Friday, July 24, 2009

Niger -- Opportunity or Exploitation?

Niger is a landlocked country on the African continent slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Its economy is based primarily on agriculture but the country has mineral assets consisting of uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, molybdenum, gypsum, salt and petroleum. Only 11.43% of the land is arable. It is predominately desert (Sahara).

It is one of the hottest countries on earth. It is also one of the poorest.

The male life expectancy is 51.39 years. Female is 53.85 years.

Infant mortality is 116.66/1,000. 5th worst in the world.

CIA ranks risk of major diseases as very high.

The country has a 28.7% literacy rate.

The country is currently in a political crisis. The President, Mamadou Tanja, is seeking to extend his term as President. He is limited by the constitution, but recently fired all cabinet and elected officials and called a Constitutional Convention to change the constitution to allow additional terms in office. The people seem to support him in this. The Convention has until August 4th to come up with a new Constitution.

The country is one of the poorest in the world.

It is being slowly invaded by China who has its eye on the uranium deposits -- some of the largest in the world.

When I flew into the country a few weeks ago, I would estimate there were at least 30 Chinese mining engineers on the flight with me. Locals told me that such events were commonplace.

I saw Chinese made tractors in the hands of at least one regional governor. Hmmmm.

The U.S. had better step up quickly or the Chinese will control the minerals of this poor and desperate country.

What better way for a political leader seeking to extend his power than to provide gifts to the poor of his country -- gifts that cost him nothing (tractors) yet are signs of an attempt to influence the bidding of contracts for the few resources the country has that have significant value on the world market.

2 comments:

Cimarron said...

China in Africa...good grief!

i beati said...

wasn't our illustrious leader just there?Oh I forgot we aren't developing the resources fully in this country .. farmers down by 2 million I heard..sk

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