US eases sanctions on Sudan

US eases sanctions on Sudan
US Officials authorise export of personal communications hardware and software including smartphones and laptop to Sudan
2 min read
18 February, 2015
Sudan's sanctions covered smartphones. [AFP/Getty]

The United States eased restrictions on the export of personal communications devices to Sudan.

The measure, which took effect on Wednesday, will allow the export of an array of communications hardware and software, including smartphones and laptops.

US special envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth said that the aim was to help ordinary citizens "connect to the rest of the world." 

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Sudan have been strained for a number of years with Washington imposing economic and trade sanctions in 1997.

     This will help ordinary Sudanese citizens connect to the rest of the world

A campaign aiming to make people aware of the impacts of imposing such sanctions was launched by a group of Sudanese citizens in January 2014. "The Sudanese Initiative to Lift US Technology Sanctions from Sudan" created a video capturing stories of Sudanese educators, students, civil society members and technology professionals and their struggles seeking knowledge and information on the internet following the imposition US sanctions.

On its Facebook page, the US Embassy of Khartoum wrote, "This step comes after careful study and debate, including consultations with a wide range of Sudanese civil society organisations, in particular business groups such as the Sudanese Young Businessmen’s Association and the US-Sudan Business Council, and representatives of the people of Sudan in the form of religious leaders and local leaders. They made it clear that the Sudanese people were suffering from a lack of free flow of information."

The recent decision of the Sudanese government to stifle the press by seizing the full print run of 15 different newspapers also made it clear that the people of Sudan need more freedom to access information.

Sudan is still struggling with a raft of UN and bilateral sanctions, including from the United States.

Its ruling National Congress party last year chose President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court, as its candidate for the presidential vote.