Niger's economy in 2014 grew at a very respectable 7.1%, following 4.!% growth in 2013. This growth was driven mainly by agriculture, which enjoyed favourable weather, as well as by the construction, transport and communications sectors. With considerable new public and private investments, the country's future prospects are expected to remain just as buoyant.
OFTEN MISTAKEN FOR ITS southern neighbour, Nigeria, Niger is in many ways very different from the English-speaking country. Anchored in the middle of the Sahel region, it is the fourth largest country on the continent in terms of land mass. Niger gained independence from France in 1960 and today French is the official administrative language.
However, much of the population speaks Hausa and it has strong commercial ties with Northern Nigeria, as well as its French-speaking neighbours such as Mali and Burkina Faso. Niger has also become a key partner in the fight against terrorism in the region and has been lauded for the sound management of security issues within its borders and in the region geneally.
Following his re-election earlier this year, President Mahamadou Issoufou has made it his personal challenge to open up the country to investors and the international community. It is with this in mind for example that Niger put itself forward to host the 33rd African Union Heads of State summit in July 2019. It will be a challenging test for the country having to host over 5,000 participants as well as the dignitaries that attend these large-scale events.
The person overseeing the preparations of the Summit is Mohamed Saidil Moctar, the President's special advisor . As he told this magazine, the Summit provides an opportunity for the capital city to scale up in terms of infrastructure and hospitality: "We realise that we are under-equipped in infrastructure and facilities but hosting such an event will allow us to improve the country's diplomatic visibility regionally and internationally. Niger will be the centre of international attention for a couple of weeks."
The country is making a concerted effort to open itself up to foreign investors and to new partners globally, a message the President was keen to reiterate at an investment roadshow in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The country is ripe for investment across a number of sectors (solid minerals; oil and gas; agribusiness) and the administration knows that opening the country is the best way to...