Bakeries bountiful in birthplace of Sudan’s bread uprising

In December 2018, authorities raised the official price of a 70-gram loaf from one Sudanese pound to three, prompting a rush on bakeries and long queues for bread. (AFP)
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Updated 18 December 2019

Bakeries bountiful in birthplace of Sudan’s bread uprising

  • Bashir’s government had long subsidised fuel, bread and several other staples
  • But this was a heavy burden on public finances in a country hit by US sanctions and the loss of oil revenues since South Sudan gained its independence

ARBARA: A year since bread prices tripled overnight, sparking protests in the Sudanese town of Atbara, residents say bakeries are producing more loaves than the town can eat.
In was in the dusty streets of the central town on the banks of the River Nile that Sudanese demonstrators held their first rallies against the government’s decision.
The authorities quickly reversed the move, but it was too late.
The protests swept across the African nation and by April, they had toppled veteran autocrat Omar Al-Bashir, in power for three decades.
Four months later, after protracted talks with the country’s military rulers, protesters and activists won a deal to set up a transitional government and pave the way for civilian rule.
This week in Atbara, residents will celebrate the gains of their revolution.
“There are no problems concerning bread anymore,” said 45-year-old Magdy Mohammed Ahmed.
He blamed the crisis on “mismanagement during the previous regime.”
“Now every family can get the amount of bread they want and bakeries in town produce more than the citizens of the town need,” he said.
To mark the anniversary, the Alliance for Freedom and Change protest umbrella group will send a train from Khartoum, recalling those that carried thousands of protesters to the capital at key moments during the uprising.
Bashir’s government had long subsidised fuel, bread and several other staples.
But this was a heavy burden on public finances in a country hit by US sanctions and the loss of oil revenues since South Sudan gained its independence.
In December 2018, authorities raised the official price of a 70-gram loaf from one Sudanese pound to three, prompting a rush on bakeries and long queues for bread — sparking the rallies that marked the beginning of the end for Bashir.
Today in Atbara, bread is no longer a hot topic and there are no more queues outside the bakeries.
“Before the revolution we suffered a lot. Our revolution solved the (bread) problem for our town,” Noujd el-Shelali, a 35-year-old agricultural engineer.
“We are proud of this government. This is our government.”
Bread is so plentiful that to ensure that everyone gets their fill, residents have set up a citizens’ committee to distribute it.
“Now we monitor everything, the distribution of flour, the bakeries, the manufacturing of bread inside the bakeries and the selling of bread to the citizens,” said committee member Imad Abdel Hafez.
He said a member of the committee is present round the clock at bakeries to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Thanks to this system, said Heba Alaa Allah, “we said goodbye to the bread crisis in Atbara.”
But the young woman, wearing a traditional veil, said prices of other food items such as meat, fruit and vegetable are still too high.
Protest leader Said Ahmed Mokhtar said he hoped this would be resolved soon.
“The people are still suffering,” said the 60-year-old.
“But still there is a possibility to solve all these problems because we have the revolution.”


UK PM raises visas in pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

Updated 18 min 17 sec ago

UK PM raises visas in pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

  • Boris Johnson told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their investment partner of choice
  • Boris Johnson: By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties.

He also promised an end to direct UK state investment in thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, saying London would focus on supporting a switch to low-carbon energy sources.

Johnson was speaking at the start of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.

He told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their “investment partner of choice.”

After highlighting all that Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

“Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from,” he said.

“By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be.”

The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, was also in attendance where he met with leader from Malawi, Mozambique and Morocco.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This morning at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted by the UK Government, The Duke of Sussex met with leaders from Malawi, Mozambique and Morocco - touching on investment in renewable energy, jobs, tourism, and environmental issues. The Duke has been involved in various causes in Africa for over a decade, and has helped to initiate a number of key projects in the region surrounding conservation and tourism, the threat posed by landmines and the HIV/AIDS epedemic. During their recent visit to Southern Africa last September, The Duke and Duchess met with project teams working to encourage youth employment, entrepreneurship, education and health. Through their roles as President and Vice President of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, The Duke and Duchess have worked to support a growing network of young change-makers across the Commonwealth and will continue to do so, especially in the run up to CHOGM 2020. The Duke of Sussex’s love for Africa is well known - he first visited the continent at the age of thirteen and more than two decades later, the people, culture, wildlife and resilient communities continue to inspire and motivate him every day. Photo © PA

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who also attended the summit, said Brexit offered an opportunity for increased free trade across the Commonwealth — and said visas were a key issue.

“While many in the African diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community,” he wrote in an article for The Times on Monday.

“A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.”

Johnson, whose country hosts the next UN climate change summit in Glasgow later this year, also announced a shift in investment strategy to help combat global warming.

Sub-Saharan African faces a number of environmental challenges, particularly the effects of climate change, water and air pollution, desertification, deforestation and over-fishing.

On fossil fuels, Johnson said: “There’s no point in the UK reducing the amount of coal we burn, if we then trundle over to Africa and line our pockets by encouraging African states to use more of it, is there?“

“We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky. We all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warns.”

He added: “Not another penny of UK taxpayers money will be directly invested in digging up coal or burning it for electricity.

“Instead, we’re going to focus on supporting the transition to lower and zero carbon alternatives.”

The British government’s export agency reports providing £2 billion ($2.6 billion) in financing for UK company exports to Africa in the past two years. The agency says it now wants to “increase its risk appetite” in Egypt and the emerging economies in Nigeria and Rwanda.

The UK government said the London summit will see British and African firms announce commercial deals worth £6.5 billion.

It did not spell out whether these were all firm commitments or included memorandums of understanding that do not always result in actual deals.

Britain will leave the EU on January 31, although ties will remain the same for 11 months while the two sides thrash out a new trading relationship.

The UK has said it will be leaving the bloc’s single market and customs union.

Johnson wants the freedom to strike trade deals with other countries, even at the expense of some of its producers facing trade tariffs and quotas as a result.