As a country in West Africa, Niger has an area of 1,267,000 km² for a population of about 20 million. It is limited to the North by Algeria and Libya, to the East by Chad, to the South by Benin and Nigeria and to the West by Mali and Burkina Faso.
Economic growth, estimated at 5.2% in 2017, was driven largely by the secondary sector, particularly oil, which increased activity when the Zinder (SORAZ) Corporation’s refining facilities reached full operating capacity. This corporation is jointly owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation (which holds a 60% stake) and the Nigerien government (which holds a 40% stake). Growth is projected to be 5.4% in 2018 and 5.2% in 2019, due to the performance of the oil and agricultural sectors. Agricultural performance is expected to rise as a result of good rainfall, as well of the 3N initiative, Nigeriens Feed Nigeriens, which promotes irrigation and livestock farming.
Petroleum exploration began in 1958 with the granting of Djado and Talak research permits to PREPA. After a suspension of research between 1965 and 1969, petroleum activities were resumed from 1970 on several blocks by companies such as GLOBAL ENERGY, CONOCO, ELF, TEXACO, HUNT Oil, ESSO, SUN Oil, TG World Energy, PETRONAS, SONATRACH and CNPC. Between 1960 and 2008, 42 exploration holes were drilled. Research activities became intensive from 2008 onwards following the signing of the Production Sharing Agreement between Niger and CNPC. Hydrocarbons potential of Niger is linked to two large basins covering 90 % of the national territory: -The Western basin (Iullemeden basin) and - The Eastern basin (Chad basin)
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Laws and Regulations
There are four types of licence available for companies and individuals interested in exploration and development of mineral resources. A Prospecting Authorisation gives the holder the right to search for one or a number of minerals. It is non-exclusive but confers to the holder the rights to first refusal to an exclusive exploration permit within the limits and time validity of the Authorisation.
Prospecting Authorisations are valid for one year, renewable indefinitely for one year periods. Surface and underground prospecting is permitted, as is the use of remote sensing techniques. The objective of the prospecting programme must be stated in the application, although there are no fee or land holding requirements.
An Exploration Permit is valid for three-years, renewable for two further three-year periods subject to certain land holding reduction criteria and field works. The area held under a permit cannot exceed 2,000 km² in a rectangular block.
An Exploration Permit confers to the holder the right to dispose of any minerals obtained during exploration and testwork, and also confers the right to a Mining Permit if a viable reserve is discovered. Applications must stipulate the minerals sought (additional minerals can be included later), and a time and expenditure schedule. A variable fee (CFA F 300.000) is tied to the permit, and holders are required to submit progress reports to the Government on their activities.
A Mining Permit will be granted in the case of successful exploration, subject to the right of the Government to participate in the project. A ’small mine’ permit is valid for five years, renewable 3 times for five-year periods, while a ‘large mine’ permit lasts for 20 years initially, renewable 2 times per period of 10 years. Further extensions are possible if commercial reserves remain.
Companies applying for Mining Permits must conform to Nigerien Company law. The Government requires an initial 10 % share in the mining project, free of all costs, which can be later increased to a maximum of 33 % through share purchases. Fees for mining permits are around $1,400 and $2,000 for small and large mining permits respectively.
The fourth type of licence is the Authorisation for Small-Scale Mining, and it concerns artisanal level of production.
The above data is subject to review by the Government at any time so it is worthwhile contacting the Niger Ministry of Mines to ascertain the true position at the time of applying as other routes may be on offer.
The government of Niger is focused on improving the long run performance of the education sector through launching several major reforms. The education sector in Niger faces several challenges that negatively affect the sector’s progress. Universal primary education coverage and completion is hindered by a high population growth rate, low enrollment rate, and high dropout rate. Access and completion is worse among vulnerable groups including girls in rural areas, children in nomadic areas, and children with disabilities. Niger’s education sector is also affected by frequent weather shocks. The education and training sector plan for 2014-2024 reaffirms the commitment of the government to making education and training a priority. The plan outlines a series of priorities, including: 1. Improve the quality of basic education by introducing mother tongue instruction in early grades, bettering pedagogical supervision, and increasing the supply of teaching and learning materials. 2. Continue the recruitment of state-paid contract teachers and decrease reliance on civil service teachers. 3. Establish a new recruitment and redeployment strategy to relocate teachers to rural areas. 4. Develop incentive programs to increase girls’ enrollment and retention. 5. Extend pre-school coverage through community structures and constructing classrooms, especially in rural areas. 6. Implement a school construction program to adequately meet population pressures. 7. Improve the learning environment through curricula revision, decreasing the pupil/teacher ratio, and producing contextualized materials. 8. Create an environment conducive to improving the relevance of higher education to create skilled human capital through various programs involving teacher development, strengthening scientific research, and expanding higher education offers. 9. Implement a literacy and non-formal education program to reach those who have never attended school or have dropped out.