Acute cash shortage hits Central Darfur

A severe shortage of cash has hit Zalingei, the capital of Sudan’s Central Darfur State, forcing residents to resort to mobile money transactions.

A severe shortage of cash has hit Zalingei, the capital of Sudan’s Central Darfur State, forcing residents to resort to mobile money transactions.

Besides the mobile money applications, such as the Bankak App, some residents have decided to hoard their money, leading to a significant deficit of cash in circulation.

A banker, Omar Sakin, told Radio Tamazuj that rising public fears and uncertainty fueled by rumors about cash scarcity led individuals to hoard cash.

Sakin also attributed the cash shortage to the robust commercial activities with neighboring Chad. He said traders in the region import essential goods from Chad without a corresponding export movement, causing cash to accumulate in border areas.

“Furthermore, instances of fraud and deception in digital transactions have driven traders to prefer cash dealings to avoid digital payment scams,” Skin stated.

A resident, Mujahid Ahmed, also attributed the scarcity of cash to the booming cross-border trade with Chad.

“The current cash crisis is due to the thriving trade on the western border with Chad, he explained. “Traders take cash to the Adre area in Chad, where cash is preferred to purchase goods over bank transfers, especially after fraud and scam cases involving mobile money transactions surfaced.”

Ahmed revealed that the cash scarcity crisis has placed residents in a difficult position, as they cannot access their bank-held funds due to the cash scarcity. Additionally, the involvement of black-market brokers, who charge a commission for cash exchanges, has worsened the citizens’ plight because the brokers often impose a fee of up to 15 percent on the total amount exchanged.

“Overall, the situation is dire,” he added. “The commission for exchanging cash for digital funds has risen to 10 percent, and purchasing goods through the Bankak mobile money app also incurs high fees.”

Samir Abdulkarim who works in the money transfer business described the cash crisis as a “nightmare” for citizens.

He said most residents rely on foreign remittances from relatives abroad or salaries from outside the state and that the security and economic situation is extremely challenging.

“They [people] are waiting for transfers or salaries, which require cash to be withdrawn, a task that has become nearly impossible under the current circumstances,” Abdulkarim said.

In response, the Central Bank of Sudan has announced new regulations regarding daily cash withdrawals from government and commercial banks. The new guidelines mandate banks to limit daily cash withdrawals to three million Sudanese Pounds and reduce the ATM daily withdrawal limit to 50 pounds.

Conversely, the central bank’s directive also increased the transfer limit via mobile applications to fifteen million pounds to reduce the volume of cash transactions outside the banking system.