Cover Image
close this book Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province
close this folder 1. Introduction to Red Sea Province
View the document Physical Geography
View the document Precipitation
View the document Political organisation
View the document Infrastructure, economic activities, and employment
View the document Agriculture
View the document Pastoralism
View the document Drought-coping strategies
View the document Population and human geography
View the document Land Tenure
View the document Gender Relations in Beja society
View the document Overview of famine relief in Red Sea Province
View the document References
View the document Appendix 1.1.
View the document Appendix 1.2.

Infrastructure, economic activities, and employment

The transport infrastructure of Red Sea Province is weak but good compared to the rest of the Sudan with the exception of Khartoum Province. Port Sudan is the rail terminus for the whole of the Sudan. Rail lines snake across the province from Port Sudan to 'Atbara and then to Khartoum to the south and Egypt to the north. Another rail line runs from Haya, between Port Sudan and 'Atbara, to Kassala and then to Khartoum. All weather road linkages between Port Sudan and the rest of the country are good. Local infrastructure, with the exception of Port Sudan itself, Halaib town which is linked to Egypt by a tarmac road, and the rail and road links designed to service the central part of the Sudan, is poorly developed. Travel is difficult and sometimes impossible during the rainy season. Map 1.3 below presents the road and rail infrastructure of Red Sea Province in graphic form.

Markets in and around Red Sea Province provide goods, buyers for rurally-produced commodities, and employment. There are seven formal markets around Red Sea Province and four outside the province boundaries of importance. These markets are Port Sudan, Tokar, Sinkat, Haya, Derudeb, Gebeit, and Halaib in Red Sea Province and Kassala, 'Atbara, and Aswaan outside the province. Port Sudan is by far the largest market in the province and a variety of domestic and imported commodities can be found there. There are a variety of informal markets around the province. Most of these specialise in certain goods, for example the roadside market south of Delay station where artisanal goods made from duum palm leaves (sa'af) may be found and local sorghum. Another example of a common form of market found along the coast in small settlements such as Ashat Souk, Abu Ramad, or Shalatayn are the small shops selling goods brought into the Sudan outside the auspices of the government.

Most towns in Red Sea Province have secular single-sex primary schools. Gebeit, Haya, Port Sudan, and Sinkat have secular single-sex intermediate schools for boys and girls. Port Sudan has the only higher secondary schools; one for each sex and the Comboni School.

Religious schools (khalwas) are ubiquitous throughout the province. Teachers in Red Sea Province come from all over the Sudan. Teaching posts in the province are coveted because Red Sea Province is considered a hardship post. Two years teaching in Red Sea Province qualifies a teacher to be seconded to Oman where the pay is much better than in the Sudan (Cole 1988).

Barriers to the education of rural and many urban children exist in Red Sea Province. There are not enough schools around the province to satisfy demand, the language of instruction is Arabic rather than Tu Bedaawi, uniforms are required, and, with the exception of a few boarding schools and Tokar town school, no meals for children are provided. Any one of these hurdles alone would pose a difficult obstacle to the enrolment and successful completion of primary and secondary school; together they mean almost no rural children go to secular school. In addition to these barriers, the rural people have themselves placed obstacles in the way of secular education; they regard secular education as sinful. They prefer instead to send those of their male children whom they want to educate to religious schools (khalwa). With the exception of one khalwa near Gebeit, female children are not educated in religious schools.

Manufacturing is for the most part concentrated in Port Sudan where an oil refinery, tire factory, textile mill, flour mill, bottling plant, salt production plant, and motorised vehicle assembly plant are located. Shipping and activities related to the port are the principal economic activities carried on in Port Sudan. Most goods are shipped from Port Sudan to other parts of the country by lorry or train. Oil is transported by lorry and pipeline to Khartoum. Warehousing is a major activity in Port Sudan.

