Region: Western Africa
Population: 13,272,679 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 1.267 million sq km
Currency: CFA franc (XOF)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $700 (2007 est.)
Niger became independent from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali Saibou was forced by public pressure to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic government in 1993. Political infighting brought the government to a standstill and in 1996 led to a coup by Col. Ibrahim Bare. In 1999 Bare was killed in a coup by military officers who promptly restored democratic rule and held elections that brought Mamadou Tandja to power in December of that year. Tandja was reelected in 2004. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal government services and insufficient funds to develop its resource base. The largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy is frequently disrupted by extended droughts common to the Sahel region of Africa. A predominately Tuareg ethnic group emerged in February 2007, the Nigerien Movement for Justice (MNJ), and attacked several military targets in Niger's northern region throughout 2007. Events have since evolved into a budding insurrection.
Economy – Overview:
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking near last on the United Nations Development Fund index of human development. It is a landlocked, Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Drought cycles, desertification, and a 2.9% population growth rate, have undercut the economy. 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. In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and concluded an agreement with the Fund on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Debt relief provided under the enhanced HIPC initiative significantly reduces Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction. In December 2005, Niger received 100% multilateral debt relief from the IMF, which translates into the forgiveness of approximately US $86 million in debts to the IMF, excluding the remaining assistance under HIPC. Nearly half of the government's budget is derived from foreign donor resources. Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources. Uranium prices have increased sharply in the last few years. A drought and locust infestation in 2005 led to food shortages for as many as 2.5 million Nigeriens.
Major Export Commodities: uranium ore, livestock, cowpeas, onions
Remittances: US $38 million (2006)
Human Development Index 2007/2008 ranking: 174 out of 177
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA in 2006 was US $235.19 million. Major development partners include the IDA, the African Development Fund, France, and the European Community.
Total External Debt: US $2.1 billion (2003 est.)
United Nations membership date: 20 September 1960
New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Niger to the United Nations
417 East 50th Street
New York, N.Y. 10022 USA
Telephone: 212-421-3260 / 3261 / 3286
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2007/2008.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated June 2008