Living and Working
As foreign investment capital has flooded into Sudan, opportunities for living and working in the country have sky-rocketed.
Voluntary and non-governmental organisations have permeated the country. There has also been a growing influx of international corporations, particularly in the oil and telecoms sectors. This has all had a knock-on effect for other areas of the economy; Khartoum’s hospitality sector has really started to pick up and tourism in the country is developing fast. As a result, there is a pressing need for workers who can speak English, fuelling a demand for English teachers in the country.
Before signing up to work in North Sudan, you should spend some time familiarising yourself with the country’s labour law. This is also a good idea if you are going to be running a business in the country and will need to recruit local staff. The most important points are given below:
- Male Sudanese must prove that they have completed National Service (duration: 12 months) or else show that they are exempt from this. Foreigners, Sudanese with dual nationality and people above a certain age are exempted from National Service.
- Sudanese are not given their university certificates or diplomas until after they have completed national service.
- Women are entitled to claim one day off work on the first day of their period each month.
- Many workers now enjoy two-day weekends (Friday and Saturday). However, this is still at the discretion of the company and many continue to give their employees just one day off a week (Friday).
- Normal working hours are 48 hours a week. Workers are entitled to a minimum of a half-hour paid break each day (one hour for women and children).
- During Ramadan, the working week is reduced by one hour a day.
- Women are not generally allowed to work between 10 pm and 6 am (apart from in certain professional, administrative and social-care jobs).
- Overtime must be agreed by both parties, and cannot exceed four hours a day or 12 hours a week.
- Workers are entitled to annual leave of 20 days once they have worked one full year at a company. After eight years, this goes up to 25 days. After 15 years, holiday entitlement is 30 days. Workers are also entitled to all official holidays in the country. Holidays are taken on full pay.
- Women are entitled to paid maternity leave (four weeks before expected delivery and four weeks afterwards), provided that they have worked at the company for at least one year.
- Sick leave is paid according to length of service (either on full-pay, half-pay, or quarter-pay). However, you cannot take sick leave until you have exhausted all of your annual leave.
- A woman who has just lost her husband is entitled to four months and 10 days of bereavement leave.
- The notice period for termination of an employee’s contract depends on how long the individual has worked at the company. If he or she has worked there for more than five years, the notice period is one month. Otherwise, the notice period is the same as the frequency with which the worker gets paid: one month, two weeks or one week.
Opening a business
In recent years, investment opportunities have really taken off in Sudan. Foreigners who wish to open a company in the North should find the process relatively straightforward, although local taxes can be a little off-putting.
Although foreigners do not need to have a local partner in order to open a business in North Sudan, many choose to do so for local support. It can be great to have someone who can help navigate the mesh of rules and regulations in the country, especially if they also have an understanding of local market conditions. Trading with a local partner, rather than on your own, may also help you to get favourable tax treatment.
There are some restrictions to the companies that can invest in North Sudan. Under Sudanese law, international companies that trade with Israel are prohibited from establishing themselves in the country.
The steps involved in registering a business in North Sudan depend upon whether you are just planning on trading with the country or whether you will be setting up a more permanent initiative.
Government policy is very much geared towards promoting sustainable investment in the country. Therefore, if you are simply a trading company, you are likely to be hit by very high taxes. If you are establishing a more permanent base — ideally employing local staff — then your application will be treated more favourably and taxes will almost certainly be lower.
Companies investing in Sudan must first register with the Company Registrar. If the company is a subsidiary of an international corporation, the relevant documents of the parent company must also be provided. Company registration is not expensive, although it can be a good idea to consult with a local lawyer.
Companies must also provide two copies of a visibility study, detailing what their involvement will be in the country. One must be sent to the Ministry of Investment and the other to the Ministry of Industry.
The Ministry of Investment favours strategic companies over non-strategic ones. Strategic businesses are those that seek to provide a product or service not already available locally. Such companies can set up with greater ease and enjoy various tax concessions. Non-strategic companies provide products or services that already exist and get less tax breaks.
Trading companies have slightly different procedures, and are generally subject to high levels of tax and custom duties. They must register with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Commerce.