Economy of Niger
The economy of Niger is based largely upon internal markets, subsistence agriculture, and the export of raw commodities: foodstuffs to neighbours and raw minerals to world markets. Niger, a landlocked West African nation that straddles the Sahel, has consistently been ranked near the bottom of the Human development index, with a relatively low GDP and per capital income. Economic activity centres on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, re-export trade, and export of uranium. The 50% devaluation of the West African CFA franc in January 1994 boosted exports of livestock, cowpeas, onions, and the products of Niger's small cotton industry. Exports of cattle to neighbouring Nigeria, as well as Groundnuts and their oil remain the primary non-mineral exports. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid - which was suspended briefly following coups d'état in 1996 and 1999 - for operating expenses and public investment. Short-term prospects depend on continued World Bank and IMF debt relief and extended aid. The post 1999 government has broadly adhered to privatisation and market deregulation plans instituted by these funders.
Niger's economy is based largely on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Drought cycles, desertification, a 3.4% population growth rate and the drop in world demand for uranium have undercut an already marginal economy. Traditional subsistence farming, herding, small trading, and informal markets dominate an economy that generates few formal sector jobs. Between 1988 and 1995 28% to 30% of the total economy of Niger was in the unregulated Informal sector, including small and even large scale rural and urban production, transport and services. Agriculture
Niger's agricultural and livestock sectors are the mainstay of all but 18% of the population. Fourteen percent of Niger's GDP is generated by livestock production (camels, goats, sheep and cattle), said to support 29% of the population. The 15% of Niger's land that is arable is found mainly along its southern border with Nigeria. Cowpeas and onions are grown for commercial export, as are small quantities of garlic, peppers, potatoes, and wheat. Groundnuts, and to a lesser degree Cotton, introduced by former colonial power France in the 1930s and 1950s respectively, account for most of the world market for Nigerien industrial agriculture. Mining
The persistent uranium price slump has brought lower revenues for Niger's uranium sector, although uranium still provides 72% of national export proceeds.
Exploitable deposits of gold are known to exist in Niger in the region between the Niger River and the border with Burkina Faso. Substantial deposits of phosphates, coal, iron, limestone, and gypsum also have been found. Numerous foreign companies, including American firms, have taken out exploration licenses for concessions in the gold seam in western Niger, which also contains deposits of other minerals.
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