Embassy of India
Brief on India - Niger Bilateral Relations
Bilateral relations between India and Niger are cordial. In the past, our bilateral cooperation was mainly limited to the multilateral fora. India had provided some economic assistance in areas of health and agriculture. Bilateral activities gained momentum after our Mission in Niamey was opened in May 2009.
India's trade with Niger stood at USD 80.48 million during 2015-16, with Indian exports to Niger being USD 80.16 million. The main items being exported from India to Niger included pharmaceuticals, cereals& other edible items, cotton, electrical machinery, plastic products & equipment, apparels and footwear. India imported mainly raw hidesand skins and lead articles. The table below shows the trade between India and Niger [in USD million] :
The source of data is Department of Commerce, Government of India.
Potential areas of our bilateral economic cooperation include infrastructure, transport, energy, mining, ICT, pharmaceuticals, health, tele-education and agriculture.
An LoC of USD 17 million was extended to Niger in July, 2005, under NEPAD for 'procurement of buses, trucks, tractors, flour mills and motor pumps etc.' Another LoC for USD 20 million was extended under TEAM 9 for 'power supply and electrification' in July 2008. Both these LoCs have been utilized.
Two LoCs have been extended in June, 2013, for electrification of 30 villages (now 50 villages) using photovoltaic system (USD 9.84 million) and setting up of a solar plant of 5 MW capacity (now 7 MW) (24.70 million). These are in the process of being put to implementation.
LoC of USD 25 million, approved in January 2014 for providing potable water to semi urban and rural areas in Niger, is under implementation.Another LoC of USD 30 million for solid waste management in Niamey has been approved in 2016.Yet another LoC of USD 72 million for social housing project is under active consideration.
India provided a relief package of basic medicines to Niger in September 2005 towards assistance for the humanitarian efforts for the food crisis. 100 computers and 100 printers, worth Rs.67 lakh were provided to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Niger in 2012. An assistance of US $ 1,00,000/- was given to Niger in August 2010 to help it tide over the food crisis. A cash grant of Euro 86452/- was also provided to help the Government of Niger towards purchase of two television cameras for the National Television of Niger for use at the investiture ceremony on April 7, 2011, for the newly elected President of the Republic of Niger. Besides, on September 30, 2015, ten laptops were donated to Radio Broadcasting and National TV of Niger.
A 16-member delegation including Minister of Plan, Territorial Management and Community Development, Minister of Mines and Industrial Development, Minister of Commerce and Promotion of Private Sector visited India in March, 2013 for 9th CII EXIM Bank India-Africa Conclave. In June 2013, the Minister of Water Resources and Environment of Niger visited New Delhi on the invitation of WAPCOS to sign MOU for PMC for “Potable Water Project”, an LOC project under consideration with GOI. In September 2013, Minister of Plan, Territorial Management and Community Development visited New Delhi for signing the LOC agreement with EXIM Bank of India for Solar electrification of 30 villages (US$ 9.84) and for setting up solar photo voltaic system of 5 megawatt (US $ 24.70 million).Mr. Alma Oumarou, Minister of Commerce and Promotion of Private Sector of Niger, visited India to participate in the 10th edition of CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership held in New Delhi from 9-11 March 2014. Mr. AmadouBoubacarCisse, Minister of Plan, Territorial Management and Community Development of Niger visited India from 13-14 March 2014 for signing the EXIM Bank’s Line of Credit (LOC) Agreement of USD 25 million for potable water for semi-urban and rural communities in Niger.Mr. Alma Oumarou, Minister of Commerce and Promotion of Private Sector of Niger, visited India to participate in the 4th Trade Ministers Meeting held in New Delhi on October 23, 2015 under the auspices of IAFS-III.
President IssoufouMahamadou visited India from October 27-30, 2015 with a high-powered delegation comprising six Ministers, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, to participate in IAFS-III held in New Delhi. The highlight of the President’s visit was his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 28 and Nigerien Foreign Minister (Mrs) Kane AichatouBoulama’smeeting with Smt. SushamaSwaraj, EAM, the same day. During these meetings many issues of mutual interest were discussed.
There are about 125 Indian nationals in Niger. Only a few stay with their families. They are mostly engaged in trading and hospitality business.
