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Niger

Executive Summary

Niger is eager to attract foreign investment and has taken slow but deliberate steps to improve its business climate, including making reforms to liberalize the economy, encourage privatizations, appeal to foreign investors, increase imports and exports, and create new export processing zones.

In April 2021, newly elected President Bazoum Mohamed was inaugurated in Niger’s historic first democratic transfer of executive power.  Bazoum intends to build upon the advancement of his predecessors to continue to develop the nation’s mineral and petroleum wealth, while seeking to develop agricultural businesses that can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.  Pre-COVID economic growth averaged roughly six percent per year and the government managed positive 1.5 percent growth through the 2020 pandemic year. The Government of Niger (GoN) continues to seek foreign investment – U.S. or otherwise.

President Bazoum frequenty reiterates the need for FDI during official visits. In 2017, the GoN created the High Council for Investment, which is an organization tasked with supporting and promoting foreign direct investments in Niger, and is furthering appeals for foreign investment with the development of the GUCE, Guichet Unique du Commerce Exterieur, an information and facilitation system for foreign trade, electronic and dematerialized, intended to simplify and modernize procedures to facilitate the passage of goods entering and leaving the national territory.

U.S. investment in the country is very small; there is currently only one U.S. firm operating in Niger outside of U.S. Government-related projects. Many U.S. firms see risk due to the country’s limited internet, transport, and energy infrastructure, terrorist threats, the perception of political instability, lack of educated and skilled/experienced workers, and a climate that is dry and very hot. Foreign investment dominates key sectors: France in the the uranium sector, Morocco is making inroads with telecommunications, bank and real estate development, while Chinese and Turkish investment is paramount and expanding in the oil, mining,construction, and hospitality sectors. Much of the country’s retail stores, particularly those related to food, dry goods and clothing are operated by Lebanese and Moroccan entrepreneurs. GoN focus areas for investment include the mining and petroleum sector, infrastructure and construction, transportation, and agribusiness. The GoN also hopes to draw investment into petroleum exploration into proven reserves with the 2023 target completion of a crude oil export pipeline.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perception Index 2021 124 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 129 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $550 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of expectations regarding RBC, as well as business’ obligations to proactively conduct due diligence and do no harm.

Ordinance No. 97-001 of 10 January 1997 on the Institutionalization of Environmental Impact Assessments, Article 4 of which states: “Activities, projects or programs of development which, by the importance of their size or their impact on the natural and human environments, may affect the latter are subject to prior authorization from the Minister of the Environment. This authorization is granted on the basis of an assessment of the consequences of the project activities or the program updated by an environmental impact study prepared by the promoter.”

For example, in the extractive industries sector, the GoN has focused on ensuring existing obligations are met and that communities benefit from investments. Nigerien law states that 15 percent of revenues derived from extractive industries must be returned to the municipality affected by the project. However, such payments are difficult to track and the GoN is not active or engaged in follow-up.

There have been no high-profile instances of private sector impact on human rights in the recent past.

The GoN attempts to enforce domestic laws related to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, and environmental protections. However, a lack of resources makes such enforcement difficult and only somewhat effective.

The government has not put in place corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards.

There is limited NGO focus on responsible business practices. Those looking at transparency in contracts and business practices are generally able to work freely regarding engagement with businesses.

Niger is not a member of the OECD and does not adhere to OECD guidelines, including those related to supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. There are no Nigerien-owned companies that deal exclusively with minerals, including those that may originate from conflict-affected areas.

Niger was officially readmitted to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative in February 2020 after a three-year absence. The constitution mandates full disclosure of all payments from foreign government stemming from mining operations, as well as publication of all new exploration and exploitation contracts in the mining sector. However, in practice, payments from foreign countries to GoN officials have at times been controversial due to non-reporting of such payments.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

The constitution, adopted in 2010, contains provisions for greater transparency in government reporting of revenues from the extractive industries, as well as the declaration of personal assets by government officials, including the President. On April 6th, 2021 President Bazoum Mohamed submitted a written sworn statement of his assest to the National Court of Auditors and made the fight against corruption central to his five-year term program.

The High Authority for the Fight against Corruption and Related Offenses (HALCIA) has the authority to investigate corruption charges within all government agencies. HALCIA is limited by a lack of resources and a regulatory process that is still developing. Despite the limitations, HALCIA was able to conduct a number of successful investigations during 2020-2021. Laws related to anti-corruption measures are in place and apply to government officials, their family members, and all political parties.

Legislation on Prevention and Repression of Corruption was passed into law in January 2018; a strategy for implementation was still pending in 2022. Niger has laws in place designed to counter conflict of interest in awarding contracts and/or government procurements. Bribery of public officials by private companies is officially illegal, but occurs regularly despite GoN denunciations of such conduct.

Law number 2017-10 of March 31, 2017, prohibits bribery of public officials, international administrators, and foreign agents, bribes within the private sector, illicit enrichment and abuse of function by public authorities. The High Authority Against Corruption and Relating Crimes (HALCIA) is further tasked with working with private companies on internal anti-corruption efforts. Bribery of public officials, however, occurs on a regular basis. Though most companies officially discourage such behavior, internal controls are rare except among the largest (mostly foreign) enterprises. The government/authority encourages or requires private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials. Some private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

The government does not provide any additional protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.

The government/authority encourages or requires private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials. Some private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

Niger has joined several international and regional anti-corruption initiatives including the UN Convention against Corruption in 2008, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in 2005, and the Protocol on Combating Corruption of the economic community of the states of West Africa (ECOWAS) in 2006. Niger is alsoa member state of the GIABA, which is an institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) in West Africa.

As of April 2022, there is only one large U.S. telecommunications firm invested in Niger, although it gained its assets through acquisition of a U.K. company. This low number is due to reasons that include, but are not limited to, the perception of corruption. Cases of suspected corruption occasionally appear in media reports concerning GoN procurement, the award of licenses and concessions and customs.

Resources to Report Corruption

Maï Moussa Elhadji Basshir, President
High Authority to Combat Corruption and Related Infractions (HALCIA)
BP 550 Niamey – Niger
(227) 20 35 20 94/ 95/ 96/ 97
contact@halcia.ne 

Wada Maman
President
Transparency International Niger (TI-N)
BP 10423, Niamey – Niger
(227) 20 32 00 96 / 96 28 79 69
anlcti@yahoo.fr 

10. Political and Security Environment

Niger has been politically stable since 2010, when the most recent of Niger’s coup d’états (there have been four since 1990) concluded within less than a year in a return to democratic governance. The most recent general elections were held in in December 2020, with a presidential run-off in February 2021. President Bazoum Mohamed was elected in the first democratic transfer of executive power in Niger’s history. Although Niger’s politics are often contentious and antagonistic, political violence is rare. Most parties agree that national security and peaceful cohabitation among Niger’s ethnicities are the government’s principal priority. However, protests and strikes about non-payment of salaries for public employees, lack of funding for education, and general dissatisfaction with social conditions remain a concern.

Public protest over issues like poverty, corruption, and unemployment can also sometimes turn violent. In 2020, police arrested several protesters engaged in burning tires and vandalizing property in protest of embezzlement at the Ministry of National Defense. Protests also followed the government’s announcement of social lockdown procedures in March 2020 to respond to COVID-19.

Niger experiences security threats on three distinct border areas. Niger is a founding member of the G5 Sahel fighting terrorism in the Sahel while integrating the poverty reduction dimension to mitigate the effects of youth underemployment and violent extremism. The collapse of the Libyan state to the north has resulted in a flow of weapons and extremists throughout the Sahel region. Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa terrorists regularly launch attacks in the Diffa Region in Niger’s southeast. Jama’at al Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), which is a loose affiliation of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), Ansar Dine, and al-Mourabitoun; along with ISIS-Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), threaten Niger’s northern and northwestern borders. Terrorists regularly crossed the Mali border to attack civilian and security sites in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions. Niger has a history of western residents and aid workers being kidnapped by terrorist groups or kidnapping for ransom gangs, as recently as October 2020. So far, more than 40 out of the 266 communes in Niger are in a state of emergency. The State Department’s Travel Advisory for Niger from April 2022 advises travels to be aware that violent crimes including robbery are common and terrorism is a threat.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Niger has an abundance of available labor, primarily unskilled. One of the most pressing concerns within the Ministry of Labor is the lack of jobs available to recent high school and university graduates, who often face long spells of unemployment or underemployment. There is very high unemployment among young workers, many of whom are uneducated and illiterate. Migration from the rural areas to the cities is a problem, as the majority of recently-arrived workers are unskilled. Such workers most often turn up in the informal economy. While informal activities are generally not reported, the World Bank estimates from 2021 stated that between 70 and 80 percent of the non-agricultural workforce is in the informal economy. Niger, as part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must accept laborers from neighboring ECOWAS states. While such laborers do exist within the Nigerien economy, this phenomenon is not common enough to cause friction and/or widespread resentment among local laborers.

The informal economy in Niger is vast and employs a majority of the nation’s population not involved in subsistence farming. In cities, most workers in the non-government sector are employed in an informal manner, including domestic services, markets and vending, and construction and maintenance. U.S. companies are encouraged to avoid informal employment arrangements as it presents a liability to Ministry of Labor inspectors.

Given both the need for foreign direct investment and the abundance of available labor within the country, labor laws are mostly modified, rather than waived to accommodate foreign firms. Many large foreign firms, including Orano and CNPC, are allowed to bring workers into the country provided that Nigerien laborers make up a substantial percentage of the overall workforce. As a member of ECOWAS, Niger routinely accepts labor, as obligated, from other member states.

According to Article 9 of Niger’s 2010 Labor Code, firms must hire Nigerien nationals via direct recruitment or through public or private hiring agencies.

There are no restrictions on employers regarding hiring or laying off employees to respond to fluctuating market conditions. However, before making the decision, the employer must consult with the Inspector of Labor. An employee laid off for economic reasons receives, in addition to severance pay, a non-taxable allowance paid by the employer equal to one month’s gross salary.

Given both the need for foreign direct investment and the abundance of available labor within the country, labor laws are mostly modified, rather than waived to accommodate foreign firms. Currently there are no special economic zones in Niger.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are generally respected and workers routinely exercise them. Unions have exercised the right to bargain collectively for wages above the legal minimum in the formal sectors and to improve working conditions.

Niger’s labor code, adopted in September 2012, and its decree No. 2017-682/PRN/MET/PS of August 2017 regulates employment, vocational training, remuneration, collective bargaining, labor representation, and labor disputes. The code also establishes the Consultative Commission for Labor and Employment, the Labor Court and regulates the Technical Consultative Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. The Labor Code lays out clear procedures for dispute resolution mechanisms in its Title VII on labor disputes. Labor hearings are public except at the reconciliation stage.

Although strikes are routine and common, most stem from non-payment of salaries and unsatisfactory working conditions existing within the public sector. Such strikes do not pose an investment risk.

Although Niger has ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for employment, traditional caste-based servitude is still practiced in some parts of the country. In addition, child labor remains a problem particularly in the agricultural sector and the commercial and artisanal mining sectors. Gender discrimination is quite common within all workplaces.

There were no labor related laws or regulation enacted during the last year. The Labor Code adopted in September 2012 and its decree No. 2017-682/PRN/MET/PS of August 2017 with the regulatory part of the Labor Code remains the most recent legislation related to labor.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2019 $11,191 2020 $13,741 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/
world-investment-report
  

* Source for Host Country Data: https://data.worldbank.org/country/niger

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (through 2020)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 6,617 100% Total Outward N/A N/A
France 2,836 42%
China 2,678 40%
Turkey 240 4%
India 133 2%
Algeria 113 2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

 

14. Contact for More Information

Andrew Caruso
Economic Officer
US Embassy, Niamey
+227 99-49-90-40
CarusoAN@State.gov 

Boubacar Gaoh Mohamed
Economic and Commercial Assistant
BP 11201, Niamey, Niger
+227-85948158
+227 99-49-90-76
BoubacarGaohM@State.gov 

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