Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Sudan: The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1955)

In January 1899, an Anglo-Egyptian agreement restored Egyptian rule in Sudan, but now as part of a condominium, or joint authority, exercised by Britain and Egypt. The khedive and the British Crown shared sovereignty. The Egyptian treasury had borne the greater part of the expense. In reality, the partnership between the two countries existed only on paper, as the British dominated the condominium.

A governor-general was to be nominated by the British government and appointed by the khedive of Egypt. The governor exercised his powers and directed the condominium government from Khartoum as if it were a colonial administration. After 1910, however, an executive council, whose approval was required for all legislation and budgetary matters, assisted the governor-general.

During the condominium period, economic development occurred only in the north. In the first two decades, the British extended telegraph and rail lines, but services did not reach remote areas.

Sudan Anglo-Egyptian
Flag map of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (Kingdom of Egypt) 1899-1956.png” by DrRandomFactor is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

On the Red Sea, Port Sudan opened in 1906 as the country’s principal outlet to the sea. In 1911, the Gezira Scheme was launched to provide high-quality cotton for Britain’s textile industry. An irrigation dam near Sennar was completed in 1925.

Planters shipped cotton abroad, as the Gezira Scheme made cotton the basis of its economy and turned the region into Sudan’s most densely populated area. Also, technical and primary schools were established, including the Gordon Memorial College, which opened in Khartoum in 1902.

In the south, the administration made no serious attempt at development. In 1922, a law of closed areas, the “Closed District Ordinances,” was enacted as part of a policy to isolate the South. This law prohibited or restricted the travel of northern Sudanese to the southern region, requiring pre-approval from British provincial governors, and imposed restrictions on trade with the south. But, the Juba Conference in 1947 recommended the South’s representation in the legislative assembly.

In 1924, Sir Lee Stack, the governor-general of Sudan, was assassinated in Cairo. Britain ordered all Egyptian troops, civil servants, and public employees to withdraw from Sudan.