Niger is a relatively resource-poor desert country, measured by social and economic indicators, among the world’s least developed countries. With a small modern sector, agriculture is the dominant sector, especially in terms of employment. Cattle are the most important export commodity for uranium – which is still Niger’s main source of income, despite falling demand and prices. Failure in revenue from uranium exports from the mid-1980s was a major cause of the economic crisis, which in turn contributed to the political turmoil throughout much of the 1990s – when the government was unable to pay its employees for periods. The economic situation was further aggravated in the second half of the 1990s by sanctions and the suspension of assistance from several partners.
The modernization process initiated in the 1970s, based on large revenues from exports of uranium, stopped in the 1980s, after which there was no economic basis for continuing it, although there was a certain upswing from the late 1990s. the years. Then new economic reform programs were implemented, including a program for the privatization of state business. Niger’s economy is closely linked to neighboring Nigeria, not least through so-called informal connections – essentially smuggling, especially of petroleum(from Nigeria) and cattle (from Niger). A significant portion, an estimated 70%, of Niger’s economic activity is found in the informal sector, significantly related to illegal and unregistered trade with neighboring countries, especially Nigeria. The strong relations with Nigeria make the economic situation in Niger dependent on the political and economic situation in the neighboring country, which is the region’s great power.
Agriculture and fishing
Niger is essentially an agricultural country, although most of it is desert and semi-desert, and unsuitable for agriculture. The sector is of crucial importance for the countryside, and in 2003 employed close to 90% of the working population, accounting for approx. 40% of GNI.
About 20% of those employed in agriculture are nomads, who run extensive animal husbandry – cattle, sheep, goats and camels. Live cattle are the second most important export product, after uranium; much of the export is done illegally, mostly to Nigeria. The arable land is found essentially in a belt south of the country. Corn, millet, sorghum, rice and corn are grown. In addition, cassava, onions, vegetables, sugar cane and fruit are grown. Peanuts (peanuts) were an important export product for a long time, but production dropped from the mid-1960s. Cotton production is also of economic importance, but with varying crops.
An obstacle to agricultural development is a lack of input goods, especially credit and fertilizers, as well as access to markets. Agriculture has been severely affected by drought for several periods, sometimes by large numbers of grasshoppers eating crops. Both were the case in 2004, which contributed to food shortages and the humanitarian crisis in 2005.
Mining and energy
Due to the significant deposits of uranium, mining plays a significant role in Niger’s economy; the country was the world’s third largest uranium producer in the early 2000s. The extraction started at Arlit in 1971, reaching a peak in 1981, before demand fell through the 1980s – and with that revenue. Exports of uranium have accounted for up to approx. 80% of Nigerian currency earnings. Falling world prices have at times created problems for the country’s economy, and in 2003 Niger was indirectly accused of illegally exporting uranium to several countries. Iraq.
Alongside uranium, small amounts of tin and some phosphate are extracted. gold, coal, iron ore and plaster. Petroleum deposits have been detected in the southwest, and production is about 20,000 barrels per day, which is expected to grow in the coming years.
The production of electric power is essentially from heat power plants, but is not sufficient to meet demand, and Niger imports power from Nigeria, but its supply is often unstable. There is potential for the development of hydropower plants on the Niger River.
Niger has a poorly developed industrial sector, and the sector is hampered by several conditions, notably a small – and low – purchasing – local market, as well as transport distance from ports in neighboring countries, and competition from the far more industrialized neighbor Nigeria. The industry is mainly based on the processing of agricultural raw materials, and is of no great national economic importance.
With its strong dependence on revenue from uranium exports, Niger has been vulnerable to both demand and price. From the mid-1980s, revenues have fallen, and Niger’s dependence on foreign aid has increased accordingly.
According to Countryaah, main export products are uranium, cattle, hides and skins and textiles. Main import goods are food, machinery, petroleum products, vehicles, chemical products.
France and Nigeria are the largest trading partners; France and the EU are the largest aid providers.
Transport and Communications
Niger is a large country, and communication is essentially on the road, and to some extent on the Niger River. The country does not have railways. Connection to rail and on to the coast must be via Parkou (in Benin), Ouagadougou (in Burkina Faso) or Kano (in Nigeria). The road network is poorly developed, and in 2000 consisted of approx. 14,000 km of classified roads. The Niger River is navigable for a length of approx. 300 km. Development of the Cain Discovery in Nigeria (1969) improved the connection to the Delta ports on the Guinea coast. There are international airports in Niamey, Agadez and Zinder.