Sudan vs. South Sudan


SudanSouth Sudan
Economy - overview

Sudan has experienced protracted social conflict, civil war, and, in July 2011, the loss of three-quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan. The oil sector had driven much of Sudan's GDP growth since 1999. For nearly a decade, the economy boomed on the back of rising oil production, high oil prices, and significant inflows of foreign direct investment. Since the economic shock of South Sudan's secession, Sudan has struggled to stabilize its economy and make up for the loss of foreign exchange earnings. The interruption of oil production in South Sudan in 2012 for over a year and the consequent loss of oil transit fees further exacerbated the fragile state of Sudan’s economy. Ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and the Blue Nile states, lack of basic infrastructure in large areas, and reliance by much of the population on subsistence agriculture, keep close to half of the population at or below the poverty line.

Sudan was subject to comprehensive US sanctions, which were lifted in October 2017. Sudan is attempting to develop non-oil sources of revenues, such as gold mining and agriculture, while carrying out an austerity program to reduce expenditures. The world’s largest exporter of gum Arabic, Sudan produces 75-80% of the world’s total output. Agriculture continues to employ 80% of the work force.

Sudan introduced a new currency, still called the Sudanese pound, following South Sudan's secession, but the value of the currency has fallen since its introduction. Khartoum formally devalued the currency in June 2012, when it passed austerity measures that included gradually repealing fuel subsidies. Sudan also faces high inflation, which reached 47% on an annual basis in November 2012 but fell to about 35% per year in 2017.

Industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread, following several decades of civil war with Sudan. Continued fighting within the new nation is disrupting what remains of the economy. The vast majority of the population is dependent on subsistence agriculture and humanitarian assistance. Property rights are insecure and price signals are weak, because markets are not well-organized.

South Sudan has little infrastructure – about 10,000 kilometers of roads, but just 2% of them paved. Electricity is produced mostly by costly diesel generators, and indoor plumbing and potable water are scarce, so less than 2% of the population has access to electricity. About 90% of consumed goods, capital, and services are imported from neighboring countries – mainly Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Chinese investment plays a growing role in the infrastructure and energy sectors.

Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources. South Sudan holds one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa, with fertile soils and abundant water supplies. Currently the region supports 10-20 million head of cattle. At independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan's total oil output of nearly a half million barrels per day. The Government of South Sudan relies on oil for the vast majority of its budget revenues, although oil production has fallen sharply since independence. South Sudan is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world, with 98% of the government’s annual operating budget and 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) derived from oil. Oil is exported through a pipeline that runs to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The economy of South Sudan will remain linked to Sudan for some time, given the existing oil infrastructure. The outbreak of conflict in December 2013, combined with falling crude oil production and prices, meant that GDP fell significantly between 2014 and 2017. Since the second half of 2017 oil production has risen, and is currently about 130,000 barrels per day.

Poverty and food insecurity has risen due to displacement of people caused by the conflict. With famine spreading, 66% of the population in South Sudan is living on less than about $2 a day, up from 50.6% in 2009, according to the World Bank. About 80% of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture, forestry and fishing providing the livelihood for a majority of the households. Much of rural sector activity is focused on low-input, low-output subsistence agriculture.

South Sudan is burdened by considerable debt because of increased military spending and high levels of government corruption. Economic mismanagement is prevalent. Civil servants, including police and the military, are not paid on time, creating incentives to engage in looting and banditry. South Sudan has received more than $11 billion in foreign aid since 2005, largely from the US, the UK, and the EU. Inflation peaked at over 800% per year in October 2016 but dropped to 118% in 2017. The government has funded its expenditures by borrowing from the central bank and foreign sources, using forward sales of oil as collateral. The central bank’s decision to adopt a managed floating exchange rate regime in December 2015 triggered a 97% depreciation of the currency and spawned a growing black market.

Long-term challenges include rooting out public sector corruption, improving agricultural productivity, alleviating poverty and unemployment, improving fiscal transparency - particularly in regard to oil revenues, taming inflation, improving government revenues, and creating a rules-based business environment.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$177.4 billion (2017 est.)
$174.9 billion (2016 est.)
$169.8 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$20.01 billion (2017 est.)
$21.1 billion (2016 est.)
$24.52 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
1.4% (2017 est.)
3% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)
-5.2% (2017 est.)
-13.9% (2016 est.)
-0.2% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$4,300 (2017 est.)
$4,400 (2016 est.)
$4,400 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$1,600 (2017 est.)
$1,700 (2016 est.)
$2,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Population below poverty line
46.5% (2009 est.)
66% (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
32.4% (2017 est.)
17.8% (2016 est.)
187.9% (2017 est.)
379.8% (2016 est.)
revenues: 8.48 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 13.36 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 259.6 million (FY2017/18 est.)
expenditures: 298.6 million (FY2017/18 est.)
Agriculture - products
cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum Arabic, sugarcane, cassava (manioc, tapioca), mangoes, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds; animal feed, sheep and other livestock
sorghum, maize, rice, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, mangoes, papayas, bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, cotton, sesame seeds, cassava (manioc, tapioca), beans, peanuts; cattle, sheep
$4.1 billion (2017 est.)
$3.094 billion (2016 est.)
$1.13 billion (2016 est.)
$8.22 billion (2017 est.)
$7.48 billion (2016 est.)
$3.795 billion (2016 est.)
$3.795 billion (2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Sudanese pounds (SDG) per US dollar -
6.72 (2017 est.)
6.14 (2016 est.)
6.14 (2015 est.)
6.03 (2014 est.)
5.74 (2013 est.)
South Sudanese pounds (SSP) per US dollar -
0.885 (2017 est.)
0.903 (2016 est.)
0.9214 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
Public debt
121.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
99.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
62.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
86.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$198 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$168.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$73 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$4.811 billion (2017 est.)
-$4.213 billion (2016 est.)
-$154 million (2017 est.)
$39 million (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$45.82 billion (2017 est.)
$3.06 billion (2017 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
13% (31 December 2017 est.)
12.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
13.38% (December 2017)
9.72% (December 2016)
Stock of narrow money
$18.82 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$491.9 million (31 December 2017)
$409.1 million (31 December 2016)
Stock of broad money
$18.82 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$550.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$494.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
18.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
8.5% (of GDP) (FY2017/18 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-10.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-1.3% (of GDP) (FY2017/18 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 20%
male: 16%
female: 32% (2009 est.)
total: 38.6%
male: 39.5%
female: 37.4% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 77.3% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 5.8% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 18.4% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.6% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 9.7% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -11.8% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 34.9% (2011 est.)
government consumption: 17.1% (2011 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 10.4% (2011 est.)
exports of goods and services: 64.9% (2011 est.)
imports of goods and services: -27.2% (2011 est.)
Gross national saving
12.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
12.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
3.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
18.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
7.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook