Jakarta: Hidden from investors for decades, many obervers believe that Africa will become the next emerging market. Located in the center of Africa, Sudan offers various business opportunities for Indonesian investors.
Sudanese Ambassador to Indonesia Elsiddieg Abdulaziz Abdalla acknowledged that Indonesia is one of the largest economies in the world. The Sudanese diplomat urged Indonesia to increase its economic presence in Africa.
"Indonesia is a member of G20. Your economy is number eight in the world. That means Indonesia is supposed to be everywhere," Abdalla told journalists on Friday.
"Africa is still virgin. It is a big market. It is a source of raw materials," Abdalla said.
The Indonesian government hosted the first-ever Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) in the holiday island of Bali in April 2018. The event gathered hundreds of participants including 240 delegates from 46 African countries, international organizations and development partners.
Currently, Indonesia needs oil, cotton, and cocoa beans from Africa. On the other hand, Africa requires palm oil, motor vehicles, and instant noodles from Indonesia.
According to the government data, Indonesian exports to Africa reached US$ 4.86 billion in 2017. In the meantime, Indonesian imports from Africa reached US$3.97 in the same year.
"I am happy that we had the Indonesia-Africa Forum last year. I read in the newspaper that we will have more such forums this year," Abdalla said.
"I don't want to say that it is late. Better late than never," Abdalla said.
Opportunities in Sudan
Abdalla said that Sudan's energy, mining and agriculture sectors are very attractive for foreign investors. He underlined that economic sanctions against Sudan have been lifted by the United States.
"Pertamina already went there sometime before. But then the americans brought their sanctions. They asked all companies to leave sudan. But the sanctions have been lifted," Abdalla said.
Some Indonesian companies have realized that Sudan has many potentials. Salim group is currently negotiating with the Sudanese government to be able to invest in the country's agriculture industry.
"They want to grow wheat and maize there. They have many noodle factories in Africa. They are thinking to expand their noodle business. By the way the only noodle factory we have in Sudan is from Indonesia," Abdalla said.
Besides its large population, Sudan also shares borders with four landlocked countries. Meaning, Factories in Sudan can also produce goods for these four developing economies.
"Sudan has almost 55 million people. Chad has almost 20 million people. Central Africa has millions of people. South Sudan has 12 million people. Ethiopia has 108 million people. So this is a very big area," Abdalla said.
"If you go to Africa, you can see China everywhere. Why can Indonesia do the same?. I am very happy that President Joko Widodo said many times in his speeches that Indonesians should go to Africa," Abdalla said.