One of the poorest countries in the world, Niger’s economy is highly dependant on international aid. The landlocked Sub-Saharan nation’s economy centers on subsistence crops, livestock and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. However, frequent droughts, desertification, inadequate funds and strong population growth have undercut the economy’s performance. Currently under military rule, Niger has several ethnic rebel groups. Enhanced debt relief received from the IMF in 2000, under the latter’s program for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), and further debt relief in 2005 enabled Niger to reduce its annual debt service obligations significantly. The debt relief program also enabled the African nation to spend on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure and other programs aimed at poverty reduction. The country’s future growth is highly dependant on its ability to exploit its extensive resource base of oil, gold, coal and other mineral resources.
Niger Economy: GDP and Problems
Niger’s economic growth varies depending on the level of rainfall and its impact on the agricultural output. The country’s economy recorded strong economic growth of 7.1% in 2005 due to the agricultural sector’s recovery from the poor harvests of 2004, when the country’s GDP had dropped by 0.6%. In 2006, the real GDP growth rate was 4.8%. In 2007, after a below average harvest, it was 3.1%, and with a very good harvest in 2008 it rose to 9.5%. The country’s real GDP growth rate again declined to 3.2% in 2009.
Niger’s government has taken several steps to improve the economy’s condition and is actively seeking foreign private investment and believes that it will lead to improved economic growth levels. Significant private investments have been attracted to the country’s uranium and telecommunications segments but poor legal and physical infrastructure has made it difficult for small firms to operate in these segments. Foreign aid represents nearly 8% of Niger’s GDP and over 40% of its government revenues.
Niger Economy: Key Statistics
Here are some key statistics relating to Niger’s economic position
GDP (real growth rate): 3.2% (2009 estimate)
Consumer Price inflation : 0.1% (2007 estimate)
Industrial Production growth rate: 5.1% (2003 estimate)
Debt: $2.1 billion (2003 estimate)
Natural Resources: Uranium, gold, oil, coal, iron, tin, and phosphates.