Skip to content

How Energy has Shaped Sudan’s Violent Political Economy

Much of the international news coverage has focused on the clashing ambitions of the two generals.  A forthcoming paper by a professor teaching at Columbia University in the Journal of Modern African Studies details the strategic calculus of the Sudan Armed Forces in managing revolution and democratisation efforts, today as well as in past transitions. Drawing on this expertise, it is important to underline that three decades of contentious energy politics among rival elites forms a crucial background to today’s conflict. The current conflict comes after a decade-long recession which has drastically lowered the living standards of Sudanese citizens as the state teetered on the brink of insolvency. Sudan’s Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces have been violently competing for control of the political economy’s remaining lucrative niches, such as key import-export channels. Both believe the survival of their respective institutions is essential to preventing the country from descending into total disintegration. In view of such contradictions and complexity, there are no easy solutions to Sudan’s multiple crises. The political, economic and humanitarian situation is likely to worsen further.