Economic situation Agriculture is the dominant industry
The government is trying hard to put the economy on a broader footing. To this end, it is encouraging the establishment of industrial businesses and is privatising state-owned enterprises. The main focus of these efforts is on mining. The Niger is one of the world’s biggest producers of uranium and also has deposits of oil, coal, gold, iron, nickel, copper and phosphate. However, uranium mining is largely in the hands of foreign companies and the level of government monitoring has so far been inadequate, resulting in considerable damage to both the environment and people’s health.
Moreover, uranium mining has repeatedly been the cause of violent conflicts in recent years. Uranium deposits are to be found in the north of the country. The people living there – mainly Tuareg – are demanding a greater say in how the land is used as well as a larger share of the revenue generated by uranium exports.
An important prerequisite for sustainable development is transparent and responsible resource governance. The Niger has made important progress in this respect: following a review under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Niger was declared EITI compliant in March 2011 in recognition of its implementation of transparency criteria and political reforms.