Current Status of Country's Development
Sudan currently stands as the 167th most developed nation according to the UN Human Development Report. Several factors are present which show how underdeveloped Sudan truly is. Three main categories determine the HDI of Sudan:
Long and Healthy Life: Life expectancy has generally been quite low throughout the years. In 2002, the average life expectancy for men was around 55.85 years. The average life expectancy for women was around 58.08 years. More importantly, the majority of the population was young. 45% of the population was younger than 14 years old while there was only around 2% of the population that was older than 65 (Strnad, 431). Judging from these percentages, most people are unable to reach late adulthood. However, recently there has been a growth in the average life expectancy after birth. As of 2014, the life expectancy has increased to around 63.5 years ("HDI Reports). Although there is definite growth, this is still a relatively low number which further decreases Sudan's HDI.
Average Life Expectancy at Birth
Knowledge: Literacy rate, schooling, and general education all fall under this category. Education was once an important aspect to Sudanese life. During the British Colonial era, many people living in Sudan were highly accomplished and succeeded in British schools and universities. However, as time went on, education and the skilled labor force quickly left Sudan (Strnad, 439). Nowadays, the education standard is far less than what is once was. As of 2014, the adult literacy rate of people ages 15 and older is around 73.4%. In terms of education, the average person is expected to have around 7 years of schooling. Of these people, only 15.2% are expected to go through some sort of secondary schooling (HDI Reports).
Decent Standard of Living: Sudan can be seen as one of the more poor countries in the world. Poor life conditions resulted from the harsh climate conditions and the lack of natural resources. Due to continued internal conflict, poverty remains as a significant issue. According to the UN Human Development Report, around 53.1% of the population is in multidimensional poverty. Those who have work are most likely under the agricultural department of Sudan. Due to the poor working conditions, the gross national income per capita is 3,808.3 (HDI Reports).
Causes of Underdevelopment
One of the major sources of Sudan's underdevelopment is due to its geography. Sudan is part of the Sahel Belt of Africa along the edge of the Sahara desert. Much of the countries listed in this area are some of the poorest countries in the world. As a result, Sudan suffers from poor weather conditions and drought. Being historically an agricultural based economy, the dry climate makes such work extremely difficult to perform. Dry seasons make it almost impossible have a successful agricultural economy. Since almost 80% of the workforce is employed in the agricultural business, the failure of crops would mean the failure of most of the population as well. Being located near a desert also means there is generally a lack of natural resources. Without these resources, the economy of Sudan has also suffered greatly (Strnad, 433).
Another large source of underdevelopment has been the internal conflict within Sudan. Sudan has a diverse population. The population contains 19 different ethnic groups and almost 600 different subgroups (Strnad, 431). The large amount of ethnic differences has created issues concerning cultural divide between the Southern Africans and the northern Arabic people. The most recent conflict was the Second Sudanese Civil War. This civil was lasted from 1983-2005 and costed millions of lives. This war was between the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Sudanese government (South Sudan Profile). This civil war resulted from the Sudanese government establishing radical Islamism and Islamic fundamentalism. The southern Sudanese people were outraged by this change and fought against the northern muslim pro-governmental army. The effects of this war greatly affected the lives of all people in Sudan during that time. Poverty and famine quickly increased as the war continued on. Foreign relations were also negatively affected due to the civil war (Strnad, 433). The internal conflicts in Sudan only slowed down Sudan's current status of development.
History of Development Attempts
In the late 1900s and currently in the 21st century, Sudan has gone through various ways to ensure development can successfully continue. In 1990 the IMF declared Sudan as "uncooperative" due to their nonpayment to the fund. Sudan also did not go through with several promised reforms made in the past. To avoid being expelled from the IMF, Sudan had to liberalize exchange rates and reduce subsidies. In 1999, Sudan began implementing IMF programs such as privatization and economic liberalization. Although these privatization programs where not necessarily beneficial to Sudan, the strong ties to other nations within the IMF was helpful. The decreased subsidies led to an increase in other products that Sudan was selling (Strnad, 432).
Foreign Direct Investment also played a significant role in the recent development of Sudan. With the rise of oil mining, Sudan had another viable source of income besides agriculture. After the failure of agriculture due to the effects of the civil war, oil became a very important aspect to Sudan's economy. Foreign direct investment from rich Arab nations helped boost oil pipelines and necessary accessories to improve the production of oil. FDI form other foreign countries such as Qatar, Canada, China, Malaysia, and Australia have opened in Sudan. Currently, Sudan's biggest trading partner is China, selling almost two-thirds of their oil to them. Although oil may have been most successful during the early 2000s due to the help of foreign corporations, this drastically declined in 2011 (shown in graph below). This was due to secession of South Sudan which removed many of the oil fields which Sudan had originally owned. Despite this, Sudan has continued its efforts in the oil industry and has made efforts to bounce back since that incident (About Sudan).
Although Sudan is seen as one of the world's less developed nations, these interactions with foreign corporations and the IMF have shown how Sudan is slowing moving forward from its once difficult past.
Policy Suggestions to Encourage Development
- Strengthen the relations between the people in Sudan: As shown in the 2nd Sudanese Civil War, these kinds of conflicts have negatively impacted development. Currently, the North Kordonfan conflict resembles the previous civil war. This conflict has been ongoing since 2011 and the effects can be seen. War has caused increased poverty and has sent refugees looking for new homes. Like in the past, these sorts of internal conflicts have hindered Sudan through various means. The government of Sudan would be the most important actor to solve this issue. Foreign nations have frowned upon such wars and are less inclined to make trade with a nation currently involved in a war with itself. It is necessary to resolve this fighting in order to further the interests of Sudan.
- Increase privatization: The increase in Sudan's economy especially in terms of oil is due to their exposure with foreign countries. Government controlled corporations have benefited from the exposure of foreign investment and have misused their power. Judging from this, privatization will only aid the efforts Sudan has made to further develop their economy. Although financial experts in Sudan have also feared that the private sector would limit the activities of private companies and encourage monopolies to take over, it is far better to remove the government's total control. The Sudanese government in the past has had a dominant grip on the entire country's economy. As a result, the taxation policy was unreliable and often corrupt. By removing the power from the government, many of the corporations will experience economic liberalization. This act will also strengthen ties with the IMF. The decision to increase privatization will show that Sudan is willing to cooperate with their terms and start implementing these new policies.
- Spend more on ways to improve the quality of life: Not much has been done to improve the lives of the people of Sudan. Factors such as education, jobs, and other aspects of general life have been mostly neglected. However, these aspects are some of the most important ways to increase a country's development. If Sudan were to only focus on the economy, they would not necessarily be more developed due to increase income. There should also be time spent into improving the lives of the poor within Sudan. The government must begin their efforts to spend more of the country's GDP on essential areas concerning the people. Without these improvements, Sudan will not truly been seen as "developed" in the eyes of the U.N. or any other country.
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"Human Development Reports." | Human Development Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
"Life Expectancy at Birth, Total (years)." Life Expectancy at Birth, Total (years) | Data. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
South Sudan Profile - Timeline." BBC News. BBC, 24 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
"Sudan Crude Oil Production | 1994-2017 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast." Sudan Crude Oil Production | 1994-2017 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
"About Sudan." UNDP in Sudan. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.