Sudan-France Summit

France pledges billion euro loan to Sudan’s transitional government

File photo of Sudan's Abdalla Hamdok (l) and French President Emmanuel Macron (r)
File photo of Sudan's Abdalla Hamdok (l) and French President Emmanuel Macron (r) REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Sudan will be one step closer to paying off its foreign debt on Monday, after French President Emmanuel Macron promised a loan of 1.2 billion euros. He praised the country as an "inspiration" in its transition after 30 years of authoritarian rule.

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"For the first time in the entire region, it put an end to a regime using the weapon of political Islam to cover up its mistakes and to divide its people," said Macron, who hosted a special summit in Paris on Monday as a way to welcome Sudan back into the international system.

The money will help to pay off some of its foreign debt, as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is tasked with paying off a whopping 49.4 billion-euro debt.

Macron hopes that the Sudanese example will show that countries can bounce back from dictatorship if they embrace democracy.

"Despite the difficulties, considerable progress has been made since the fall of the old regime," said Macron, referring to the iron-fisted rule of Omar al-Bashir before he was deposed in 2019.

Bringing Investment

Part of this summit is also to jump-start the economy by luring investors to come to Sudan, a large country with arable, unused land.

"We are going to the Paris conference to let foreign investors explore the opportunities for investing in Sudan," Hamdok told AFP newswire before the summit.

"We are not looking for grants or donations," he added.

And an announcement by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire before the summit included a 1.2 billion-euro bridge loan would clear Sudan's arrears to the IMF.

International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva, and top European Union diplomats including foreign policy chief Josep Borrell are also in Paris to discuss investment in the country.

Akinwumi Adesina, head of the African Development Bank (ADB), was also on hand at the summit and says that the ADB cannot work on its own but works in tandem with the only financial bodies.

"The board of the ADB approved wiping out 355 million euros," Adesina told RFI on the sidelines of the summit.

"And today the African Development Bank is showing support for the commitments made today by President Emmanuel Macron and the Sudanese leaders by announcing additional funding," he added.

Sudan had been previously been closed off to investors because it was on the US blacklist for sponsors of state terrorism. It paid reparations to the US and was taken off the list in December.

On Tuesday, Macron is hosting another economic summit in Paris to focus on shortfalls in African economies due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Monetary Fund believes the funding gap for the African continent could be up to nearly 240 billion euros by 2023.

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