Sudan Economic Structure

April 8, 2010Sudanby EconomyWatch Content


 Buffeted by civil wars, political instability, unfavorable weather and terrain, and counterproductive economic policies, Sudan’s economic structure is limited in reach. While the oil sector has been instrumental in the growth of the Sudanese economy in the last decade, the nation continues to rely heavily on agriculture. Reliance of a large percentage of the population on subsistence agriculture is responsible for stagnation of the economy, despite rapid increase in Sudan’s average per capita income.

Sudan Economic Structure: Overview

Of the total 11.92 billion labor force in Sudan, according to CIA reports, the agricultural sector is accountable for about 80% of the employment. Cotton is the chief export commodity of the nation and an integral contributor to the economy. Sudan is also the third largest producer of sesame in the world, after India and China. The nation also produces large volumes of wheat and sorghum, but these are basically cultivated for domestic consumption. Despite having a dynamic agricultural economy, the sector’s contribution to the economy has not increased substantially because of problems related to transportation and irrigation.


Infrastructural problems also extend to Sudan’s industry sector. Despite having bountiful mineral resources, exploration in Sudan has been limited. The industry sector, however, exports small volumes of chromium, mica and asbestos. Employing only 7% of the labor force, Sudan’s industries managed to have a positive growth rate of 2.1% in 2009, according to CIA estimates. Petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, textiles and automobile assembly are some of the key industries in Sudan’s economic structure.


In Sudan’s service sector, the key contributors are restaurants and hotels, commerce services, transport and communications, and finance and insurance. The sector’s contribution to Sudan’s GDP over the last few years, despite employing only about 10-15% of the workforce, has been substantial. In 2010, the Sudanese service sector accounted for an astounding 38.9% of the nation’s GDP, according to the CIA World Factbook. 


Sudan Economic Structure: Status of the Financial Sector

Sudan has a small, undeveloped financial system, which is largely governed by Islamic monetary principles, including the prohibition to charge. Sudan’s banking sector comprises of either fully or partially private-owned banks. The Sudanese financial sector suffers from weak lending practices, supervision and regulation. Besides, a majority of the population is not associated with the formal banking sector due to limited access to credit, which also hinders Sudanese businesses. Sudan has a small capital market, which primarily trades in bank shares, on the nation’s Khartoum Stock Exchange.

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