Sudan: Economics

In the desert country of Sudan, located to the west of the Red Sea, there has been much turmoil and suffering since they received their independence from the UK and Egypt in 1956. Sudan has been the focus of International attention for much of the 20th century, as millions of Sudanese have lost their lives due to years of civil war, droughts, famines, and resource scarcity. Many solutions have been made to try to bring about peace and prosperity to the people of Sudan. This site focuses on the power of having the opportunity to make choices and solutions that can be made to bring about Sudan's ability to increase their capacity to have and make different choices in their individual lives. We will also be looking at the best setting having an optimum of choices, by looking at their current economic and governmental policies.

In the early history of what is now Sudan, the economy was based on a feudal system, where slaves supported the ruling Arab merchants who brought Islam to this region. Later in the 19 th century, British missionaries converted much of the people of southern Sudan to Christianity. This was the start to much division among northern and southern Sudan. By the time Sudan received their independence from the UK and Egypt in 1956, there was much animosity from the south, which brought on the first civil war.

Sudan also faces another economic problem, as Sudan is a country that is mostly landlocked by Chad, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Ethiopia, and Congo. This greatly restricts Sudan's ability to trade with other countries, as well as limit the natural resources that the influence of water has. These bordering countries have also had an enormous influence on Sudan, both politically and economically. The UK and the United States have also had a large impact on Sudan.

Up until the 1970's, Sudan's agricultural output was internally consumed. This proved to be ineffective and resulted in slow economic growth and a low standard of living. Then, in 1972 the Sudanese began to export food and cash crops to western countries, but unfortunately commodity prices fell in the 1970's and caused problems in Sudan's economy. At the same time, the deficit from servicing costs of money spent on mechanization of agriculture also rose. Although, Sudan has tried to implement sound economic policies to fight some of their resource and technological limitations, they have still faced misfortunes in their economy. For more information concerning the early influences of Sudan please visit Wikipedia's Web site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sudan).

I think examining the economics in Sudan would be particularly beneficial as we look at the current situation going on in Sudan. Economics is the study of choices. In Sudan, a place where the threat of death is always lingering, many of the choices the Sudanese people can make are greatly restricted. According to a recent report, found in The Economist, 2005, it states that because Sudan is becoming more and more unsafe, particularly the region of Darfur, the many refugee camps in the region are becoming permanent and may never go back to their homeland. The article also went on to make this statement about the refugees in Sudan:

The real test will come in the spring, when the refugees would normally return to their lands to sow crops for the next harvest. But Darfur may already have undergone a forced urbanization, changing the region's demography. That means that the way of life--and survival--for millions of pastoral people has changed forever. Now they must rely on the good will of others, for security as well as food (The Economist 2005, para. 7).

It is not surprising after reading that quote, that Sudan's economy is slow-moving and there is a low level GDP per capita of $2,100 (The World Factbook, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/su.html). According to classical economists, including Adam Smith, the best facilitator of the market is the "invisible hand" or market prices. Adam Smith concluded that people are best motivated by their own self interest, as written in his book The Wealth of Nations. Trading personal goods and services for other people's good and services in exchange. Having a market where prices are set by competition and are valued by what they are really worth to people is crucial. He also explains that when people are able to specialize in one area, they induce efficiency and improvement in society as they make innovations and their individual tasks easier to do.

Another crucial principle of economics is that people respond to incentives, as described in Gregory Mankiw's 3 rd Edition of Principles of Economics. This is one of the best ways to encourage economic growth and innovation in a society. People make decisions by comparing costs and benefits, so when the cost of a good increases, they respond by choosing a different alternative. Because many Sudanese people are living in refugee camps where they have little choices and rely on the good will of others for their survival, it is very difficult to appropriately allocate scarce resources and induce economic activity.

Sudanese refugee protesterMuch of the disruption in Sudan's Economic strength is due to the fact that through out their independence they have faced years of war, famine, and droughts due to poor weather conditions. Because the people of Sudan really haven't experienced a stable period of time of peace and unity, they haven't been able to progress and improve efficiently as a society and allowed these market forces to effectively take place in their country. This type of situation can't allow for large economic growth or stability in Sudan. So what can be done to allow for a stable environment for these forces to take effect?

