War and corruption

February 18 2018


I am a national of the Sudan. Let me tell you, the state of my country saddens everyone that knows of its history. We were a British colony, and when they left, we had the longest rail network in Africa. Sudan Airways was founded in 1946, one of the oldest in Africa. The Sudanese pound equalled about USD3 in 1958. We were the biggest country in Africa by land area. The blue and white nile rivers meet in Khartoum, the capital, and form the river Nile that goes north across Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean. And we have the Red Sea.

All that remains from the above now is the Nile and Red Sea - both geographical realities that would always remain no matter how bad we mess up. Our rail network and Sudan airways are now virtually non-existent. The Sudanese pound depreciated 1400% in the last 7 years alone. In fact, the original pound was replaced with dinar and then the current pound: The current pound is 1000 old pounds. And the current rate is USD1 = 38 pounds. So we went from 3 dollars to the pound, to 38,000 pounds to the dollar. This alone illustrates the magnitude of the decline in my country's fortunes. Why did all of this happen?

Two things. War and corruption. Diseases our people failed to win the battle against. With war, you're paying tremendous amounts of money to destroy and kill. So with every dollar you spend, you're actually losing 2 or more, and human life. Corruption isn’t only about the lost money, it is also about other highly selfish practices. For example cronyism. Jobs go to the children/friends/accomplices of the corrupt. In a country where there aren't enough jobs for even a half the workforce, the qualified will have to leave to make a living and fulfil their ambitions.

I am 29. I grew up and went to school in Sudan. But I do not reside in Sudan now. None of my childhood friends/classmates are in Sudan. But I visit. I was there in January, and inflation hit 127% last month. That's not year-over-year. That's monthly. Average monthly salary for a fresh grad is now sufficient to rent only a room in an average area. And that's the entire salary.

Every time a Sudanese citizen wishes to leave the country, they are required to obtain an exit visa. And we have to pay for it. Oh, and if you work overseas, they make you pay taxes in Sudan. So you'll be paying taxes in two countries. If you don't pay, you won't be allowed to leave if you ever visit home.

The business environment is not conductive. Authorities charge exorbitant and unrealistic level of taxes on businesses. Banks are also useless there. So with the difficult business environment, and even more difficult employment prospects, most young people look to leave the country for work. And some illegally travel to Europe and apply for asylum. They literally risk their lives to get to Europe. Tells you the difficulty in simply surviving in their own country.

All of the above, and much more, happens when you have a prolonged war and corruption.

If your loved ones and yourself are healthy, and anywhere in the world where there is no war, inflation is low and stable, your currency is stable, and you're not completely hopeless about the future, then know that there are at least 30+ million human beings who wish to be in your place.


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