The demands exceeded the electricity tariff.. The protests in northern Sudan affect trade with Egypt

The artery of the North, which is dominated by protests, witnessed an increase in imports from Egypt and through it to Sudan following the closure of Port Sudan port on the Red Sea, and the number of vehicles loaded with products and goods coming from Egypt increased to 85 instead of 40 trucks per day.

Khartoum- The people of northern Sudan raised the ceiling of their demands, which were sparked by the unprecedented increase in electricity tariffs, at the beginning of this year, reaching 1000% in some sectors.

A meeting of farmers in the northern state decided to submit a set of demands to the governor of the region and the Sovereignty Council, threatening to close the state completely and demand autonomy, which would impede the trade route between Egypt and Sudan.

The resistance committees and citizens in several areas began erecting barriers, again, along the northern road that crosses the state from Khartoum and heading to Wadi Halfa, in the far north, and then crosses the border to connect Sudan with the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The revolution sparked by the Ministry of Finance with the decision to increase the electricity tariff at the beginning of the year, and the Sovereignty Council tried to extinguish it by freezing the decision, quickly returned with other demands, but the issue of electricity remained one of them.

The people of the northern state had lifted the roadblocks on the 13th of this month after a 3-day closure, after the Sovereignty Council formed a committee headed by council member Abu al-Qasim Bartam, to look into the problem.

The committee ended up freezing the decision and returning to the previous tariff, but soon the government returned to work with the decision to increase it again.

The North Road is a vital corridor from Sudan to Egypt, and the Sudanese authorities record an increase in imports from Egypt and across it to Sudan in the past year (French)

Bypassing the issue of electricity

The leader of the revolutionary movement in Delgo locality, Amr Muhammad Faqir, said that the Sovereignty Council’s first initiative was to solve the electricity tariff problem in which the road was closed, and that the Council does not have any new initiative to solve the issue now.

Fekir believes that the demands raised by the Northern State Farmers’ Association this time came as a result of the shift in consciousness that resulted from the “December Revolution”. He told Al Jazeera Net that the people of the state have bypassed the issue of electricity, and are now demanding their rights to the resources produced by their region, but the issue of electricity tariffs will remain among the main issues.

The head of the “Abdom Qashaby” association, Mahjoub Muhammad Mahjoub, confirms that the people of the North have now escalated their demands, and are calling for stopping exports to Egypt, which does not bring the country benefits from foreign currency.

Mahjoub said – to Al Jazeera Net – that the community leaders and all the people of the North stood against increasing the electricity tariff in this way, because it would affect agriculture centrally, especially since the North depends on irrigation through pumps from the Nile River and wells that run on electricity.

He warned against stopping large projects from working, as the increase in electricity tariffs amounted to 1000%, which is “an unreasonable thing”, as he put it.

Conditions to avoid escalation

The Northern State Farmers’ Association set conditions for the central government to avoid escalation, foremost of which is the legalization of the entry of Egyptian trucks, the reciprocal treatment of drivers’ entry to both countries, and the establishment of scales on the North Artery Road.

He also demanded that the state be given its share of the electricity of the “Merowe Dam”, which amounts to 5%, in addition to determining the state’s share of mining revenues, and against the recent electricity tariff increases, and the construction of two canals of the Merowe dam.

He said that the erection of roadblocks to prevent the depletion of Sudan’s resources, the purpose of which is to stop the export of the country’s wealth without a lucrative return. He stressed that this measure came after all political and societal forces joined the movement.

Merowe Dam, whose electricity the northern state is demanding (Reuters)

negative economic effects

The North Artery Road witnessed an increase in imports from Egypt and across it to Sudan, following the closure of Port Sudan on the Red Sea. According to a previous statement by the director of the Ashkeet border crossing between Egypt and Sudan, Major General Abbas Kurdi, the number of vehicles loaded with products and goods coming from Egypt increased to 85 instead of 40 trucks per day.

Sudan exports to Egypt sesame crops, bananas, vegetables, slaughtered and live meat, and cotton, while it imports production equipment and inputs, ceramics, household utensils, foodstuffs and furniture.

Financial and economic analyst Babiker Elias says that the latest foreign trade statistics issued by the Central Bank indicate that Egypt is the largest market for exports from Sudan among the COMESA countries, “the common market for eastern and southern Africa.”

The trade balance between the two countries tends to favor Egypt, as the volume of Sudanese exports to Egypt in 2020-2021 amounted to more than 346 million dollars, while Sudan’s imports from Egypt amounted to more than 606 million dollars.

Elias said that imports include industrial supplies, representing 35% of the total imports, while the proportion of consumer goods imports is 65%. He added that the North Road played a key role in trade between the two countries during political and economic crises, and worked on developing and increasing regional trade exchange.

Elias warned that the closure of the North Road has negative effects on the two countries, and that the closure of the East Road and Port Sudan on the Red Sea led to the concentration of animal and agricultural exports to Egypt and through Egypt, which is a source of revenue in the exchange rate market in Sudan.

He said that this will lead to the erosion of the national local added value in the production value chain, and local factories will stop, despite their scarcity, due to their dependence on importing manufacturing inputs, and this will put pressure on the exchange rate market for the Sudanese pound in light of the growing demand for the dollar to meet the payment to import, and then it will lead This is due to the depreciation of the Sudanese pound against foreign currencies.

Elias said that the direct impact is on defense and security budgets, which depend heavily on non-defense exports and sales under the management and supervision of security and military companies in Sudan.

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