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Niger: Niger Environment Profile


Electricity: The imminent privatisation
As far as electricity is concerned, Niger has a special bilateral agreement with its impressive neighbour, Nigeria, in order to supply electricity to many regions. After the West region, there has been a recent project to supply electricity to the East in the region of Diffa. This project was financed by the West African Bank of Development (WABD), after which there was the region of Gava situated in the South of Niger. Maradi, the economic capital of Niger, in the centre of the country, will also soon become a beneficiary of the agreement.

Except for the Northern region, which receives its electricity from electrical groups and the thermal power station in Arlit, the rest of the country receives its electricity from the major cities in each department, and also recently from the large villages, thanks to this special program. However, the high cost of having electricity in Niger means that the connection rate to the network in rural areas is quite low, being only about 4 to 5%2525.
Created in 1968, the Electricity Company of Niger (Nigelec), is a mixed economy company with a capital of 3 356.5 million CFA Francs, 94.7%2525 of this being owned by the government. It is responsible for the production, supply and purchasing of electricity in Niger. It covers about 90%2525 of all energy needs, via Nepa in Nigeria, using two 132V power lines.
As well as imported electricity from Nigeria, Nigelec gets its energy from the mining company Sonichar, via the thermal power station in Anou Araren, which is fuelled by coal.
The privatisation process of Nigelec is presently being examined. The option that was decided on in July 2001 is to give a grant to the area that is currently serviced by Nigelec and a division of ownership. The company will receive 51%2525, the government 34%2525, the workers 5%2525, individual Nigeriens 7%2525 and shareholders 3%2525. The grant will be for a period of 25 years. There have already been two offers made by Nepa and Vivendi Environnement.
In rural parts of Niger, the primary source of energy is still wood. According to a study that was carried out, a family of 7 to 10 people spends on average 15 000 CFA francs per month on wood.
As for the fight against desertification, Sonichar is making a contribution by making industrial grade coal available for domestic use, so that the consumption of wood decreases.
For a 40 Kg bag of coal, the cost is about 4 000 CFA Francs. This can satisfy the needs of a family that spends 15 000 CFA francs a month on wood for three weeks. Since the start of 2004, the government has begun a national campaign to promote the use of coal, by encouraging households, hospitals and garrisons etc, to try this product.
Three quarters of Niger is occupied by desert. This explains why water management is one of the major development issues for the government. Thus all efforts are to

wards finding solutions for the water problems, and more importantly the drinking water problem, which needs to be made available to both rural and urban populations, through investments in waterworks programs in villages and urban areas.

A large investment program, divided into three parts, supports the institutional reforms of the sub sector urban hydraulics program initiated by the government. Firstly, the privatisation of the National Water Company, which was achieved in 2001, by the birth of the Company of Patrimony of the Waters of Niger (CPWN), and the Company for National Water Exploitation (CNWE). Secondly, the initiation of the Sectorial Water Project (SWP), costing 72 million US dollars, with the support of the World Bank, the BOAD and the French Development Agency (FDA). And thirdly, the reestablishment of the financial balance of the water sub sector with an underlying goal of guaranteeing its self-sufficiency.

Hydroelectric Energy
The country has quite a high hydroelectric potential. Actually, the country’s surface water resources are very high, reaching up to 31 billion cubic meters in an average year. For the most part, these resources are concentrated around the River Niger’s basic, which extends for 550 Km across the country with its tributaries.
The volume of groundwater is estimated to be 2.5 billion cubic metres each year. This represents a potential source that has not been exploited much, because up until now less than 20%2525 is used on the village and pastoral hydraulic projects and urban and irrigation projects.
The problem with water as an energy source comes about with the completion of the dam project at Kandadji, situated about 170 Km upstream from the capital, Niamey. This important dam project along the river will allow for the production of enough hydroelectric energy to provide enough power to a large part of the country, and also provide a means of irrigation for thousands of hectares of land.

This multipurpose project at Kandadji could produce 565 GWh of energy with, over time, a domestic distribution of energy at a cost of 27 CFA Francs / KWh, a cost that is considerably less than the price that is considered to be the norm (38 CWA Francs / KWh).
With the outrageous cost of completing the dam project (more than 128 million US dollars), some alternatives have been discussed, to have two smaller dams, for example - one in Gambou (in the W park), and one in Dyodyonga (on the Mekrou, a river straddling Benin and Niger). However, the hopes of the people of Niger really lie behind the completion of the dam at Kandadji. To do this, th

e position of High Commissioner (a minister) was created, whose mission is to highlight the resources of the Niger valley. To better this, the authorities, along with France’s support, have encouraged a summit meeting in Paris between the heads of state about the exploitation of the waters of the River Niger.

Hence, because of this “shared vision”, the management and exploitation of water will be undertaken in a conservative manner between the states that share the waters of the River Niger, through the Authority of the Basin of Niger (ABN).
This project is rather innovative and means that it has moved from being developed on a national basis to being a regional project. It should be constructed over a period of 8 years, based upon a BOT formula, and be managed by a private agent.

Solar Energy
In keeping with the framework of using solar energy as a substitute for current energy methods such as oil, gas and electricity, Niger redirected its energy policies at a very early stage. Thus, since 1965 the National Solar Energy Centre (NSEC) was created, with a mission to research new and renewable energy resources.

Notwithstanding the major financial constraints, the technicians, with the professor Abdou Moumouni Dioffo at the head, of which the University of Niamey shares this name, have succeeded in beginning to make the use of solar cookers, hot water heaters, ice boxes and thermal capture panelling popular.
As well as these, there is the production of different technology prototypes such as solar dryers, solar ovens and even a solar engine, whose patents were applied for from the African Organisation for Intellectual property.