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(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Including grants
- Seventh largest uranium producer globally in 2021
- Net exporter of gold and petroleum products
- Investment effort in agriculture and infrastructure
- Member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
- Financial support from multilateral creditors
- Economy vulnerable to climate shocks and commodity price fluctuations
- Economy still largely dependent on subsistence agriculture
- Rapid population growth, high poverty (lowest HDI in the world), chronic food crisis situation
- Poor tax and customs collection system
- Endemic corruption and large informal sector
- Porous borders favouring illegal immigration and trafficking (gold, oil, etc.)
- Difficult security situation and terrorist attacks
A recovery driven by agriculture, infrastructure and oil
Following a year of weak growth in 2021 due to the decline in agricultural activity (40% of GDP and 80% of the population) caused by low rainfall, Niger’s economy rebounded in 2022. It should remain strong in 2023, mainly thanks to the agricultural sector, if the weather conditions are favourable. Furthermore, Niger's growth will be supported by the ongoing construction of major infrastructure such as the Niger-Benin pipeline, built by the China National Petroleum Corporation, which will be commissioned in the second half of the year to increase oil production. Additionally, the construction of the Kandadji dam will continue until 2025. Growth in the oil sector, driven by global prices and export growth from the pipeline, is expected to reach 86% after 20.6% in 2022. Positive growth prospects in the agricultural sector will support household consumption, while growth in the oil sector will fuel private investment. The Central Bank of West African States is expected to maintain its primary objective of controlling inflation by hiking interest rates. Inflation risks will, however, remain a persistent danger to the agricultural sector due to possible increases in agricultural input prices.
Fiscal consolidation, a priority for the Nigerien government
The budget deficit should narrow in 2023 thanks to the fiscal consolidation supported by the IMF under the programme associated with the USD 276 million Extended Credit Facility agreed in December 2021 for three years with the Nigerien authorities. Revenues, including those associated with customs duties and oil production, but also in connection with the dematerialisation and digitalisation of their collection, should increase. The effort should be less on expenditure, given the persistence of social and security emergencies (20% of expenditure for defence). In this context, marked by persistently high food import costs and security concerns, the fiscal consolidation process is likely to be delayed. The deficit will continue to be financed mainly through concessional loans and grants from partner organisations and countries. Public debt, 70% of which is external debt, will remain high, notably because of payment arrears for the 2021 agricultural season. It should, however, stabilise in 2022, then decline slightly in 2023.
The current account deficit is also expected to narrow in 2023 after widening in 2022. The trade deficit should shrink owing to the increase in oil exports linked to the commissioning of the Niger-Benin pipeline, but also thanks to a timid recovery in gold and uranium sales on the back of favourable prices, despite stagnant production linked to insecurity and the depletion of uranium mines. On the import side, costs are expected to fall due to lower global food prices. The secondary income surplus will gradually fall as foreign aid declines, while the primary income deficit will remain in line with profit repatriation by foreign companies boosted by growth.
Political instability and growing insecurity
The ruling party (Parti nigérien pour la démocratie et le socialisme-Tarraya) and the president, Mohamed Bazoum, survived a coup attempt by junior military officers in March 2021, shortly after the December 2020 and February 2021 elections. The government is facing social discontent due to deteriorating socio-economic conditions, including high living costs - in a country where poverty and hunger are widespread, as well as growing insecurity. This insecurity is fuelled by terrorism, from the federation of terrorist groups (JNIM) close to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in the Great Sahara affiliated to Daech, or the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. Terrorist activities occur in particular in the western region of Tillabéri, close to Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as in Tahoua in the south. Attacks on local communities have displaced tens of thousands of civilians. This terrorist activity is related to the high level of social discontent linked to difficult social and economic conditions.
Faced with jihadist groups, Niger intends to revive the G5 Sahel, weakened by the defection of Mali and the political disorder in Burkina Faso, as reflected by the commitment of its president to the head of the military government of Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby, by increasing its operational capacity. The redeployment of the French military (Barkhane force) in Niger, after the forced departure from Mali, should make it possible to contain the advance of terrorist groups, thus reducing insecurity, despite feeding anti-French sentiment.
Last updated: December 2022