WASHINGTON, April 17, 2011—A third Sudan Roundtable, a forum launched by the World Bank to promote broad partnership in support of Sudan’s development, was held during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. The event was co-chaired by the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, and the Vice President of the Africa Region of the World Bank, Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili.
The forum provided the opportunity for the governments of North and South Sudan to report on the progress made in terms of their respective development programs. It also offered an opportunity for the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP) to inform the roundtable on progress in the negotiation of various issues, following the January 2011 referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan.
Donors and institutions welcomed the progress made in both respects. President Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the AUHIP, emphasised that the framework for these negotiations was the creation of two viable states, and win-win solutions for both the North and South. He said the AUHIP hoped that an agreement would be reached by the end of May.
Dr. Kaberuka said: “Continued support by the international community to the Sudanese and the AUHIP will be crucial for the successful implementation of the agreement the parties will reach in resolving the debt issue. Donor policy coherence and harmonization are going to be put to the test in Southern Sudan. Building a new nation from scratch requires significant investments in institutions and strong ownership of the process by the Sudanese themselves.”
Ms. Ezekwesili said: “The upcoming transition is an opportunity to break away from that past of conflict and insecurity, and to make progress on key themes outlined in the 2011 World Development Report, including citizen security, justice and jobs. Some of these themes are also central to our new strategy for Bank engagement in Africa. Creating the conditions for this agenda requires rapid progress on the negotiations between North and South.”
The roundtable also discussed the issue of Sudan’s external debt. Participants took note of the progress both North and South have made in the negotiations on debt related issues, including the agreement to conduct joint outreach by both governments to creditors. Participants emphasized their commitment to assist in resolving external debt issues, a key prerequisite for the development prospects of both North and South. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund co-lead the Sudan Technical Working Group on Debt, which brings together representatives of major creditors.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is currently providing technical and advisory support to the AUHIP on post-referendum negotiations related to financial and economic issues, including debt and cross-border trade. Pending the resolution of Sudan’s arrears, the AfDB has focused on scaling up its engagement on policy issues both in North and South Sudan. In supporting the South Sudan Development Plan, the AfDB will assist the government to make an early start on designing implementation arrangements for the plan. The AfDB has underlined the importance of ensuring “quick wins” for large numbers of urban and/or rural households.
The World Bank Group also reiterated its continued support to both parts of the country. The institution is currently considering ways to assist Sudan in light of the transition, and have begun consultations with its Executive Directors to explore exceptional ways to provide support. The Bank is also working closely with the International Monetary Fund to ensure that the linked membership processes for South Sudan move forward as quickly as possible. To date, the Bank has been actively supporting Sudan through the administration of two Multi-Donor Trust Funds, and through a robust program of research and advisory services.
Participants at the roundtable also recognized the need to rethink the approach to aid architecture and donor coordination in South Sudan. This is to ensure a coherent and effective support to the transition process, and in support of the Southern Sudanese Development Plan.
Besides President Thabo Mbeki, participants included President Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar and President Pierre Buyoya, also members of the AUHIP; Mr. Jean Ping, Chairman of the Commission of the African Union; Ambassador Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan; Marisa Lago, U.S. Assistant Treasury Secretary; Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Union Commissioner for Development; Ms. Margaret Carey, Director, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations; prominent Sudanese entrepreneur, Dr. Mo Ibrahim; as well as high-level authorities from the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and its member states, Norway, China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Canada and regional institutions.