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Some Light at the End of Khartoum’s Economic Tunnel

Sudan has settled its debts with the World Bank after nearly three decades, moving the heavily indebted African country closer to a much-needed international debt-relief package. World Bank President David Malpass said the move meant Sudan could now access nearly $2 billion in grants from the Bank’s International Development Association. Clearing the arrears, which date back to the years of ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir and earlier, was made possible through a $1.15 billion bridge loan from the U.S. government. Sudan’s Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim said clearance of the arrears would enable the country to secure financing from the World Bank Group and other multilateral institutions and move forward with transformative development projects. Sudan fulfilled one of the main conditions demanded by international donors in February when it took steps to unify its official and black-market exchange rates. Electricity, fuel, and bread, have become more expensive in recent months in Sudan, as shortages of the commodities persist or worsen. A source familiar with the matter said Sudan’s overall debt includes about $2.8 billion owed to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank (ADB); $19 billion owed to countries in the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors; $21 billion to non-Paris Club members; and the rest to commercial creditors.