NIGER – ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
The new Government in Niger is actively seeking foreign private investment and consider it key to restoring economic growth and development. Together with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international financial institutions, the Government plans a concerted effort to revitalize the private sector.
Niger has attracted significant investment over the years, in uranium, the petroleum sector, cellular communications, and, most recently, in a dam and a cement factory.However,a poor legal system coupled with an inadequate physical infrastructure still continue to hamper a successful investment programme.
At present, there are seven major active Internet service providers operating in Niger–Sonitel, Afripa, Moov Niger, Orange Niger, ConnecteO, X.com, and Liptinfor. They are all fairly independent and they are not required to use the state-owned infrastructure. Sonitel no longer has a monopoly in the telecommunications sector.
Coloured gemstone potential is about to be assessed by Canadian Consolidated Pacific Bay Resources who have secured prospecting rights that covering 20 000 km2. Areas include the Air Massif region in the north, Liptako region in the west and the Damagaram-Mounio, Zinder and Maradi areas in the south.
Agriculture and Husbandry
Although Niger is one of the world’s top uranium exporters 80% of the population is employed in subsistence agriculture. The country has consistently ranked at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index, rising from the bottom of the index in 2009 to number 167 of 169 countries in 2010. Traditional subsistence farming, herding, small trading, seasonal migration, and informal markets dominate an economy that generates few formal sector jobs. Fourteen percent of Niger’s GDP is generated by livestock production–camels, goats, sheep, and cattle. Fifteen percent of Niger’s land is arable, found mainly along its southern border with Nigeria. Rainfall varies, and when insufficient, Niger has difficulty feeding its population and must rely on grain purchases and food aid to meet food requirements. Niger’s economic growth rates are closely linked to rainfall and fluctuate widely in connection with agricultural output.
Economic Growth and Exports
In 2010, the economy showed strong growth (8% growth rate in real GDP, up from -1.2% in the drought year of 2009).
In 2009, 64% of export earnings were from uranium, 20.5% were from livestock, and about 6% from other agriculture, most notably onions. Actual livestock exports far exceed official statistics, which often do not include large herds of animals that are simply walked across the border to markets in Nigeria. There is an export market for hides and skins, some are used for handicrafts.
Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union. The Treasury of the Government of France supplements the BCEAO’s international reserves in order to maintain a fixed rate of 656 CFA to the Euro. The CFA is freely convertible to Euro or dollars, but there are restrictions on the amount of CFA that can be converted. Amounts greater than CFA 800,000 (approximately U.S. $1,800 or Euro 1,200) require approval from the Ministry of Finance. (Travellers need only show a passport and a plane ticket to receive approval.)
Additional information on specific minerals and hydrocarbons can be found in the Mining Section
On 2 September 2010, CSRD President Djibo approved the draft constitution submitted by the NCC; on 1October President Djibo signed a decree calling for a constitutional referendum on 31October. The referendum passed with over 90% approval. Local elections were held on 11 January 2011 and the first-round of presidential elections (in conjunction with parliamentary elections) were held on 31 January. The second-round presidential elections pitted Mahamadou Issoufou of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) against Seini Oumarou of the MNSD. On 12 March Issoufou won the presidency with approx. 58% of the vote. Mr. Issoufou was inaugurated on 7 April 2011 and he appointed Brigi Rafini as Prime Minister.
Niger’s independent judicial system is composed of four higher courts–the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, the High Court of Justice, and the Constitutional Court. Back in January 2007 the National Assembly voted to divide the Supreme Court into three high courts–an Administrative Court, a Supreme Court of Justice, and an Audit Court.
The chief administrators in each of Niger’s eight regions (Governors) and 36 districts or departments (Prefects) are appointed by the Government of Niger and function primarily as the local agents of the central authorities.
Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic–Issoufou Mahamadou
Prime Minister–Brigi Rafini
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation–Bazoum Mohamed