Once an agriculturally rich country, Sudan experienced an oil boom through the early 2000s. American oil companies are not allowed to invest in Sudan because of international sanctions imposed after the Darfur conflict, so the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) plays a dominant role in oil and gas projects. Sixty percent of Sudanese oil exports, which account for 90 percent of the country’s revenue, go to China according to China Briefing.
The Chinese presence is not only seen in the oil industry but detected in other infrastructure projects such as the Merowe Dam, located about 220 miles north of the capital Khartoum. The $1.8 billion dam, situated on the Nile river and completed in 2009, has a capacity of 1,250 megawatts. The dam, which doubled Sudan’s electricity generation, is believed to have displaced about 50,000 people to arid terrains. The Merowe Dam is the largest hydropower project both in Sudan and Africa.