Niger is a unitary republic with President as Head of the State. President is directly elected by the people. President appoints Prime Minister. Prime Minister is the Head of the Government. Niger is a multi-party democracy with around 70 political parties. It has a National Assembly comprising 171 members. Prior to February 2016, the strength of the National Assembly was 113 members . The election to the National Assembly as well as the President is held every five years. In the elections held in February, 2016 for the National Assembly, the party positionemerged as follows:- PNDS: 75, MODEN-FA-Lumana: 25, MNSD: 19, MPR-Jamhuriya: 12, Others: 39.The first round of the Presidentialelection was held on February 21, 2016. Since no candidates got required more than 50% votes, the 2nd round of the Presidential elections was held on March 20, 2016. Incumbent PresidentIssoufouMahamadou won the 2nd round of elections with 92.49% votes, defeating his nearest rival Hama Amadou of Modena-Lumana. The 2nd round of the Presidential elections was though boycotted by the opposition alliance called COPA 2016 on allegations of rigging in the 1st round and their candidate, Hama Amadou, not being allowed a level playing field in the election (Hama Amadou fought election from prison). UN, AU, ECOWAS, USA, France, Russia, China, UK and most other countries, including India, accepted the result and congratulated President IssoufouMahamadouon his re-election. New President and the Government took oath in April, 2016.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and falls in the category of least developed countries. It is virtually the last country on human development index. It has one of the highest population growth rate and low literacy rate. Its GDP stood at USD 8.24 billion in 2014 and its total external debt at USD 1.7 billion. During the last five years, its economy grew at an average rate of around 6%.In 2015, inflation rate was below 1%. However, it continues to depend heavily on external support for its growth as well as budgetary requirements. 40% of its budget is contributed by donors. IMF, World Bank, EU, USA, France, Germany, Japan, China and even India are providing assistance and financingto Niger in its journey towards economic development. Growing expenditure on security and rapidly increasing population are worrisome challenges.
Niger is a peace loving and secular country. However, it is faced with quite a few security challenges. The activities of AQIM [Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb], Ansar-dine, MUJAO, Boko Haram and other Islamic militant groups continue to remain a cause of concern for Niger. In one of the incidents, that took place in 2011, some westerners, including French nationals, in Niger and in the region comprising Mali, Mauritania and Niger, were kidnapped and killed. Since then, activities of Boko Haram have intensified, resulting in loss of lives of not only civilians but also soldiers, apart from displacement of people. Niger has set up a multinational force in collaboration with Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Benin to fight Boko Haram.Besides, the Tuareg rebels in northern Niger have been resisting exploitation of mineral resources, particularly uranium, from that part of the country by foreign countries viz. France and China. In the aftermath of Libya crisis, there has been infiltration of Gaddafi supporter Libyan soldiers with huge weaponry into Niger. There has also been an exodus of Nigerien and other nationals from Libya to Niger, worsening the food security crisis in Niger. The President of Niger has raised Niger’s concern on the matter in international fora and sought support to cope with the problem. Shelter to Saadi Gaddafi by Niger further exacerbated its relations with Libya. But Saadi Gaddafi issue was resolved later. Even then, instability in Libya is source of concern for Niger.
After a coup in Mali, in March, 2012, Niger had been raising its concern at regional and international fora to prevent spill-over affects in Niger. Niger had also been demanding intervention for restoring territorial integrity and reinstatement of secular democratic government in Mali, fearing spread of Islamic fundamentalism by AQIM &Ansar-dine, and revival of the old threat to its own territorial integrity by Tuareg rebels in the northern Niger. Finally military intervention by ECOWAS countries, with international help was agreed to by the UNSC in December 2012 on the request of interim government of Mali to liberate northern Mali from the clutches of Tuaregs and international terrorist organizations. Niger being a neighbour with significant presence of Tuaregs in the country, has been playing an important role towards resolution of this problem, including military intervention in Mali led by ECOWAS. After France eventually launched an offensive against the Islamist rebels in Northern Mali in January, 2013, 675 Nigerientroopsjoined the International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA), which comprises total around 8000 troops from African countries. France has alsostationedsoldiers in the northern Niger to secure its uranium mines being operated by French Group Areva. Besides this, Unites States has been allowed a base in Niger for its drones. The terrorist attacksat the military base in Agadez&Arlit (ArevaUranimum plant site) and a daring escape attemptfrom central jail in Niamey, further worsened the security scenario in Niger. After end of war in Mali, elections have been held in July, 2013. Recently, on July 17, 2016, Nigerien leadership facilitated representatives of the Coordination of Azawad Movements and of the Platform of 14th June 2014 Movements to sign and understanding document for the restoration of peace and order in Kidal, Mali and in the northern part of Mali, in general.
Niger Embassy in Delhi
Niger opened its Embassy in New Delhi in November, 2011 and the first resident Ambassador of Niger to India assumed charge in January, 2012.