Article Summary

  • The trade of goods from Nigeria to Chad has increased due to the civil war in Sudan.
  • When the war broke out in Sudan about a month ago, the prices of goods and services rose by 70% in Chad.
  • Sudanese goods like sesame, groundnuts, hide, and skin, which were before now destined for Nigeria no longer reach because of the fighting.

The ongoing civil war in Sudan has disrupted the trade routes between Sudan, Libya, and Chad, forcing Chad to rely more on Nigeria for its imports of various goods. According to Al Jazeera News Network, some trucks that used to take a week to travel from Maiduguri in Nigeria to Chad now do it in 24 hours.

The conflict in Sudan started on 15 April 2023, when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, attacked government sites controlled by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The RSF and the SAF were former allies who ousted the dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, but failed to agree on a power-sharing deal with the civilian opposition. The fighting has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more, raising fears of a new civil war in Sudan.

Chad, which is known to share a border with Sudan, has been affected by the blockade of the trade routes which  brings goods from Sudan and Libya. As a result, the prices of goods and services in Chad have increased by 70% since the outbreak of the war.

In a bid to cope with the shortage of supplies, Chad has turned to Nigeria, its neighbor to the south-west, for its commodities needs. Nigeria’s exports to Chad include oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruits, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatics invertebrates, soaps, lubricants, waxes, candles, modeling pastes, coffee, tea, mate and spices.

Prewar Sudan/Chad trade

Sudan and Chad are neighboring countries in Africa that have a long history of trade and cooperation. Sudan exports a variety of goods to Chad, ranging from machinery and nuclear reactors to cereals and artificial flowers.

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Sudan exported $5.65 million worth of products to Chad in 2018. Some of the main exports were:

  1. Machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers: $1.32 million
  2. Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products: $1.18 million
  3. Cereals: $1.01 million
  4. Vehicles other than railway, tramway: $0.64 million
  5. Bird skin, feathers, artificial flowers, human hair: $0.54 million
  6. Pharmaceutical products: $0.37 million
  7. Salt, sulphur, earth, stone, plaster, lime and cement: $0.25 million
  8. Optical, photo, technical, and medical apparatus: $0.16 million
  9. Milling products, malt, starches, inlin, wheat gluten: $0.12 million
  10. Printed books, newspapers, paper and paperboard: $0.09 million

These exports reflect Sudan’s comparative advantage in agricultural and mineral resources, as well as its industrial capacity and technological development. Sudan and Chad have also signed several agreements to enhance their bilateral trade and economic cooperation, such as the establishment of a free trade zone and a joint border force.

War affecting Nigeria and Chad

The war in Sudan has outrightly disrupted trade and livelihoods across the region, especially for Nigeria and Chad. Many Sudanese products, such as sesame, groundnuts, hide and skin, that used to be exported to Nigeria are now scarce because of the war.

A trader named Mustapha has revealed that his income has dropped drastically and he can barely feed his family.

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database, Nigeria imported $6.77 million worth of raw hides, skins and leather from Sudan in 2021. The volume was similar in 2023 until the conflict started on April 15. Since then, the war has cut off supplies from Port Sudan through Darfur to eastern Chad.

Chad, which is landlocked and depends on Sudan for its commodities, has turned to Nigeria for alternative sources. However, the report warns that the potential for long-term trade expansion between Nigeria and Chad is hindered by the ongoing war in Sudan and the threat of Boko Haram terrorists. Hence, a secure route between Nigeria and Chad is vital for both countries as long as the war rages on.