Niamey is the capital and largest city of the West African country of Niger. Niamey lies on the Niger River, primarily situated on the east bank. Niamey's population was counted as 978,029 as of the 2012 census; the Niamey Capital District, covering 670 km2, had 1,026,848 people. As of 2017, population projections show the capital district growing at a slower rate than the country as a whole, which has the world's highest fertility rate.
It originated as an agricultural village of Maouri, Zarma (Zerma, Djerma), and Fulani people. It was established as the capital of Niger colony in 1926, and after World War II it grew rapidly. Today Niamey is occupied by Yoruba and Hausa traders, merchants, officials, and craftsmen from Nigeria, Benin, and Togo as well as from other parts of Niger. The city, which lies mainly on the left (north) bank of the river, has expanded onto the right bank since the construction of the Kennedy Bridge in 1970. The city is located in a pearl millet growing region, while manufacturing industries include bricks, ceramic goods, cement and weaving.
Data and Facts
- Among the world’s hottest cities throughout the year, Niamey’s monthly average high temperatures range between 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 38 degrees Celsius)
- Another climate-related challenge is the city’s prolonged dry season that typically lasts from November through February.
- For 2016, Niamey ranks as the 149th costliest city for newly relocated citizens, up 6 places from 2015 when Mercer recognized Niamey as the world’s 155th most expensive city
- Niger’s highest-value exports are uranium, oil, gold, cars, palm oil, rice and sugar according to the International Trade Centre
- Niamey city limits contain an area measuring 50 square miles (129 square kilometers) in which there were an estimated 774,235 inhabitants during 2016
- Population density is high throughout for Niamey and its surrounding urban areas, with an average 15,500 Nigeriens per square mile (6,000 per square kilometer) both within Niger’s capital city and its built-up urbanized neighborhoods
- For Niger overall, population density drops to an average 38 inhabitants per square mile (15 per square kilometer)
Niamey makes up a special capital district of Niger, which is surrounded by the Region of Tillabéri. The city of Niamey itself is governed as an autonomous first-level administrative block, the Niamey Urban Community . It includes five Urban Communes, divided into 44 «Districts» and 99 «Quartiers», including formerly independent towns. It is a co-equal first division subdivision with the seven Regions of Niger. The Niamey Urban Community includes an administration and Governor appointed by national leaders. Like the rest of Niger, Niamey has seen a decentralisation of governance since 2000. This excludes some outlying areas of the CUN. Forty-five councillors are popularly elected and in turn elect the Mayor of the City of Niamey. In July 2011 the first Mayor under the new system, Oumarou Dogari Moumouni, was installed by the Governor of the CUN Mrs. Aïchatou Boulama Kané and the City Council. The City Council and Mayor have limited roles compared to the CUN Governor. Niamey has a third layer of government in the Commune system. Each Commune elects its own council, and outside major cities, these function like independent cities. Under this devolution process formalised in the 1999 Constitution of Niger, the CUN contains five «Urban Communes» and no «Rural Communes». As all Nigerien Urban Communes, they are divided into Quarters with elected boards. The CUN includes land where there were formerly several surrounding towns and villages which the city of Niamey has now annexed. These include Soudouré, Lamordé, Gamkallé, Yantala, and Gaweye. The CUN covers a territory of 239.30 km2 , or 0.02% of the nation's territory.Until 1998, all of greater Niamey was part of Tillabéri Region, which prior to 1992 was named the Niamey Department.
The economy of Niger is based largely on internal markets, subsistence agriculture, and the export of raw commodities: foodstuffs to neighbors and raw minerals to world markets. Niger, a landlocked West African nation that straddles the Sahel, has consistently been ranked on the bottom of the Human development index, with a relatively low GDP and per capita income, and ranks among the least developed and most heavily indebted countries in the world, despite having large raw commodities and a relatively stable government and society not currently affected by civil war or terrorism. Economic activity centers 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 neighboring Nigeria, as well as groundnuts and 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 privatization and market deregulation plans instituted by these funders.
Price rises in the mid-1970s were followed by a collapse in the market price through much of the 1980s and 1990s. Thus the GDP per capita has little direct impact on the average Nigerien, although uranium funds much government operation. The 2006 Human Development Index ranked Niger sixth from worst in the world, with a HDI of 0.370: 174 of 179 nations.
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 , 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. Rainfall varies and when insufficient, Niger has difficulty feeding its population and must rely on grain purchases and food aid to meet food requirements. Although the rains in 2000 were not good, those in 2001 were plentiful and well distributed. Pearl millet, sorghum, and cassava are Niger's principal rain-fed subsistence crops. Irrigated rice for internal consumption, while expensive, has, since the devaluation of the CFA franc, sold for below the price of imported rice, encouraging additional production. While these people are dependent on the agricultural market portions of their production and consumption, much of Nigerien farming is subsistence agriculture outside of the marketplace.
