Sudan Finance Ministry and MTN agree on electronic Samarat payments
Electronic payment services via the MTN mobile money service are to be provided to facilitate the implementation of Sudan’s internationally sponsored Samarat Family Support Programme, designed to reduce the impact of economic reforms on low-income families by providing financial aid and improving the social protection system and safety nets.
Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and MTN Sudan Communications have signed an agreement in Khartoum to provide electronic payment services by taking advantage of the existing service points of MTN distributors and agents deployed across Sudan.
This agreement with MTN is an extension of other agreements between the Ministry of Finance and other telecommunications companies such as Sudanese and Zain. The Ministry explained that the signing of the agreement aims to expand the services of financial transfer via mobile and planned to reach 80 per cent of the public.
The programme – Samarat, means ‘fruits’ – was launched last year to reduce the impact of economic reforms on low-income families by providing financial aid and improving the social protection system and safety nets.
The programme secured US$ 400 million in funding for the first phase; a US$200 grant from the World Bank and another US$200 from the Sudan Transition and Recovery Support Trust Fund (STARS). STARS is an umbrella coordination platform that includes Canada, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the State and Peacebuilding Fund, and the United Kingdom.
For the second phase of the programme, to scale up activities and reach as many people as possible, an additional US$420 million in funding has been made available. This includes another US$210 million World Bank grant and a US$210 million worth of donor contributions.
The first phase of the programme was officially launched on February 24, 2021, and approximately 11.3 million people are expected to benefit from this initial phase. Eventually, the aim is to reach 80 per cent of the population.
Last year it was estimated that 77 per cent of all Sudanese live in poverty, which means they can spend less than $1,25 a day.