The 39th Session Khartoum International Fair

‘You Cannot Finish your Tour in One Day’

Press Writer on African Affairs
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Gathering my thoughts under a giant banyan tree after a wonderful day at the 39th Khartoum International Fair. I made great efforts to visit all the halls, pavilions, and roofed and outdoor exhibitions but couldn’t complete them. My tour includes seat time at traditional folklore cafes that are part of the fair, not just “Sudanese coffee with strong ginger”. The first day ended without writing a single word at all because it took more than two days to know what was going on here.

The Burri Exhibitions Complex, located on the west bank of the Blue Nile in East Khartoum, has a total area of ​​106 acres, roughly the size of the Vatican City and slightly smaller than the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The huge halls and pavilions occupy the most important part of the area. The complex is not the only zone owned and operated by Sudan Free Zones and Markets Corporation (SFZ) as there are Qarri Free Zone and Port Sudan Free Zone, in addition to that, the duty-free shops at Khartoum airport and the Diplomatic Market on Africa street.

Also, there is promising cooperation with neighboring countries on border markets; the agreement with South Sudan on the “Gouda Market” is at the final stages.

The folklore and heritage exhibition in Khartoum International Fair

Answering my question when Sudan will join the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)? Does SFZ have any possible contribution to that or it is the national responsibility of the entire government?

Dr. Al-Fatih Awad, SFZ Director-General said although it is a national responsibility, we in SFZ consider ourselves the laboratory for preparing the right recipe in this issue for the government to move forward and join AfCFTA. “We are the closest side in Sudan to AfCFTA”, SFZ Director, Dr. Al-Fateh Awad.

Dr. Al-Fateh, with his military background as a retired general, was so decisive on issues of free economy and integrating Sudan with the regional and international economies, especially the West and USA. He sees that security starts with stable economic ties with the world and Sudan’s neighbors.

Sudan’s government after the 2018 revolution was reluctant to adopt a market economy policy because of the Socialist and Marxist trends within the first “Activists’ cabinet” – as politicians described it – but the shakeups later changed the political map in Sudan again. This happened at the cost of the unity of the revolutionary forces and parties but the lesson learned was you cannot sacrifice the achievements and gains of the private sector in the former regime for political freedom which is exclusively favoring the left.

Leather Industry Symposium, 39th Khartoum International Fair, Organized by DIS

“The expo will reflect the real image of Sudan, a country with huge resources and opportunities and good investment atmosphere comparatively with the region”, said SFZ Director.

With this expo, SFZ has launched the realistic approach at a time of increasing demand for national comprehensive dialogue and new hopes after the decision taken by President of Sovereignty Council Abd Al-Fattah Al-Burhan in May 2022 to lift the state of emergency.

Many countries have participated in the expo through their companies, and there is a suite for the European Union with exhibitors from the companies of the participating countries, namely Italy, Hungary, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The total number of foreign countries that participated in the 39th session of the exhibition is nine countries, while the local and international companies are 300.

Gamar Factory, produces the first and only solar battery in Sudan with Indian technology

In the industries pavilion, there are several children and young inventors in an elegant and well-coordinated suite, in front of them there are devices and equipment of their own making, including a tiny cart that moves in the area and has “sensors” for objects so it does not collide with things, and sensors for gas leaking in the area around it.

In the group, I met eight years old “little Einstein” Amin Al-Khabeer as appeared to me from his flying hair, this group of young inventors is sponsored by the Authority of Scientific Creativity under the umbrella of the Defense Industries System (DIS) in cooperation with the Orientation Center, and there is a group of the inventors participated in Expo 2020 in the UAE.

The tour continues in the DIS pavilion and then stopped at a symposium on the development of the leather industry in Sudan. Young businessman Mujahid said with astonishing transparency that all his production is made in a six by four meters workshop but he is confident that he makes the best quality and he can produce 50 small leather products a day. The symposium turned into a brainstorming in which leather producers and owners of small and medium industries participated, it was an industrial parliament.

Although there are protests in front of the main gate of Burri Complex, the number of visitors is big. I think the competition between Sudanese companies is back now after a long time of the Covid-19 shutdown and also for political and security reasons. At the expo, a lot of goods are from the factory to the consumer directly with a 30% discount.

Part of the exhibition of Defence Industries System, 39th Khartoum International Fair

SFZ is planning for the 40 sessions of the Khartoum International Fair in January 2023, which in the future could be a bigger expo with more international and regional participation.

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