One of the most important factors of a successful economy is the Rule of Law. If a government is not founded on principles of well-defined laws that are enforced, there is no incentive for individuals to excel in starting their own businesses or to work hard. There are many examples of market failures in economies where corrupt governments and rebel groups reduce the incentive for individuals to work hard and earn profits, by robbing businesses or illegitimately confiscating profits earned by civilians. This is clearly one of the negative factors of Sudan's despair, created by rebel groups, including the JANJAWEED group. In The Economist, 2005 issue, there is statement about the African Union claiming, "..there is photographic proof of the Sudanese government's Russian-designed military helicopters strafing villages in conjunction with JANJAWEED attacks" (The Economist, 2005, para. 9).

Although the Sudanese government is largely run on a sound governmental principles of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch, as defined in their social contract, the Sudanese government hasn't enforced laws effectively through out Northern and Southern Sudan. There is a lack of unity that has stemmed from years of religious, ethnic, and governmental differences. This type of disunity has sparked several rebel groups that have greatly disrupted Sudan's prosperity. In The Economist,2005 issue, it talks about how there is no enforcement to prevent those who want to rape, loot and kill in the region of Darfur, Sudan. This point leads us to a further question; how does one subdue the great animosity and violence stemming from these rebel groups?

It is clear that there is a combination of economic problems, as well as political. A statement in The Economist,2005, states that, "Much of the violence is sheer banditry, committed by those who have nothing left to live off in a desert region razed by nearly three years of fighting" (The Economist,2005, para. 9). Much of the answer to effectively controlling the rebels groups and encouraging peace and prosperity can found in the principles and ideas that have been previously laid out.

Jeffrey Sachs wrote an article in The Economist in 1996, cited in Gregory Mankiw's 3 rd Edition of ThePrinciples of Economics, suggesting how growth could be done in Africa. He talks about how Africa has looked to donor nations for guidance on growth from the International Monetary Fund, the World Banks, donors, and creditors. He makes a simple but true statement, but saying, "What a shame. So many good ideas, so few results." Usually economic growth is tremendous in poor countries, because they have a much larger opportunity to grow. He explains why Africa has experienced such a slow economic growth rate by stating that they have, "higher trade barriers; excessive tax rate; lower saving rates; and adverse structural conditions including an unusually high incidence of inaccessibility to the sea" (as cited in Mankiw's Principles of Economics, 2004).

Jeffrey Sachs quoted Adam Smith in his article found in The Economist, 1996 issue, for his solutions to the situation in Africa saying that "little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degrees of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and tolerable administrations justice." All these points that Adam Smith made in 1755 are very applicable to Sudan's situation today. These solutions are very important to bring about prosperity and peace. Many countries around the world have sought to assist Sudan in these ways, by providing help with money donations, food, military supplies, lifting trade barriers, and other forms of assistance. I aim to propose an even better plan to increase the success of Sudan.

Sudan has adopted much of the proven economic and governmental policies of successful countries in the world, but has still faces much turmoil. I believe that the missing link in Sudan is the lack of the presence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can think of no better solution to all the worlds' problems and particularly Sudan's than the influence of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe truth to be something that has been tested and proven true after many times of experimentation. It is easy to see that the times of most prosperity in the world have taken place when the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth. I can think of no better assistance than the help of an Omnipotent God to direct their paths and lead them to happiness and peace. It is no coincidence to see the effects the Restoration of the Gospel has had on the world, particularly those countries that have allowed religious barriers to be lifted and have allowed people to make a choice as to what religious beliefs they would like to participate in.

I believe it is no coincidence that the United States of America experienced a flowering of knowledge and prosperity since the heavens were opened in 1830, and the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. I am also not surprised that that when this gospel was carried into other countries, they experienced tremendous growth as well in knowledge, technology, productivity, and many other forms. I am also not surprised to see the correlation between countries that have set many restrictions of choice, particularly of religion, and have fallen behind the growth of the rest of the world. I also believe that when the influence of the Gospel is in a country the other things like the effectiveness of the Rule of Law falls into place, as people become better individuals and citizens of their country and seek to have the most righteous and just men lead their country.

I submit that the most important choice that the people of Sudan need to make is whether to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the best answer to heal the situation in Sudan and allow for the blessings of God to be poured out upon them. That is the best policy Sudan can enact; the blossoming of Sudan will follow.


Sachs, Jeffrey (1996) The Economist. Cited in N.G. Mankiws 3rd Edition, Principles of Economics(pp. 556-557). Australia: Thomson.

Economist. (2005, October 15). Darfur's Despair. The Economist. 377, 47-49.

Economist. (2005, August 6). The Death of John Garang. The Economist. 376, 37-38.