Kuwait hosts international donors and investors conference for Eastern Sudan
Kuwait – The International Donors and Investors Conference for East Sudan inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Kuwait, H.H Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, commenced this morning. In his opening speech the Prime Minister said, the main interest of the participating countries is to “aid the brotherly nation of Sudan in resolving the conflicts and challenges that it is facing at present and move forward towards development under the umbrella of peace and security”. The Government of Sudan out of their national commitment to improve conditions in eastern Sudan, came to the table with a pledge of 1,572, 000,000 US dollars. Head of the Sudanese delegation, Assistant to the President, Mr. Musa Mohamed Ahmed announced that this pledge is, “to fund projects in education, health, water, electricity and transport, agriculture, irrigation and livestock in all three states of Eastern Sudan.
“The Kuwait Conference marks an important milestone for the Government of Sudan in its engagement with the international community,” remarked Georg Charpentier, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UNDP, Sudan. “We at UNDP are honored to be a partner of the Government of Sudan in catalyzing efforts to kick-start activities geared to deliver basic services and develop infrastructure in all three states of Eastern Sudan to ensure balanced growth and progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals.”
A documentary film produced by UNDP on Eastern Sudan was shown at the opening session of the conference. The film was very well received by the audience who responded positively to the emotional testimonials of the people of the East who were interviewed in the short film.
The steering committee comprised of the Government of Sudan and their partners in this major initiative the Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economic Development, the East Reconstruction and Development Fund in Sudan, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Islamic Development Bank and UNDP – Sudan, with the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce diligently worked to ensure that the projects were researched and ready, said Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Of the 500 project proposals received addressing the needs of the people of East Sudan in basic services, infrastructure and investment 180 projects were selected.
39 countries represented by 220 people, 70 regional and international organizations and Non-governmental Organizations, and 84 representatives of international and regional businesses participated in the conference.
This conference will help East Sudan achieve its potential and restore the normalcy of life in the region, that is the particular interest of the Emir of Kuwait, said Mr. Abdelwahab Albader, Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economic Development in his opening remarks at yesterday’s press conference, held by the Kuwait Fund.
He said, “Arab cooperation and investment is the right of all people”. In response to questions about Kuwait’s pledge yesterday Albader remarked that when invited to lunch one hopes to be fed. In fact the hosting Government of Kuwait made a pledge of 500 million US Dollars today to be disbursed through the Kuwait Fund at this morning’s first session. Sheikh Mohammad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said “450 million dollars will be allotted for infrastructure projects in Eastern Sudan through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the remaining 50 million dollars as a grant for social projects.”
At yesterday’s press conference the Sudanese Presidential Advisor on Eastern Sudan, H.E Mustafa Osman Ismail spoke of Kuwait’s long-standing relationship with Sudan beginning with Kuwaiti investment in the Sudanese railroad in the 1960s. “Kuwait knows Sudan very well”, he said. Kuwait’s success record in development and investment are the reasons that led the government of Sudan to ask them to host this conference.
Dr. Ismail introduced Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Galal ElDigeir who answered the important query about insurance for investors in East Sudan. El Digeir assured “yes, Sudan is covered for investment”. He explained that Sudan is a member of several regional and international bodies for investment insurance.
“We have very attractive investment laws in Sudan,” Mr. Su’ood Mamoon Al Berier President of the Sudanese Businessmen’s Union, told the business representatives, and media in the opening session of the Investment Workshop at the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce later in the day.
5 weeks before the Sudanese referenda, this conference holds major significance for the future of the people of the Sudan. The success of this conference could change the economy and standard of living of 12% of Sudan’s population in the very least. When asked about the effect of the upcoming Referenda, Dr. Ismail expressed his hope that the Sudan would remain united, however he added that if the South chooses separation the East will not be affected negatively because it has been enjoying stability since the 2006 peace agreement.
Further pledges were made at this morning’s first session. The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced that his government would invest 200 million dollars in various projects and introduced the idea that similar conferences should be arranged for the other regions of the Sudan to promote unity. The European Union's European Commission, represented by Dame Rosalind Marsden, Special Envoy to Sudan, plan to contribute 24 million Euros. Italy promised 3 million Euros. The Arab Investment Insurance Organisation pledged to provide support for 300 million US dollars in investments.
At the beginning of this evening’s second session The United Kingdom announced that they would invest 45 million pounds sterling over a 4 year period in poverty reduction projects, water and social services followed by pledges of 5 million dollars by both Germany and Norway. The Norwegians will direct their donation specifically into the Self Reliance Programmes for Refugees run through UN agencies. China, already a large investor in Sudan, announced a pledge of 20 million dollars. Other nations continue to show their support and will announce their contributions and pledges through out tomorrow’s sessions.
Kumar Tiku: Head, Communications Unit, UNDP Sudan: firstname.lastname@example.org