KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The Visit to Sudan on Thursday and Friday by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is a crowning of a series of visits to the country by German officials.
First came the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Heiko Maas who was the first European official to visit Sudan following the triumph of the December 2018 Revolution. Then that visit was followed by the visit of Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller in early February.
Both German ministers has expressed their admiration of Sudan’s peaceful revolution that dislodged a dictatorial rule that oppressed the people for 30 years and promised to support Sudan out of the critical conditions surrounding the transitional period. They urged the International Community, in particular European countries, to speed up their support to Sudan. Germany has coupled words with action when it lifted an economic ban on Sudan in place since 1989 and offered an immediate economic aid of 82 million Euros.
For their part Sudanese officials visited Berlin, including the visit by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during which he conferred with Chancellor Angela Merkel and attended the Munich Security Conference in February.
These Sudanese official visits were in keeping with the transitional government’s declared policy of opening up towards the rest of the World.
The German interest in Sudan is believed to stem from the special strategic, political and economic position of the country. For Europe, Sudan is a strategic bridge to Africa and the Arab World. Moreover, Sudan’s high economic potential is putting the country in the spotlight of all European countries, Germany in particular. Sudan also plays an outstanding role in the combat of human trafficking and terrorism.
History of the Sudanese-German Relation
The Sudan’s relations with Germany were primarily economic in nature, that in general materialized in the consolidation of Sudanese institutions that still continue to give fruit.
According to a dossier prepared by the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) on the occasion of the visit to the country by the German President:
1- The Sudan’s relations with Germany trace back to the 1950s when Germany took the initiative of recognizing Sudan as an independent country. Hence, Sudan established diplomatic representation in Bonn and when the two Germany’s were reunited the Sudanese Embassy was shifted to Berlin. Sudan in 1958 received economic and technical aid from Federal Germany including digging of the main canal of the Managil agricultural scheme in addition to some major canals in the Gezira Scheme in 1958.
2- Two Sudanese heads of state had visited Germany, Namely General Ibrahim Abood who visited Germany in 1962 and donated $2 million to mitigate the effects the flash and river floods that swept the streets of Hamburg at the time. Soon after Germany contributed to a lot of projects in Sudan. In 1978 General Ja’afar Nimeiry visited Germany.
3- General Abbood’s visit to Germany at the head of a high-level military delegation had materialized big agreements in the domains of defense, economy and culture:
Establishment of military factories in Sudan top of which, the Ammunition Plant that exists up to now in the Shajara suburb of Khartoum and other factories in the military field.
Many army officers were dispatched to Germany for training in different technical and military fields.
Arming the Sudanese Army with modern weapons to replace the old weapons inherited from the British occupation, for example the G3 rifle which gained good reputation among the Sudanese soldiers at that time, beside a number of military vehicles including the Magirus.
In the education field, scores of doctors, engineers and veterinaries were sent for postgraduate studies in Germany.
Establishment of Sinnar Power Station on Sinnar Dam by the Federal Republic of Germany which joined the National Electricity in 1962.
Establishment of the first sugar factory in Sudan, Al-Genid, Gezira State in 1962 and the Al-Qirba Sugar Factory, eastern Sudan, in 1964.
Establishment of Weaving factories in Medani, Port Sudan and Al-Haj Abdalla.
Establishment of vocational training centers in Khartoum, Medani, Obeid, Nyala, Port Sudan and other towns, managed by the German teachers first and then handed over to the Sudanese teachers.
Establishment of Sudan National TV in Omdurman in 1963 and training of its cadres, Gezira and Atbara TVs in 1970s.
Germany has established its Economic Cooperation agency to supervise the economic aid for the developing countries including Sudan.
4- During the 1960s-1970s Germany had presented over a billion marks to economic development projects in Sudan. These easy loans were then turned into grants.
5- German companies were involved in railroads and the Meroe Dam project. The German SPG had provided a 260 million euro funding for the gas processing project at Alfola oil field in the West of the country. The German Siemens has signed a contract to build the 500 megawatt Alfola power station.
