As Samir Gasim reels off the problems facing his Khartoum confectionery and packaging factories, already running well below capacity, the power cuts and generators kick in.
Now he fears the plants may close entirely due to a sudden, eightfold hike in industrial diesel prices imposed by a government desperately short of foreign currency and facing the biggest popular protests since President Omar al-Bashir came to power 30 years ago.
“We are in favor of eliminating subsidies, but gradually, over five years. Not overnight,” said Gasim, seated in his spartan factory office. “Otherwise it will be a disaster.”
Sudan’s worsening economic crisis has caused fuel, cash and bread shortages that in turn set off a wave of unrest that has surged across the country over the past two months.
The economic slide has also alienated the professional classes, who blame Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party for their troubles, according to businessmen, activists and academics. That has undermined Bashir’s authority and encouraged a protest movement that has persisted despite a security crackdown in which dozens have died.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has posted calls for protests on social media and organized strikes, draws in doctors, teachers and lawyers and others complaining of decades of economic mismanagement and isolation.