March 21, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Zain Sudan has been able to repatriate a portion of its operating profit abroad in 2012, a senior banking official told Sudan Tribune today.
The official who spoke on background said the telecom company, which is a unit of the Kuwait’s Zain, was able to move approximately $450 million outside of the country through Sudan’s central Bank.
“This is an important step that eliminated the problems regarding the lack of foreign currency available to foreign companies that invest in Sudan,” said the official.
Foreign firms operating in Sudan, particularly airlines and telecom companies, have been barred by the central bank for several years from repatriating profits abroad.
The policy was a result of the continued depreciation in the value of the Sudanese pound (SDG) relative to major currencies in recent years, particularly after the secession of the oil-rich South in July 2011.
Last June, the government devalued the official foreign exchange rate as part of measures to compensate for the loss of South Sudanese oil.
In late 2011 Sudan also raised sales taxes on telecoms companies by 10 percent to 30 percent and doubled profit tax to 30 percent.
Last month, a delegation from Zain Telecom’s board of directors met with Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to discuss issues facing its operations in the country.
Bashir reportedly promised to remove all impediments faced by Kuwaiti investors in Sudan.
Sudan is one of Zain’s key markets, accounting for 30 percent of the group’s $1.3 million subscribers and 20 percent of revenue in the nine-months up until to 30 September, the most recently available figures.
A senior official from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) told reporters in Khartoum recently that he would discuss the issue of repatriating profits with Sudanese officials.
“We are closely monitoring the process of repatriating profits abroad and we will work to remove barriers”, said Ibrahim Sano, the head of ITU’s communication development department.