Niger. In 2013, Niger was the last of all 186 countries
in the UN Index on Human Development. According to
Countryaah, the country's birth
rates were among the highest in the world, but the life
expectancy of the residents was only 55 years.
However, during the year, a report from Save the Children
showed that Niger made the greatest progress of all in
reducing child mortality. Despite scarce resources and the
country 321 Nigeria suffered from recurring drought and
famine, child mortality in Niger fell by almost two-thirds
between 1990 and 2012.
Drought, grasshopper swarms, uncertain food prices and
political instability have given the country a chronic food
shortage, and the government worked on a plan for change
during the year. The main goal is to transform agriculture,
which provides livelihood to 80% of the population. The
intention is to use resources from the country's uranium and
oil exports to finance the agricultural sector.
Niger is the world's fourth largest uranium exporter, and
uranium accounts for more than 40% of the country's exports.
Despite widespread poverty, the country's GDP was therefore
projected to grow by about 6% during the year. Both oil and
uranium exports from Niger are expected to increase, and in
2015 production is planned to start from the world's second
largest uranium mine, the Imouraren, which has the largest
uranium deposit in Africa.
In 2013, an increased share of the resources was used by
the military by sending close to 700 soldiers to the West
African so-called Stabilization Force that entered Mali to
help the government there to fight Islamist rebels.
As a result, Niger was also attacked by rebels, who came
across the border from Mali. In May, suicide bombers
attacked a military base and a French-owned uranium mine in
northwestern Niger. A total of at least 25 people were
killed, with the attackers, and about 50 people injured.
French nuclear power company Areva was forced to stop
production in the mine for a while. Areva's two mines in
Niger provide fuel to one-third of France's major nuclear
program and thus contribute to some of the cheapest
electricity in the western world.
Later in the year, the government decided to review the
contract with Areva and demanded sharply increased
government revenue from the mines. Thousands of people
demonstrated in the mining town of Arlit against French
Areva in support of the government's investigation. The
locals criticized Areva for taking so little advantage of
the mining industry. they complained of water shortages
while the company pumps up many millions of cubic meters of
water each year.
The conflict in neighboring Mali meant that Niger had to
receive a large number of refugees. In some refugee camps,
the United Nations World Food Fund WFP introduced a system
of food vouchers instead of rations. Thus, the refugees were
able to vary their diet by choosing what they wanted to buy
in local stores, and local trade gained a boost. According
to WFP, the system provided a supplement of over SEK 700,000
a month to the economy of the small town of Mangaize near
the Mali border.
The International Court of The Hague decided during the
year an old border dispute between Niger and Burkina Faso.
Both countries declared themselves satisfied with the
decision of the court, which made some border adjustments.
In October, 92 people were found thirsty in the Agadez
area of the Niger Desert after their vehicles collapsed on
a major migrant route to Europe. The victims were mostly
young families and most were women and children. Agadez lies
several hundred kilometers from the neighboring countries in
the north with only sand and soothing heat in between.
According to the UN, about 80,000 migrants travel through
the Sahara desert in Niger each year.
After the tragedy, Niger decided to close the illegal
migrant camps in the north. The government believed that the
tragedy was the result of the trafficking of human
traffickers and it was declared that those involved in
trafficking would be severely punished. Many arrests were
made, reportedly also among personnel from the security
In November, the United Nations stated that Niger had
close to 40,000 refugees who crossed the border from Nigeria
in the south from the fighting there between the military
and Islamist militia Boko Haram.