Niger’s achieved economic growth of 3.6% in 2015 compared to 7.0% in 2014 because of weather problems, the steady fall in world prices of uranium and oil and the Boko Haram rebels that affected the activities in Diffa area. However the economic performance is projected at 5% in 2016 and 5.5% in 2017.The activities of Boko Haram rebels continue to be a major economic, security, social and budgetary challenge. Agriculture contributes nearly 40% of GDP and provides livelihood for most of the population. Agriculture sector performance is projected to improve to 5.0% in 2016 and 5.5% in 2017.
Why invest in Niger?
Key industries include uranium mining, cement, bricks, textiles, food processing, chemicals and slaughterhouses. Niger’s main natural resources are uranium ore, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold and petroleum. The country’s agricultural production is focused on cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), rice, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, and poultry. Planned infrastructure projects in Niger include energy construction, energy diversification and manufacturing development.
Niger the drought prone country has gone through a series of coups and political instability following its independence from France in 1960. Polls to restore civilian rule were held in January 2011. The new government that took office in April 2011 is committed to improving governance, implementing reforms, and supporting national reconciliation.
The population of Niger was estimated at 18.5 million people in 2015, according to the latest census figures. Niger’s population is currently growing at a rate of nearly 4% per year. By 2050, Niger’s population is expected to be more 56 million people according to world population review.
16.2% of the population live urban and the urbanisation rate that average 4% a year is quite high.
Doing business in Niger
The highlights of World Bank score of doing business in Niger are summarised as follows;
|Topics||World Bank 2017 Rank||World Bank 2016 Rank||Change in Rank|
|Starting a Business||88||132||
|Dealing with Construction Permits||179||179|
|Protecting Minority Investors||145||157||12|
|Trading across Borders||132||148||16|
The government is the in process of creating conducive environment for doing business.
As a member of the African Financial Community (CFA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Niger has benefited from a foreign exchange system that is free from restrictions on payments and transfers. Foreign capital and domestic capital are legally equal.
The constitution entitles everyone a right to own property and provides that no one shall be deprived of property except for public purposes subject to prior and just compensation. Niger’s laws protect property and commercial rights, the administration of justice can be slow. The Investment Code provides for settlement of disputes and indemnification by arbitration or by recourse to the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Disputes on Investment. Niger is a member of OHADA, the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa since 1995. The OHADA Treaty aims to harmonize business laws in sixteen African countries by adopting common rules adapted to their economies, by setting up appropriate judicial procedures, and by encouraging arbitration for the settlement of contractual disputes. Niger is a party to the New York Convention on the Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards
Key development challenges
Niger’s economic challenges include food insecurity, a small industry sector, high population growth, a weak educational sector, and few prospects for work outside of subsistence farming and herding. Niger’s low literacy rate and weak education system limit the availability of skilled labour and service providers.
Niger is number 101 least corrupt nation out of 176 countries and scored 35 points out of 100 according to the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
There are security issues due to increased attacks by Boko Haram rebels. President Issoufou declared a state of emergency on 3 March 2017 in the Diffa region, in Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilare, Abala and Banibongou (Tillabéri region) and Tassara and Tillia (Tahoua region) because of a rise in the number of terrorist attacks.
Unemployment and skilled labour
Official unemployment rates are less than 3%.
Attitude to Foreign Direct Investment
Niger is eager to attract foreign investment and has made revisions to the investment code in order to make petroleum and mining exploration and production more attractive to foreign investors. In an effort to focus on investing in Nigerien natural resources, in July 2012, the government awarded nine oil production sharing contracts to five firms and signed an agreement with Chad to construct a 373 mile pipeline linking Niger to the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, which will facilitate export of Nigerien crude oil. In December 2012, the government signed agreements with several mining companies to prospect for gold and other precious metals in the Tillabery and Maradi regions. The Chamber of Commerce’s Guichet Unique provides a one-stop-shop that facilitates foreign investors interested in doing business in Niger.
Restrictions on Foreign investment
Total foreign ownership is permitted in most sectors except energy, mineral resources, and sectors restricted for national security purposes. Foreign ownership of land is permitted but requires authorization from the Ministry of Planning, Land Management and Community Development.
Intellectual Property (IP) Rights.
Niger ratified the revised Bangui Agreement (1999) on May 2002 that serves as the national framework for intellectual property rights. Niger is a member of the West African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which sets the legal framework for protecting intellectual property and approves requests for registration. As a signatory to the 1983 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Niger provides national protection under Nigerien patent and trademark laws to foreign businesses. Niger is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a signatory to the Universal Copyright Convention. Despite a legal regime that protects intellectual property rights, the government lacks the capacity and resources to enforce copyright violations. Legal structure is weak and enforcement is slow.
Uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, molybdenum, gypsum, salt and oil.
Investment Climate in Niger has been summarized to include the following
Sources of information