Liability); which is considered a legal persona, established for multi-purpose activities, and hence requires the presence of at least two shareholders.

Legal requirements for company registration.

  • Proof of identity (passport).
  • Completed forms in accordance with the type of targeted business or investment activities.
  • In the case of registering a business name; there is no need to provide a residency permit, proof of business address, and business name.
  • In the case of registering a company; there is a need to provide a copy of a foreigner’s registration form in addition to a guarantor, the company’s official name, proof of business address, and the company legal documentation.

Accessing capital.

Furthermore, Sudanese companies established by non-Sudanese nationals are governed by the Companies Act of 2015, and therefore, can obtain funding from local banks and funding agencies similar to Sudanese owner and established business. Moreover, as registered company is a legal persona, access to funding is subject to internal regulations and procedure of the bank or funding agency.

Investment Regulations and Legal Frameworks

Historical Overview of Sudan’s Investment Law.

Since independence in 1956, the Sudanese law was established through Sharia, however, since the uprising in 2019, the Transitional Constitutional Document recognized common law principles and established the document through a mixture of Sharia law and common principles.

The below table 4 showcases bilateral and multilateral investment treaties Sudan entered since its independence:

Bilateral Investment Treaties 


Multilateral Investment Treaties






  • China (1999)
  • Egypt (2000)
  • Ethiopia (2001)
  • France (1978)
  • Germany (1963)
  • India (2003)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran (1999)
  • Netherlands (1970)
  • Switzerland (1974)




  • Signed & In-Force
  • The Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area (2007)


  • Not Yet Ratified 
  • Algeria (2001)
  • The Belgium- Luxemburg Economic Union (2005)
  • Italy (2005)
  • Kuwait (2001)
  • Malaysia (1998)
  • Turkey (2014)
  • Signed but not yet In-Force
  • The Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and ESA (Eastern & Southern Africa) (2012)
  • The Agreement on Investment and free Movement of Arab Capital among Arab countries (1970)
  • The Agreement on Promotion, Protection, and Guarantee of Investments among Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (1988)



  • Signed & effective


Investment Disputes.

An article reviewing Sudan’s investment framework published by IFLR in 2020, mentions that legal reconciliation and resolution related to investment disputes; Sudan established The Investment Dispute Court to solve any investment-related matters. In addition, Sudan is also a member of the following treaties which exempts the country from referring to investment courts to resolve conflicts.

The treaties as mentioned in the article are:

  • The Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab Capital in Arab States (1980).
  • The Agreement for the Settlements of Investment Disputes among Arab States (1970).
  • The Agreement for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Citizens of other States (1965).
  • The General Agreement for Economic, Technical, and Commercial Co-operation among Member States of Islamic Conference (1977).

Investment Incentives.

The previous government established the National Investment Encouragement Act in 2013 that aimed at attracting foreign investors by providing legislations of fairness and equal treatment across national and international investments. It also provides a large exemption of confiscation or appropriation strategies, as well as providing investors the rights to import foreign labor, and residency is provided to them and their families.

Furthermore, the National Investment Authority (Authority) composed a list it considers to be investment applicable and meets its criteria, according to this list, capital that is imported to fund a project is exempt from VAT. Currently, this has changed due to the new customs exemption list issued in late June 2021.

Status of Current Economic Reforms.

Recently highlighted in the national and international media, is the clearance of Sudan’s arrears with The International development Association and many countries exempting their due debt and reducing the country’s nearly $60 billion debt burden, in addition to its full engagement with the World Bank after a long isolation. This will allow the country to enter new deals for financing economic development.

Ousmane Dione, the World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan said in a recent statement: “Now we will be able to fully support the Sudanese people with all of the financing tools at our disposal at a time when it’s most needed.” About the political, social, and economic deterioration of the country especially in this last decade turning it from a low-medium income country to a low-income status declared in July 2020

Politically, the country’s transitional government is following a twin-track approach in bettering peoples living conditions that have been noticeably declining for decades. This approach aims to achieve two major outcomes; recovering the country’s economic situation and establishing peace to overcomes internal conflict. The government already started carrying out this approach through the implementation of hefty economic reforms, in addition to efforts in establishing peaceful agreements with armed forces through its political ruling combined with a civilian and a military transitional government.

In the investment sphere, lifting the sanctions and the country’s weighty external debt is the first step toward empowering the government to take the necessary regulations and reforms to position Sudan as an investment and a business hub, and a gateway to the entire region. Some of these economic reforms in addition to the abovementioned are allowing non-Islamic banking which is expected to attract investment from foreign non-Islamic countries and institutions.

One of the sectors that the government is focusing on, and which will have a direct impact on foreign investment, is the security sector reforms, as the transitional government pledged to lift the previously and traditionally known military management and clear monopoly over important sectors like the mining industry, with unfair exemption over military-led trade activities, which created loopholes for smuggling and embezzlement. In this regard, the Sovereign Council Vice President, Mohamed Hamdan, has pledged to turn over the mining of the large gold resource of Jebel Amer to the transitional government in which the latter plans to regulate its production and privatize it. This will eventually attract interest in the mining sector but also the development of other sectors and the establishment of more industries.

On the other hand, the country’s recent resumed engagement with the World Bank under the leadership of Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdook, is aiming to support vulnerable groups living below the poverty line, who will be even more impacted by these economic reforms. This effort is being achieved through The Sudan Family Support Programme (SFSP), the program will also help in strengthening the foundation for economic growth and improving social programs. In a press release published on March 2021 by the World Bank on its engagement with Sudan and this specific initiative, the article states that “The $820 million SFSP, which the Sudanese call Thamarat, aims to deliver cash transfers to 80% of Sudanese families, nearly 32 million citizens, to mitigate the impact of short- term economic shocks. It will also deliver jobs and help digitize the economy. The program also provides pre-arrears clearance grants supporting the government budget. Half of the $820 million projects are financed through 13 generous bilateral donors, and the other by IDA pre-arrears clearance grants”.

More programs and initiatives have been designed by the World Bank to support the Sudanese transitional government in their efforts toward improving the economy, education, and health, including an emergency Covid-19 response project.

“We have felt Sudan’s absence from our programming for the past 27 years - and are very happy to welcome them back,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “We stand ready to support the Sudanese people in their efforts to build a stronger economy that reduces poverty, delivers prosperity, and a better future.”

Status of Current Legal Reforms.

Among the new government’s efforts in attracting investments to the country, new legislations have been introduced that almost entirely change the old ways and instead boldly introduced Sudan to direct foreign investment. For instance, the new Investment Encouragement Act was issued this year, 2021 together with other Acts that further promote and enable an attractive environment for investment, the Public-Private Partnership Act, and the New Banking Act both issues in 2021 as well. These Acts are aiming to boost economic growth, recover the investment reputation of the country, create job opportunities, and unleash the full potential of the countries’ vast natural resources and geographical settings.

This is to be achieved through principles under Article 5 of the new investment act, which introduces criteria that includes pro- tection of the environment, public health, enabling innovation and entrepreneurship, introducing cross-cutting technology in sectoral production, and above all meet the needs of the local and regional market of small to medium businesses. While maintain- ing some of the regulations and legal frameworks of the previous Acts, specifically with settlements of investment disputes and the one-window system that provides services under all Sudanese states, moreover, the new Act based on the recommendation of the Ministry of Investment will introduce a list of sectors and eco- nomic activities that will not be subjected for foreign investment.

While there hasn’t been any specific policy to address startups or the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem, the current transitional government have been taking steps in establishing appropriate reforms that may provide incentives for the growing entrepreneurial segment across sectors.