Economy and infrastructure

Sudan today

Historically, agriculture was the main source of income and employment in Sudan. It still makes up a third of the country's economy, reportedly employing 60 to 80 percent of the workforce. Cotton is the principal export crop. Other major cash crops are cottonseed, sesame, sugarcane, peanuts and dates. The main subsistence crops are sorghum, millet and wheat. Unstable climatic conditions and low mechnization make subsistence agriculture a susceptible sector. Livestock raising, pursued throughout Sudan, is still widely following traditional patterns. Sudan has the second largest camel population in the world. Substantial exports of live camels go to Egypt, Libya and other gulf countries.

Oil has been the backbone of Sudan's economy since the early 2000s. With the independence of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan lost 75% of its oilfields. But it still is an oil-producing country, and it is also transporting and refining oil from South Sudan. The primary importers of Sudanese oil are Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia and India.

The oil sector aside, Sudan's most important industries are agricultural processing and various light industries located mostly in the industrial areas around Khartoum. The country also produces its own vehicles, both small cars and trucks, under the name of Giad.

Sudan has great mineral resources. In the past decade, prospection for gold revealed substantial deposits in many regions of the country. Next to the onset of industrial exploitation, this has resulted in a veritable gold rush, which has lured thousands of artisanal miners into to desert areas of northern Sudan. Other minerals like chromium, kaolin and copper are exploited, especially for export to China, which is Sudan's most important trading partner.

In the past two decades, Sudan has struggled to expand its transport system, replacing desert tracks by tarmac roads connecting the different regions and the major cities of the country. It is also seeking to expand its capacity to generate electricity, most recently with the highly controversial Merowe Dam at the Fourth Nile Cataract, which is the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa. More dams are planned further up- and downstream.