Strategically located in North East Africa, Sudan continued to play an important role in the political, economic and cultural domains in both the African and Arab regions. It enjoys membership of the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, IGAD and other organizations, while maintaining its membership of the United Nations since its independence in January of 1956. Sudan has a population of 39 million (2009 census) and has been enjoying a fast growing economy for the past ten years. Its economy gained a significant boost when it started exporting oil in 1999 (current production 520,000 b/d). At the same time, the country witnessed intensive infrastructural investments (roads, bridges, telecommunications, dams, electric power generation etc...) both foreign and national. Sudan's per capita income rose from US$506 in 2003 to US$1139 in 2007.
Overall real GDP growth averaged about 9 percent. Moreover, one should note that increased oil production and revival of some light industries helped sustain gross domestic product. Improvements in monetary policies and stabilization of the exchange rate were also made possible in spite of the pressures and challenges of the international monetary crisis.
Agriculture remains of great importance and potential to Sudan’s economy (80% of total employment). In addition, Sudan has rich mineral resources, other than oil, such as natural gas, gold ($1billion estimated exports in 2011) silver, chromite, uranium, lead, copper, cobalt, iron granite and aluminum.
Sudan’s political evolution has also seen a landmark development with the signing and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and the South, which was concluded in January of 2005 and ended Africa’s longest civil war. This achievement, gave Sudan a remarkable opportunity to live in peace and consequently devote valuable efforts to the task of reconstruction and development.
Most recently (9 January 2011) Sudan conducted a referendum in the South, as part of the 2005 Peace Agreement and it resulted in the choice of the Southerners to have their own state and this will become fully implemented in July of this year. However, both sides pledged to maintain peace and cooperation in all fields for the benefit of people in both the North and the South. Also, the government in the North is taking multifaceted economic measures to compensate for the oil revenues that would become part of the South revenues, by increasing oil exploration and production in the North, intensifying and increasing production of gold and other minerals and further developing the agricultural sector.
The Sudanese banking system is associated with two main characteristics, namely being the first in the world based on the rules of Islamic Shariah /law, prohibiting interest rates since 1983. Moreover, it adopted in 2005 a dual system (based on the Peace Agreement) allowing the South to have conventional banking while having the North maintaining the Islamic banking system. This has been a challenge, successfully managed for the sake of peace, however, it will end in July 2011 as the North and the South will become two separate states, each maintaining its own banking system.
The Sudan has a well established system of deposit insurance embodied in the Bank Deposit Security Fund (BDSF) which is hosting the Third Seminar on Islamic Deposit Insurance in Khartoum during the period 26-27 April 2011. The BDSF was established in February 1996 as an independent association having corporate personality. Member banks pay premiums to the Fund to protect deposits. Membership is compulsory for all deposit-taking institutions (banks and financial institutions and also foreign banks branches. Accordingly, BDSF is responsible for protecting depositors, promoting savings and enhancing stability and safety of the financial system. It is a pay-box funded ex-ante. In sum, BDSF main features as an Islamic deposit insurance fund are that it is non-commercial, government owned, with mandatory membership, funded ex-ante, investment depositors contribute in the payment of premiums and funds should be invested according to Islamic rules.
Khartoum , the Capital city of Sudan, where the seminar is taking place is uniquely situated at the confluence of the white and the Blue Niles , forming the River Nile and it is encompassing three cities(Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman) connected with a number of bridges. The venue of the conference is chosen to allow participants enjoy this unique meeting point of the two Niles.
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