WASHINGTON, October 9, 2010 - World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Obiageli Ezekwesili today called for renewed attention to the daunting development needs and opportunities before the people of Sudan, speaking at a roundtable meeting held during the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Washington. This meeting complements the United Nations Secretary General’s meeting on September 24, which called on the world to support Sudan in coming months. Ms. Ezekwesili recognized the importance of implementing the agreements under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including the upcoming referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei, but also stressed the need to give urgent and sustained attention to broad-based economic development across all parts of Sudan.
“We are seizing this moment, when world leaders have their eyes on Sudan, to focus on the people across Sudan, especially the 46% of the population in the North and over 50% in the South who live below the poverty line, and the internal and external resources they will need to improve their livelihood,” Ms. Ezekwesili said.
Sudan faces enormous challenges, in seeking to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, exacerbated by many years of civil conflict. Although per capita income (US$1,230 in 2009) is far above regional standards, levels of poverty remain very high and only 29 per cent of girls attend school. Overreliance on income from oil exports puts the country at the mercy of market volatility, underscoring the need for economic diversification into sectors such as agriculture, as laid out in the World Bank’s recent Country Economic Memorandum. In addition, Sudan carries a heavy international debt burden of US$36 billion, of which arrears are $30 billion.
“These issues are tough, but they must be tackled to give the Sudanese people a shot at a stable and more prosperous future,” Ms. Ezekwesili said. “Our task as international partners is to make sure that we are ready with an appropriate response that puts all people first, regardless of the outcome of the political process.”
The roundtable process, which was launched in April 2010, aims to establish a continuing conversation around the core constraints to development in all parts of Sudan; the key requirements for confronting these constraints; the next steps by the authorities in Sudan and development partners to address those requirements; and the outlines of a longer-term road map for moving the process forward. Participants included high-level authorities from the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan, representatives of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and its member states, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, Canada and regional institutions.