Niger, a former French colony, is the largest country in Western Africa and completely landlocked. Over 80% of its land mass lies in the Sahara Desert, and much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The majority of Niger’s 21 million strong population
live in clusters in the far south and west of the country, and engage in subsistence farming. Niger faces serious challenges to its development: the country lacks infrastructure, and has only limited access to education and healthcare. It has also become a breeding ground for extremists, organised crime and human traffickers. Here, we take a look at why, and how the rest of the world is reacting.
Niger is home to the world’s largest uranium deposits and mining is the main source of national exports. Uranium is mined by French company AREVA, and licences have been sold to other companies from companies such as India, China, Canada and Australia to exploit new deposits of gold, phosphates, coal,
iron, limestone and gypsum. In addition, oil and gas has been discovered in Niger, attracting much attention since 1970 from companies such as Elf, Esso and Petronas. However, in 2008, block rights were wholly transferred to CNPC and in 2011, Niger produced its first barrels of oil.
Despite the mineral and hydrocarbon resources, the majority of the population lives in poverty and survives on subsistence farming. Donor support is extremely important for Niger, and it comprises a substantial part of the government budget. The most important donors in Niger are France, the European Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and various United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, World Food Program, and United Nations Population Fund). Other principal donors include the United States, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. The focus of much of this donor support has shifted from fighting poverty exacerbated by climate change and a rising population to combating extremism, in the form of ISIS, Al Qaeda- and Boko Haram-affiliated groups.
In response to the deteriorating security situation across the Sahel region, in 2017 Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad came together to form the G5 Sahel Force to combat terrorism, organised cross-border crime and human trafficking. The G5 Sahel Force has been championed by France, and supported by the EU and other donors including Norway, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the US. Niger’s capital, Niamey, is home to the G5 Sahel Force’s Command Post for the Centre Zone and is strategically important because it hosts drones in charge of gathering intelligence across the whole Sahel-Saharan region. Niger also hosts French and US troops at Niamey air base, and in Agadez the US military is investing around $100m in a military air base with a drone centre.
Contact your local Coyne representative for information on how we can assist with your cargo to Niger.