France and Niger historically have strong relations. France is Niger’s leading bilateral partner for development assistance.
Recent bilateral meetings
President Issoufou was received by the French President at La Celle-Saint-Cloud on 13 December 2017 for the high-level meeting on the situation in the Sahel. President Issoufou took part in the Paris Summit of 28 August 2017, alongside the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Chad. He was received in Paris by President François Hollande on 31 March 2017 and also made an official visit in June 2016.
Mr Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger, was received for an official visit to Paris from 6 to 8 February 2017.
The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, made a visit to Niamey on 12 October 2017. He had previously visited as Minister of Defence on 25 February that year.
France is Niger’s second-largest supplier. Historically however, the bilateral trade balance is structurally in favour of Niger due to exports of uranium (deficit of -€199 million in 2016, as against -€199 million in 2014). Mechanical equipment and pharmaceuticals are the main export items from France to Niger.
Some twenty French companies are present in Niger, including both subsidiaries of large groups (Orange, Veolia, etc.) and small and medium-sized enterprises. They work in particular in the services, distribution and mining sectors. Areva is the leading private contributor to Niger’s government budget.
Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation
During the donor conference organized in Paris in December 2017, France confirmed its place as the leading bilateral partner with €400 million for the period 2017-2021, an average of €85 million per year. Niger is one of the 17 priority countries for development assistance from France.
A “general cooperation framework 2017-2021” guides the bilateral partnership, which is focused on sustainable development (renewable energy through co-financing of Agadez and Gorou Banda plants, support for the implementation of COP21 objectives, adaptation to climate change), agriculture (€67 million for ongoing projects), human development (health care, education and vocational training, with women a priority), infrastructure (water, sanitation and urban development) and the private sector (support for start-ups and incubators). Niger received budget assistance of €10 million in 2017 and €5 million in advance for 2018.
In 2017, 970 students from Niger were studying in France France co-finances businesses and educational projects at Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey.
Decentralized cooperation between France and Niger represents €6 million each year, with some 30 partnerships covering much of the country.
Scientific cooperation draws on the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the medical and health research centre that is a member of the international Pasteur Institute network (scientific director).
Cultural cooperation is strong and built on the Jean Rouch France-Niger cultural centre, which is a binational institution. Its two centres in Niamey and Zinder have the two largest public libraries in Niger. Two Alliances Française branches are located in Agadez and Maradi. The French Lycée La Fontaine school in Niamey has almost 800 pupils, at every stage of schooling.
In view of the security challenges in the Sahel-Sahara region, there is extensive security and defence cooperation between France and Niger. It seeks in particular to strengthen Niger’s expertise in combating major crime (terrorism, various forms of trafficking). Operation Barkhane, which was launched in August 2014 and deploys Air Force units to Niamey, is supporting Niger’s commitment within the Lake Chad multinational force and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
The country is home to a French regional school for military nurses, supported by French cooperation and receiving trainees from other countries.