August 10, 2008

Solutions for a Sustainable Sudan

On June 25, 2008, I attended a conference in Washington, DC titled "Darfur and its Impact on the Region," which was hosted by Manchester Trade, Ltd. and Executive Research Associates. This conference brought together Sudanese government officials from Khartoum and those serving at the embassy in the United States, academics, and representatives from non-governmental organizations, United States government agencies, and the private sector. As the title suggests, the mission of the conference was to outline the issues surrounding the Darfur conflict and conclude with a dialogue of viable solutions.

The first session, "What are the origins of the Darfur conflict," presented an ongoing display of finger pointing among the speakers and attendees. The rhetoric demonstrated the clear divisions among those who feel the other is to blame. Unfortunately, this was the common theme throughout the next two sessions "Is Darfur a 'Proxy-War'" and "Does the Darfur Crisis Threaten the Comprehensive Peace Agreement?"

The fourth and final session, "In Search of Solutions: Prospects for Peace and Economic Development in Darfur" allowed for the conference to conclude with a much needed dialogue on sustainable social and economic development as a solution to the Darfur conflict. The conference was well organized and Tony Carroll and Nel Marais did an excellent job as moderators. Here are a few thoughts on creating a stable Sudan, which will, hopefully, end the deaths of thousands of innocent lives and lay a foundation for a strong and sustainable future:
  1. Sudanese authorities need to have a vision--a vision that is transparent to its citizens and the outside world;
  2. Sudan's government must develop public infrastructure and donor agencies such as The World Bank and USAID should place conditions on funds pledged for development;
  3. Developing an educated and skilled labor force should be made an immediate priority;
  4. Sudanese living abroad should engage in Sudan's public infrastructure and private sector development;
  5. Sudan's governmental authorities, civil society, and representatives from the private sector should collaborate on creating a sustainable strategic plan with achievable benchmarks, defined deliverables and measurements for success;
  6. Sudan, in collaboration with developed nations, should promote privatization and trade liberalization, which will create comparative national advantages to promote and increase foreign direct investment;
  7. Create public/private partnerships in facilitating entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized enterprises; and
  8. Utilize technology to allow Sudan's private sector to compete not just regionally, but in a global economy.
I know this may sound overly idealistic, but we should immediately end the finger pointing and begin implementing small solutions to achieve a stable Sudan.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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