Despite the economic challenges Sudan is facing due to lack of revenues, the Port-Sudan harbor in eastern Sudan still constitutes an important and major resource for Sudan's economy.
The Port-Sudan harbor acquires a great economic importance as it is the only port through which Sudan's oil products have been exported before separation of the south and it is still exporting South Sudan's oil.
"Sudan's annual exports through Port-Sudan ranges between 3.5 and 4 billion U.S. dollars, including over one billion dollars worth of agricultural exports, while the harbor's annual imports amount to about 7.5 billion dollars," Dr. Mohamed Al-Nayer, a Sudanese economic expert, told Xinhua on Saturday.
He added that South Sudan's oil, which has been exported through Bashair harbor, a sub port of the Port-Sudan harbor, used to achieve revenues not less than 2.5 billion dollars a year, including 1.5 represents the fees of the pipeline, the harbor and the processing unit, and another one billion dollars representing a compensation for Sudan for three years.
Al-Nayer further noted that the harbor's importance emanates from the fact that it is the only port for Sudan's exports and imports, saying "all Sudan's exports and imports pass through the Port-Sudan harbor."
The Sudanese economy has been suffering from difficulties as a result of the separation with South Sudan, which made the country lose three quarters of its oil wealth. Consequently, the deficit in Sudan's general budget reached 4.2 billion dollars which caused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to urge Sudan to adopt emergency measures to face the challenges.
Additionally, Sudan's inflation rate jumped to around 40 percent last October against around 28.6 percent last April.
"The work at the Port-Sudan harbor started in 1905 where the first ship docked at the harbor in 1906," Ahmed Mahjoub, Director of the Northern Harbor, told Xinhua.
"The harbor had been operating as an affiliate to the Sudan Railways Authority until 1974. The harbor then became an independent body which is the Sudanese Sea Ports Corporation with an independent board of directors," he added.
He noted that the harbor had come through different stages of development, saying "the first phase for developing Port-Sudan harbor was during 1980-1784 where the capacity of the port was increased from 3.5 million tons a year to 5.5 million tons, while in the second phase the capacity raised to 8.5 million tons."
He further stated that the third phase included the sea port via many projects, modernization of the delivery and shipment machinery and expansion of the capacity area.
The Sea Ports Corporation is exerting intensive efforts to upgrade the operational performance at the Port-Sudan harbor through modernization of the shipment and delivery means and provision of many cranes and equipment.
The corporation is also working to enhance the role of the Port- Sudan harbor in developing the Sudanese economy through focusing on developing the exports and establishing a specialized port for the fish and poultry exports and another for the mineral exports.
However, the corporation's efforts are still facing a major barrier represented in the harbor's dependency on working labor, particularly with regard to the delivery operations via around 30, 000 people working on the domain of shipment and delivery.
"We are working to develop and modernize the means of shipment and delivery through relaying on the machine, but we will not neglect our social role as thousands of families depend on their work at the harbor," Dr. Awad Al-Karim Hassan, Director of Projects Department at the Sudanese Sea Ports Corporation, told Xinhua.
"A balance must be created between the modernization process and the human labor. We are currently working to find alternatives for the harbor workers through training them to assimilate them in other posts together with creating alternative projects for them," he noted.