After the economic competitiveness created by the January 1994 CFA franc devaluation contributed to an annual average economic growth of 3.5% throughout the mid-1990s, the economy stagnated due the sharp reduction in foreign aid in 1999, which gradually resumed in 2000, and poor rains in 2000. Reflecting the importance of the agricultural sector, the return of good rains was the primary factor underlying a projected growth of 4.5% for 2001.
In January 2000, Niger's newly elected government inherited serious financial and economic problems including a virtually empty treasury, past-due salaries and scholarship payments, increased debt, reduced revenue performance, and lower public investment. In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries and concluded an agreement with the Fund on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility .
In addition to changes in the budgetary process and public finances, the new government has pursued economic restructuring towards the IMF promoted privatization model. This has included the privatization of water distribution and telecommunications and the removal of price protections for petroleum products, allowing prices to be set by world market prices. Further privatizations of public enterprises are in the works.
Niger’s economic freedom score is 54.7, making its economy the 137th freest in the 2020 Index. Its overall score has increased by 3.1 points due to an improvement in the fiscal health score. Niger is ranked 25th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is approximately equal to the regional average and well below the world average. The Nigerien economy has been mostly unfree for well over a decade. The economy has been expanding at a healthy rate, however, driven by agriculture, donor-financed infrastructure projects, and exports of oil, uranium, and gold. The government is under pressure from international lenders and its own citizens to improve investor confidence, strengthen public finances, and curb corruption. Actual exports far exceed official statistics, which often fail to detect large herds of animals informally crossing into Nigeria. Some hides and skins are exported and some are transformed into handicrafts. In recent years, the Government of Niger promulgated revisions to the investment code , petroleum code , and mining code , all with attractive terms for investors. The present government actively seeks foreign private investment and considers it key to restoring economic growth and development. With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme , it has undertaken a concerted effort to revitalize the sector.
Niger rarely features on lists of the continent’s investment hot spots. The West African country attracts significantly less attention that its similarly-named neighbour Nigeria, expected to soon be the continent’s largest economy.China National Petroleum Corporation began pumping crude oil in Niger in 2011, and also co-owns a refinery in the country.However, Niger’s mining industry is facing challenges. Investment in the mining sector has slowed down in recent months due to uncertainty regarding new contracts between the government and French uranium mining and nuclear power giant Areva, which has had a presence in Niger for more than 50 years. The country is one of the world’s biggest uranium producers.Like many other African countries, Niger is landlocked. This pushes up prices and has an impact on industrial growth.
Nigeriens are relatively price-sensitive, there are opportunities in the retail sector for supermarkets and the construction of shopping malls.At a conference in September this year, Craig Lyons, director of Novare Equity Partners, a private equity fund manager focused on investment in sub-Saharan Africa, also identified Niger as a country that will provide attractive returns on investments in shopping mall developments.
Transport in Niger is composed of the transportation systems and methods used in this landlocked nation, with cities separated by huge uninhabited deserts, mountain ranges, and other natural features. A poor nation, Niger's transport system was little developed during the colonial period , relying upon animal transport, human transport, and limited river transport in the far south west and south east. No railways were constructed in the colonial period, and roads outside the capital remained unpaved. The Niger River is unsuitable for large-scale river transport, as it lacks depth for most of the year and is broken by rapids at many spots. Camel caravan transport was historically important in the Sahara desert and Sahel regions which cover most of the north.
Outside of cities, the first major paved roads were constructed from the northern town of Arlit to the Benin border in the 1970s and 1980s. This road, dubbed the Uranium Highway,runs through Arlit, Agadez, Tahoua, Birnin-Konni, and Niamey, and is part of the Trans-Sahara Highway system.
An additional paved highway runs from Niamey via Maradi and Zinder towards Diffa in the far east of the nation, although the stretch from Zinder to Diffa is only partially paved. Portions of this route are used by the Trans-Sahel Highway route. The Niger section is 837 km long , via Niamey, Dosso, Dogondoutchi, Birnin-Konni and Maradi to the Nigerian border at Jibiya. Other roads range from all-weather laterite surfaces to grated dirt or sand Pistes, especially in the arid north.
