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Foreign investment successes drive Sudan’s development

Article - October 24, 2015

International firms in Sudan have been central to development over the past decade. Oktay Ercan, whose Sur International Investment is a model of a successful business in Sudan, says he now expects many more to follow in his footsteps as the country continues to make it easier for foreign investors to set up shop


Having received more than $31 billion in foreign investment between 1999 and 2014, Sudan has undoubtedly benefited from the cash flows of a few international companies who believe in the country’s enormous potential. For most of these companies, this trust has had positive results, because while maintaining steady economic growth, Sudan has started to apply certain progressive reforms aimed at developing the environment for trade, such as an investment code implemented last year.  

With new trust and investment reaching the country as a result, enterprises in Sudan may now be starting to look at how more established companies have built their own success stories.

At the top of the list of successful foreign firms in Sudan is Turkey’s Sur International Investment Ltd. Primarily involved in textiles, the company – along with Turkish, Sudanese and Qatari partners – is active in the agriculture, automotive and financial sectors. Turkish business man Oktay Ercan, who is a company partner and General Director, came to Sudan in 2001, and founded the Sur Military and Civil Clothing factory with his investments.  With the financing power brought by a Qatari partner, the company has established an ever-expanding product range and achieved an annual fabric production capacity of 38 million meters – or 3.8 million uniforms and items of clothes – and is well on the way to becoming a brand in the global corporate textiles sector. In addition, the company plays an important role in the region by employing 6,300 people.

“I experience the pride of having founded the two fully integrated military, textile, industrial complexes in the world,” says General Director of Sur International Investment, Mr. Ercan. “After the closing of similar production facilities in the last 20 years, the opening of a new and modern factory brings a breath of fresh air to the clothing industry in Sudan. This is as important for us as it is for Sudan, because this sector relies entirely on man-power.”

Certainly, such investments contribute not only to Sur International Investment, but to Sudan’s industrial and socio-economic development. “If you look at countries which are developed from an industrial standpoint you will see that textiles is the industry which draws most attention,” says Mr. Ercan. “The textile industry is the best cure of unemployment, because not only does it require a significantly large work force, but it also supports other sectors by creating new job opportunities. It has the power to accelerate the food industry, service industries, the automobile industry and the health industry. It serves as a vital investment for the overall improvement in a country’s economy.”

The improvement of the Sudanese textile industry will boost the production of one of Sudan’s top export products; cotton. Twenty years ago, before Sudanese oil production took off, cotton was the country’s most important export. The lack of investment in the cotton industry contributed to Sudan’s dependency on textile imports, but Mr. Ercan believes change is in the air.

“As the textile industry improves, cotton production will also improve. Because cotton is the main raw material used by the textile industry, our aim is to decrease Sudan’s dependency on textile imports, while at the same time increasing cotton export rates.”

The business tycoon strongly emphasises the opportunities and the safety of Sudan and invites all investors to the country, especially in the areas of mining, and agriculture and other sectors.