This is the UK’s development finance institution’s first direct investment in Sudan, and it aims to help improve supplies of staple foods at a time of disrupted supply and rising costs.
British International Investment (BII), the UK government’s development finance institution, has announced a $50m investment to support wheat imports to Sudan, which faces food shortages and a humanitarian crisis.
The investment is to help the DAL Group, one of Sudan’s largest conglomerates, finance the purchase of 280,000 tonnes of wheat annually. This is intended to bring greater stability for flour supply to bakeries, retail outlets and businesses on which Sudanese people in urban areas depend for staple foods.
The funding is being channelled through Invictus Trading, a subsidiary of Invictus Investment, which has close ties to DAL Group and plays a major role in its import activities. BII did not provide further details of the investment’s terms or structure.
BII said the investment was its first direct investment – rather than via intermediaries and funds – in its 75-year history that will directly benefit the people of Sudan. It also said the investment reflected its aim of supporting locally owned African businesses contributing to economic development.
Richard Palmer, head of corporate debt at BII, described DAL Group has “a unique business working to improve the supply of staple foods to the people of Sudan as the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine continue to constrain economic growth and disrupt supply chains”.
Sudan’s reliance on imports for many of its basic food requirements has meant a country that was already among the world’s poorest has been hit hard by the recent rise in global prices. Poor economic conditions have also been exacerbated by floods and continuing political uncertainties. Long-time president Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019 amid a popular uprising. Following a military coup in October 2021. Sudanese political parties are now in talks to form a civilian government and hold fresh elections.
Giles Lever, British Ambassador to Sudan said the investment signalled the UK’s continuing commitment to the people of Sudan, and to the country’s socioeconomic stability.
BII was renamed BII from CDC Group in early 2022 – a name change which it said better reflected its role as an investor within the UK government’s development financing offering.
It has made a series of investments since then. In November, BII said it was leading a new equity round in fintech Kinara which aims to facilitate the provision of loans to small businesses in India via an app-based model. Other commitments announced in 2022 included a $200m joint investment in the African Forestry Impact Platform, alongside Norway’s Norfund and Finland’s Finnfund, and an investment with Norfund in African hydropower projects.