- Hot metal industry -

The city of Giad gears up for new players in mineral processing and vehicle manufacturing

Driving force: Sudan Master Technology's companies include an assembly line in Giad, which rolls out medium and heavy trucksInaugurated by President Al-Bashir in October, Giad Industrial City symbolises the government's vision of Sudan's future. Situated about 20 miles north of the capital Khartoum, and just over a mile from the banks of the Blue Nile, the new city provides its residents with all the benefits of modern town planning - a hospital, schools, recreation areas and two different sources of electricity.

The city is the creation of a public-private finance initiative and several Korean companies have invested here. A bridge links Giad's residential complex of around 1,200 houses to an industrial zone comprising two main sectors; one for the metal industry and the other for vehicle manufacturing. President Al-Bashir stresses the importance of creating a strong industrial foundation, which will also boost Sudan's agriculture-based economy. There has already been rapid growth in food processing, medicine and light engineering. But more power will be needed for the expansion of heavy industries, mineral extraction, and the processing of metals.

The Koreans have invested around $6 million in a new training centre, which will enable the Sudanese to work in the fields of maintenance, computers, electronics and mechanical technologies as well as textiles. Industrial production inputs are to be exempted from fees and customs duties. In the industrial complex there are already several heavy-manufacturing plants, one of the largest of which is a steel factory and rolling mill. So far, $38 million has been invested in the 33,000 sq m plant, which has capacity of 150,000 tonnes a year.

A nearby copper plant, with three production lines, makes wire rods, billets and strips. The high-specification rods are primarily used for electrical cabling. A $9 million aluminium plant comprising furnaces, a continuous casting machine, and extrusion and paint lines, produces cables and window and door-frames for the building industry, as well as wire rods for cable production. Another factory, which cost around $9 million to build, produces electrical cables and wires at a capacity of 45,000 tonnes per year. In another part of the city, a large pipe-making plant boasts a capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year. Then there is the Giad Tractor factory, capable of rolling out 1,500 units a year, and the Giad Agricultural Implements plant which produces a wide range of harrows and ploughs. Although these plants employ hundreds, rather than thousands, of people, Giad's industrial firms are set to grow now that oil has been discovered in Sudan. There will be an increasing demand for all the products made in Giad, particularly those intended for use in the oil industry.

Within its group of companies, Sudan Master Technology (SMT) has an assembly line in Giad which rolls out medium and heavy trucks, as well as passenger coaches. Jamal Mohamed Hassanain, general manager of subsidiary SMT Engineering Company, says it was virtually impossible to get European funding for the Giad project. "But we have found that the Chinese and some Far Eastern companies are willing to cooperate and supply us with what we need," he says. Mr Hassanain points out that the products manufactured by Giad will be of a high quality, but adds: "We need to make a huge effort in order to reach the standards we need. Everybody working at Giad should feel that there is a big responsibility on their shoulders."

The Sudanese themselves will be the judges of what rolls off Giad's production and assembly lines. For the first time, they will be road-testing, in the toughest of environments, new vehicles built in their own country.