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Country Info: Niger

Economic Background

Niger is a landlocked, Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Agriculture contributes about 40% of GDP and provides livelihood for about 90% of the population. Niger also has sizable reserves of oil, and oil production, refining, and exports are expected to grow significantly between 2011 and 2016. Drought, desertification, and strong population growth have undercut the economy. Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union.

In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and concluded an agreement with the Fund on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Debt relief provided under the enhanced HIPC initiative significantly reduced Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction.

In December 2005, Niger received 100% multilateral debt relief from the IMF, which translated into the forgiveness of approximately US$86 million in debts to the IMF, excluding the remaining assistance under HIPC.

The economy was hurt when the international community cut off non-humanitarian aid in response to TANDJA's moves to extend his term as president. Nearly half of the government's budget is derived from foreign donor resources.

Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources.

The government, however, has made efforts to secure a new three-year extended credit facility with the IMF following the one that completed in 2011. Oil revenue to the government has fallen well short of its budgeted level. Strikes risk undermining political stability. Food security remains a problem in Niger and is exacerbated by refugees from Mali. (Source: World Factbook, 2013)

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