Niger is a vast, landlocked country covering over one million square kilometers. With an estimated population in 2017 of 21.5 million, Niger has one of the highest population growth rates in the world (3.9% annually). It is prone to political instability, chronic food insecurity, and recurrent natural crises (droughts, floods, and locust infestations), and is heavily reliant on uranium exports.
The incumbent president, Mahamadou Issoufou, won the most recent presidential and legislative elections in March 2016. These elections were marked by very low voter turnout due to the boycott by supporters of the opponent, Hama Amadou, who conducted his campaign from behind bars.
Despite a stable political climate in 2017, the security situation in the Diffa regions has been volatile since the arrival of Boko Haram. Niger has also been plagued by jihadist attacks and drug trafficking in the Tillabéry and North Tahoua regions.
The Government has therefore extended the state of emergency in these regions, scaled up defense and security forces, and launched a new military operation.
In July 2017 in Bamako, the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) launched a 5,000-strong joint force, which will patrol with French troops from Operation Barkhane and MINUSMA to combat terrorism in the region. This operation, which is estimated to cost €423 million, will be partly financed by these five States with financial assistance from the European Union. Support has also been requested from European bilateral partners and the United States.
France has committed to providing €200 million in aid through AFD over the next five years to combat poverty in the Sahel countries.
GDP growth is projected to be 4.5% in 2017. Security threats at the borders with Mali, Libya, and Nigeria and persistently low commodity prices expose Niger to serious macroeconomic risks.
Despite showing a moderate risk of debt distress in 2014, Niger must continue to closely monitor its debt sustainability, owing to the rapid increase in external public debt from 27% to 35% of GDP between 2014 and 2016. This ratio is expected to climb to 37% in 2018, before declining as investment projects in the extractive industries are completed. The overall fiscal deficit improved and is forecast to be 7.5% in 2016.
The security crisis and low commodity prices are weakening Niger’s public finances. Preliminary estimates suggest that increased spending on security and the hosting of refugees as part of the military operation against Boko Haram at Niger’s southeast border could cost 1% of GDP on an annual basis, and reduce available resources to finance economic development investments.
In addition, increased dependence on extractive revenues could indeed make the budget more vulnerable to changes in commodity prices and production.
With a view to more effectively managing these risks, the World Bank Group will support the implementation of stabilization mechanisms and improved public investment management under the new development policy operation (DPO) series.
With a poverty rate of 44.1% and a per capita income of $420, Niger is one of the world’s poorest nations. In 2016, it ranked second to last (187th out of 188 countries) on the United Nations Human Development Index.
Niger is currently hosting over 300,000 refugees and displaced persons fleeing the crises rocking neighboring countries (Nigeria, Mali, and Libya). Refugee camps are concentrated in the southeastern region of Diffa and the northern and northwestern regions of Tahoua and Tillaberi, where a major humanitarian crisis is playing out. The Government of Niger has implemented a $40 million emergency plan and requested assistance from development partners to cope with immediate humanitarian needs.
The World Bank Group is finalizing an operation aimed at mitigating the impact of this humanitarian crisis, using uncommitted resources from its project portfolio with Niger.
Last Updated: Dec 05, 2017