6- In 1999 Germany decided to write off Sudan’s debts among 36 least developed countries.
7- The recent easing of international sanction on Sudan had prompted German companies to strongly return to Sudan in search of investment opportunities
8- The German exports and imports guarantees in 2018 announced the resumption of economic and commercial transactions with Sudan.
9- The German agency for technical assistance (GTZ), one of the most important organizations through which the German government extend assistances to a number of countries, has sponsored a number of primary health and vocational training centers, preservation of natural resources and agricultural development projects in the Sudan, refugees projects in eastern Sudan…etc.
10- In the field of roads Germany contributed in the construction of Port Sudan-Haya highway (the German leading Company STRABAB) during the 1970s and Neyala - Zalingi highway in Darfur.
11- A large number of German companies have worked and are still working in Sudan with great success. For example all the advanced machines used in the giant Sayga Company’s flour mills are made in Germany. These companies are also engaged in major Sudanese national projects such as the Sea Ports Corporation, the Khartoum Water Corporation and the General Electricity Company.
12- In peace field, the German efforts succeeded to bridge the gap in viewpoints between the then ruling party and the representatives of the armed movements in 2018, in Berlin.
13- In the cultural field, since 1981 Germany has been in charge of preserving the world cultural heritage in Sudan and has funded 34 projects until the year 2009 with a total value of approximately 500,000 Euros. In 2011, Germany also funded three projects in Naqaa, Umm Rouina and Al-Masawarat antiquities sites. These three projects are being implemented by German archaeologists. Also a number of German archaeological missions are working in Sudan, the most famous of which was the Egyptian and Sudanese Museum Mission in Berlin. The Berlin Museum mission Berlin has unearthed the Temple of Amun in the Naqaa region (Al-Musawarat), which is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the history of Sudan, along with other important archaeological discoveries in the Merowe region. The mission is also seeking to build a museum in the region.
14- The German language is currently being taught as a foreign language at the University of Khartoum, the Sudan University of Science and Technology and Al-Zaeem Al-Azhari University.
15- A number of German institutions is active in Sudan including the German Red Cross which has been working together with the Sudanese Red Crescent for 25 years and has a permanent office in Khartoum.
16- The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) gives priority to projects that limit immigration, given that Sudan is a transit country for migration to Europe.
17- GIZ, the German Society for International Cooperation, has been working in Sudan since 2014 to provide balanced sustainable development.
18- German PRISMA: The Government of Sudan and the German (PRISMA) have signed a framework agreement for construction of solar-energy plants, in addition to strengthening the electricity transmission networks and substations.
19- The Goethe-Institute is one of the most active foreign cultural centres in Khartoum. It engages in various activities such as teaching the German language and organizing workshops, exhibitions and various cultural events.
20- Friedrich-Ebert Foundation has been associated with work in Sudan since 1976. The Foundation is active in the fields of technical, labor and woman training and promotion of peace, democracy, human rights, socio-economic development and gender equality. It also facilitates access to university education and scientific research for gifted youth through the provision of scholarships.
21- In the political field the German concern with the peace support file in Sudan and the achievement of political stability reached the level of appointing a former German ambassador to Sudan as a special envoy for Sudan and the state of South Sudan.
Also, great efforts were made by organizing a large number of arts exhibitions including movie films and historical artifacts aimed at improving the image of Sudan and preparing a suitable ground for launching economic cooperation between the two countries.
22- Around 17,000 Sudanese are living in Germany, including those who went to Germany decades ago and some of them obtained German citizenship and have a considerable political activity and party affiliations. ,
23- Sudanese restaurants are spread in Germany, where there are 18 restaurants serving Sudanese food in Berlin alone. This may mark the beginning of the economic relationship between the two countries for new investment opportunities leading to more communication and opening wider fields of people’s diplomacy for the Sudanese community in the overlap with German society.
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