Saudi investments in the Sudan are poised to push past the $13bn mark within the next few months, Ahmed Shawur, the secretary general of Sudan’s Higher Council of Investment (HCI), told the Saudi-owned daily newspaper Alsharq Al-Awsat.

With close cultural ties to the Gulf, Sudan represents a ready market for GCC investors, and the country has quickly become a focus for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world as it seeks to secure itself against an estimated $40bn shortfall in food production.

Shawur noted that Saudi interests were responsible for some of the largest single investments into Sudan’s agricultural sector, pointing to Kenana Sugar Company (KSC) as a Sudanese company with significant Saudi backing, and Sulaiman Al-Rajhi and Saleh Kamel as two key investors.

The Khartoum Region is expected to capture 30% of all Saudi investments into the country, particularly as interest intensifies over the coming months in response to the cancellation of visa requirements for Saudi investors, and with a redoubled focus on agriculture, animal and food products, and the mining sector.

The HCI chief explained that his country had prepared the investment atmosphere by issuing new legislation in 2013 to revise its regulations, and Abul Ghadir, agricultural commissioner for the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), commended the removal of entry visas.

The drive to invest in Sudan is backed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, who has actively encouraged Saudis to invest abroad in the cultivation of five major products – namely wheat, barley, corn, beets, and soybeans – as well as animal fodder, for export back to the Kingdom.

Alongside Sudan, Ethiopia has also captured the attention of Saudi investors owing to its high soil fertility, the amenability of its climate towards the cultivation of a diverse range of crops, and the comparative abundance of its water supply as the source of the Blue Nile.

Ghadir also outlined the distribution of Saudi investments across Africa, confirming Sudan at the top of the list with a 20% share of the Kingdom’s investments, followed by Ethiopia and Egypt with a 10% share each, and other African countries with shares ranging between two and a half to three percent.