Sudan's Economy Before Discovery of Oil
Farming was a mainstay of Sudan's economy before oil exports started at the end of the 1990s.
At independence in 1956, the gross domestic product (GDP) was dominated by agriculture, with virtually no industrial sector to speak of.
Sudan's GDP composition, 1955/56
|Sector||GDP share (%)|
The economy transformed over the coming decades, with the sectoral share of agriculture declining as the service sector gained prominence.
Structural transformation in Sudan
|Period||Agriculture share (%)||Industry share (%)||Services share (%)|
Still, in the early 1990s, agriculture and livestock raising were the main sources of livelihood in Sudan for about 61 percent of the working population, with livestock providing all or a large part of the livelihood of more than 40 percent of the country's population in the 1980s, according to the United States Library of Congress. Agriculture employed some 80% of the population in 1988. Agricultural products regularly accounted for about 95 percent of the country's exports, and total activity in the agriculture sector contributed an estimated 40 percent of gross national product (GDP) in the early 1970s. Industry, which was mostly agriculturally-based, accounted for 15 percent of GDP in 1988.
Sudan became an oil exporter in 1999; by 2001, agricultural products accounted for just 19.2% of exports, and the country had an agricultural trade deficit of US $24.5 million. By 2012, after South Sudan seceded from Sudan and before it shut down oil production in January 2012, the South Sudanese government was heavily dependent on oil revenues, which accounted for about 98% of its income.
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- "South Sudan refuses to be held to ransom by the north, The Guardian, 17 May 2012.