Intercity coach systems are the standard form of personal transport, with the government operating one bus service , and a multitude of buses, «bush taxis» , small vans and semi-converted trucks taking passengers and goods. Services are sometimes scheduled from the «Highway stations» found in every town, but are more frequently ad hoc: vehicles ply the trade between towns, picking up at stations or anywhere along the route, and departing only when full.Vehicles in Niger are subject to the «Laws of the Road» for which the government began a continuing reform in 2004-2006 and is based substantially on French models. Vehicles travel on the right side of the road, and roads use French style signage. Routes Nationale are marked with the traditional French Milestones: a white tablet with a red top, marked with the route number. Vehicles owners must obtain a Registration document and Vehicle license plates , which are of similar manufacture to those in Guinea and Mali. Licence plates usually contain the national code «RN» for international travel. Niger is a signatory of the September 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and thus honours International drivers licenses from other signatories.
The Niger River is navigable 300 km from Niamey to Gaya on the Benin frontier from mid-December to March. Thereafter a series of falls and rapids render the Niger unnavigable in all seasons. In the navigable stretches, shallows prevent all but the small draft African canoes from operating in many areas. As there is only one major bridge over the Niger , car ferries are of crucial importance, especially the crossing at Bac Farie, 40 km north of Niamey on the RN4, and the car ferry at Ayorou.Despite having no ocean or deep draft river ports, Niger does operate a ports authority. Nine of these had paved runways, 18 with unpaved landing strips. ICAO Codes for Niger are prefixed «DR». Of the 9 Airports with paved runways, 2 with paved strips from 2,438 to 3,047 m: Diori Hamani International Airport and Mano Dayak International Airport. These are the only two Nigerien airports with regular international commercial flights. Six of the remainder have strips between 1,524 and 2,437 m, while one is under 914 m. 18 additional airports have unpaved runways 15 of them with strips between 914 and 1,523 m.
Niger is a user of the Benin and Togo railway lines which carry goods from seaports to the Niger border. Rail lines to Niamey and other points in Niger were proposed during the colonial period, and continue to be discussed. In 2012, a multi-national railway system was proposed to connect Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
Other lines connecting Nigeria to Niger have also been discussed. For example, on August 13, 2013 in Nigeria, the Vice President of Nigeria Namadi Sambo announced that Nigeria is to construct a line into the Republic of Niger. The new track will be an extension of the existing branch from Zaria to Kaura-Namoda, which is to be continued via Sokoto to Birnin Kebbi.
Niger relies heavily on foreign sources for technical expertise, and French agencies are especially active; the Bureau of Geological and Mineral Research, the French Company for the Development of Textile Fibers, the Institute of Fruit and Citrus Fruit Research, and the French Institute of Scientific Research for Development and Cooperation all have offices in Niamey.
The National Institute of Agronomical Research of Niger, in Niamey, maintains two soil-science stations, at Tarka and Kolo. The Livestock Service of Niger has a Sahelian experimental station at Filingué for breeding zebu cattle and a center for goat breeding and poultry raising at Maradi. The University of Niamey, founded in 1971, includes faculties of science, agronomy, and health services, and institutes of radioisotopes and of research on the teaching of mathematics. The National Museum of Niger, founded in 1959 in Niamey, has a zoo, a geological and mineral exhibition, and paleontology and pre-history museums.
The establishment of an innovation and technology city at ICRISAT Sadore research station, as part of Niger government’s Niger 2.0 program, was formalized with the signing of an MOA between Niger’s Agency for Information Society and ICRISAT. The agreement was signed during the International Millet Festival held in Niamey, Niger.The center, developed around clusters , will host a startup and small-medium enterprises acceleration and incubation center, a training and certification center , a coding academy, a business center, a national data center and assembly lines for digital and other equipment including computers, tablets and solar panels.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Niamey's population has grown exponentially since independence - the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city.Under the military government of General Seyni Kountché, there were strict controls on residency and the government would regularly round up and «deport» those without permits back to their villages. The growing freedoms of the late 1980s and 1990s, along with the Tuareg Rebellion of the 1990s and famine in the 2000s, have reinforced this process of internal migration, with large informal settlements appearing on the outskirts of the city. Within the richer or more trafficked neighbourhoods, these beggars have in fact formed a well-regulated hierarchical system in which beggars garner sadaka according to cultural and religious norms.
A major attraction in the city is the Niger National Museum, which incorporates a zoo, a museum of vernacular architecture, a craft centre, and exhibits including dinosaur skeletons and the Tree of Ténéré. Most of the colourful pottery sold in Niamey is hand made in the nearby village of Boubon.In December 2005, it was the host of the Jeux de la Francophonie.Niger being a predominantly Muslim country, mosques are the most common places of worship, with the Grande Mosquée being the largest in the city.