There is a large informal service sector in Port Sudan that provides goods and services to the Port Sudanese. The most notable of these services are the vast cattle feedlots located just north of Daym al-wuhda which provide milk and other livestock products for the city. Other services are the well-articulated system of water distribution, the many small shops, bakeries, coffee houses, and restaurants and the numerous fuel and rural products retailers scattered around the city. Post Sudan has a large quarter, Daym al-warsha (Workshop Quarter), dedicated to minor industry. Here such trades as vehicle repair, welding, blacksmithing, and other metal-using industries are practiced. Suakin, in decline since the bulk of trade, warehousing and shipping moved to Port Sudan in the early part of this century, has been the object of a recent renovation effort since the port in Port Sudan has become crowded.

There are three prisons in the province, two located in central Port Sudan and the other in Suakin, sixty kilometres to the south. There are four gold mines in the province, three in Halaib District and one in Haya District north of Musmar at Hasay. In Halaib District, there is an abandoned iron mine near Tumaala, an abandoned iron mine near Fudikwan, an abandoned chromium mine near Khor 'is, an abandoned manganese mine, and several abandoned emerald mines. There is an abandoned lead mine north of Haya town and an abandoned copper mine near Khor Arba'at in Rural Port Sudan District. These mines, with the exception of the emerald mines and the Fudikwan iron mine, were ordered closed when Numairy took power in 1969 and have never reopened. These mines are apparently still workable and the quality of the ore is reputed to be good For example, the iron content in the ore at the mine near Tumaala is 78 percent. There is a gypsum quarry in Derudeb District and Halaib at Ait, two salt evaporation plants outside of Port Sudan, a brickworks in Tokar, an agricultural scheme in the Tokar Delta that provides thousands of jobs, and a fishing industry along the Red Sea. Oyster beds exist along the coast and were once farmed near Dungunab near Muhammed Qul. The Japanese firm that was exploiting the oyster beds closed down because of a disease-related decrease in the oyster population. A cement factory is scheduled to be built in Derudeb in the near future.

The transport industry has a large service sector built around it that extends from the servicing of vehicles in Port Sudan and along the highway to Khartoum to providing food and shelter to the crews of the lorries and other motorists. This industry has grown considerably since the construction of a surfaced, all-weather road from Port Sudan to Khartoum in the early 1980s.

Employment for the people who live in the rural areas revolves around herding, farming, artisanal production of commodities, and migratory wage labour to the city, towns, or the Tokar, Gash or Khashm al-girba agricultural schemes. It must be stated that the majority of the people in Red Sea Province live in the towns (ERGO 1989) and move from town to country to farm, graze their livestock, or obtain charcoal, fuelwood, et cetera. A minority migrate seasonally to the Nile River. Artisanal industry predominates in rural Red Sea Province. In the south of the province where the duum palm grows a artisanal industry of mat, basket and rope making exists. Duum nuts as well as the fruit of Ziziphus spina-christi are sold in most southern and central markets as snacks and, in the case of the duum nut, as animal food as well. Duum trunks are transported by camels (increasingly by lorry) to bulking points along the Port Sudan to Khartoum highway for eventual sale for use in construction. The Duum palm trunks are prized because they are termite resistant. In the Khor Baraka and Khor Langeb basins where tamarisk grows, an industry based on forest products has developed in addition to mat, basket and rope making. Fuelwood and charcoal are produced as well as beds and poles suitable for constructing the typical Beja rural dwelling, a loaf-like tent made of duum palm mats supported by a framework of tamarisk poles. Small numbers of individuals manufacture charcoal and produce firewood throughout the province. Charcoal making is done on a commercial scale in the 'Udrus and Agwamt basins and in the more wooded areas of the Red Sea Hills within approximately 100 kilometres of urban demand. In northern Red Sea Province people collect and export medicinal plants (harijan) to Egypt.

A word must be said about smuggling. It is a very important industry in the province. The rural areas are crisscrossed with deeply incised smugglers' roads. Smuggled goods into Red Sea Province include consumer goods such as televisions, radios, household goods, and clothes, as well as vehicles, alcohol, drugs, and weapons. Goods smuggled out of Red Sea Province include livestock, cereals and cotton. The government is making courageous efforts to stem this loss of revenue.

Map 1.3 below presents the political districts, towns and transport infrastructure of Red Sea Province.


Map 1.3. Districts, towns and transport infrastructure, Red Sea Province.