The economic services sector is central to the development of all other sectors. It contributed 44 percent of the National Domestic Product in the year 1999.
This sector includes various infrastructure and economic services. Great opportunities exist in both of them.
Potentialities and Opportunities in the Transport Sector
Sudan's development strategy aims at increasing the land transport capability by twenty times, paving more tarmac roads, connecting the whole country by proper means of air transport, and promoting the present airports and airstrips in order to make Sudan a real transport and communications centre at international and regional levels. The river transport sector is also being modernized and its capability increased twenty times. Some industries to manufacture means of transport such as vehicles, river vessels etc., locally in Sudan are given prominence in the investment strategies.
Realization of these objectives generates many investment opportunities, and the private sector is expected to contribute the greatest portion under the privatization policy.
Among the investment opportunities in the transport sector, the following opportunities can be cited:
Transportation needs of all sectors using specialized haulage techniques and means; establishment of maintenance workshops and spare parts centres; investment in river transport; and investment in the air transport sector - both passenger and cargo services.
The Railway Corporation is among the largest networks of transport on the African Continent extending about 4,750 km- The railway line covers the whole country from Port Sudan in the East to Nyala in the West, and Wadi Haifa in the North to Wau in the South.
The Corporation is engaged in transporting passengers, goods and livestock. Due to recent developments in the transport field, the Railways Corporation started rehabilitating and revitalizing itself by working on a sound commercial basis. Investment in the rehabilitation requirements of Sudan Railways is considered a priority.
In 1998 Sudan's road system totalled between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometres, comprising an extremely sparse network for the size of the country. Asphalted all-weather roads, excluding paved streets in cities and towns, amounted to roughly3,000 to 3,500 kilometers of which the Khartoum-Port Sudan road accounted for almost 1200 kilometers. There are between 3,000 and 4,000 kilometers of gravel roads located mostly in the southern region where lateritic road-building materials are abundant. In general, these roads are useable all year round, although travel might be interrupted at times during the rainy season.
Small private companies, chiefly owner-operated trucks, furnished most road transport. The government has encouraged private enterprise in this industry, especially in the central and eastern parts of the country, and the construction of all weather roads has led to rapid increases in the number of hauling businesses.
The Nile River provides an important inland transportation route. Its overall usefulness, however, has been limited by natural factors, including a number of cataracts in the main Nile between Khartoum and the Egyptian borders. The White Nile to the south of Khartoum has shallow stretches that restrict the carrying capacities of barges, especially during the period of low water, and the river has sharp bends. A major impediment to traffic has been the spread of the water hyacinth.
The creation of the Civil Aviation Authority dates back to 1936. The first airport was established east of Khartoum during World War II. Currently the Corporation has more than 17 airports in Sudan, the biggest being the Khartoum airport. Domestic and international air services are provided by Sudan Airways, a government-owned company. Many foreign carriers operate from Khartoum. The company has a fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. Sudan Airways is also heading towards privatization to which strategic and credible partners are invited.
River Transport and Shipping:
Presently Sudan has an operational deep harbour, Port Sudan, situated at the Red Sea. The Port, built to complement the railroad line from Khartoum to the Red Sea, serves as the entry and exit point for the country's trade. Another port, Osman Digna of Suakin, was opened in January 1991, and is capable of handling an estimated 1.5 million tons of cargo. It is also a passenger terminal. Interested investors in this field are invited.
Sudan Shipping Line:
Established in 1959, Sudan Shipping Line (SSL) is the national sea carrier and ship owner. It is in fact one of the largest and oldest shipping companies in the Arab and Middle Eastern region.
Sudan Shipping Line expanded the volume of its operations and diversified its fleet units to 15 various multi-purpose vessels of total capacity TDW of 159,000 M.T.
SSL started with equal shared capital between the Central Bank of Sudan and the Yugoslav Foreign Trade Bank. However later on, the Government of Sudan bought the shares of Yugoslavia, and SSL capital has been fully owned by the Government of Sudan since January 1967. SSL is keen to secure eminence as well as to play a positive role in the country's socio-economic activities.
Warehousing and Storage:
The warehousing sector is central in the economies of production especially in the agricultural sector.
Despite the availability of many dry and cool warehousing containers in Sudan, storage capabilities do not meet the present demands and do not cope with the increasing storage requirements that have emerged lately.
Warehousing and storage demand is an essential investment area. Building dry or cool storage facilities, establishing mobile fridge container transport units, the rehabilitation of the present storage facilities, like raising the capacity of Port Sudan granary to 100,000 tons, arc attractive opportunities.
Housing and Construction:
The housing and construction sector builds houses, hospitals, educational institutions, roads, bridges, airports etc. This sector faces great challenges in order to keep abreast with the development and the overall investment climate in Sudan. Great investment opportunities are available in this sector.
Telecommunications are being modernized. A satellite ground station near the capital working with the International Telecommunication Satellite Corporation (Intelsat) provides direct dialing between Sudan and Europe, North America, and other parts of Africa. In addition, a second satellite ground station is linked to the Arab Satellite (Arabsat)'s network serving members of the League of Arab States. Sudan is also member of the African RASCOM project.
The Telecommunications exchange was greatly improved with the establishment of Sudanese Telecommunication Company (Sudatel) a public share-holding company, with the aim of extending telecommunication services and modernizing equipment and networks.
The Educational and Medical Services:
Educational and medical services are generally provided by the stale-owned educational institutions and the Ministry of Health's hospitals. Because of the high demand, investment opportunities are left open to the private sector to venture in establishing specialized private hospitals, importing of modern diagnostic centres; to establish educational institutes in the various fields of science and technology, vocational, medical, engineering, agricultural, veterinary and economic training fields.