CEDEJ seminar: “How does the mobile phone affect access to low-scale business in Khartoum/Sudan?”

It is our pleasure to welcome Hisham Bilal – PhD Candidate at the Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University, and Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, University of Khartoum – for a presentation:

Labor to Self-Employment:  How does the mobile phone affect access to low-scale business in Khartoum/Sudan?“.

It will take place on Wednesday September 28 at 10h30 in CEDEJ premises.


Sudan is a least developed country and since its independence in 1956, is suffering structural distortions that were never correctly addressed. The political instability has contributed to Sudan’s economic situation and this was reinforced during the last period of military rule from 1989-2019. The poor economy, corruption, and high rates of poverty, in addition to the political resistance to the regime, have made employment not a favored choice for the youth and have pushed them to look for alternatives. The introduction of the mobile phone to Sudan in 1997 has effectively contributed to making a parallel path for these youth to work without being engaged with the official channels of the state/regime or supporting its military operations. Social traditions and norms also play a role in determining access to the business sector. This includes, but is not limited to, the restrictions the society put on women’s ability to work and have their businesses.

These factors affect access to business and how mobile phone is contributing is a challenge in defining the network society or applying this concept to the Sudanese case. The concept is formed about industrial economies and their transformations, while we look here into fragile socio-economic settings. Yet the impact of the self-employment trends and open market dynamics has contributed to shaping the relationship between the state and society enhancing the dynamics of the free market and eliminating the state control over the business and the economy in general.

A general hypothesis for this study is that the introduction of the mobile phone has contributed to the ability of people to integrate into the market economy and get a chance to pull away from state control.

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