Guest of honor at the forum organized by the French Council of Investors in Africa (CIAN), the President of the Republic, Head of State, HE Mohamed Bazoum took part, by videoconference from Niamey, in the opening of the symposium which brought together yesterday in Paris, mainly French businessmen and some high-level delegations of African economic players on the theme: Africa between challenges and opportunities. Responding to questions from Nicolas Beytout, founding president of L’Opinion (French daily newspaper partner of this symposium), after having decried the “magnifying effect” of the media on the phenomenon of terrorism, although limited on the borders with certain neighboring countries, the President of the Republic presented investment opportunities in renewable and fossil energies and in the agriculture and livestock sector in Niger.
Being a French-speaking country, closer to France than to any other cultural partner that was supposed to facilitate trade, Niger today has more Turkish and Chinese investors. In his intervention, in an interview format with the boss of the Opinion newspaper, President Mohamed Bazoum noted that “generally speaking, there is a certain disaffection of European companies vis-à-vis the African continent, or at the very least , an absence of the will that we would have liked to note on their part”. The Head of State finds that, in fact, European and French companies in particular do not take sufficient advantage of the “neighborhood” factor. This, explains HE Mohamed Bazoum, due to the magnifying effect caused by the media by insisting on the phenomenon of terrorism and all forms of violence that the African continent is going through, thus giving the frozen image of an unstable continent. , uncertain, and that the countries of the Sahel, a fortiori, are doomed countries, while “the reality is quite different”, indicates President Bazoum.
Niger, which is in the center of the Sahel, the region most affected by violence on the continent, “terrorism is a phenomenon that is located on the margins of our territory, on the borders with certain neighboring countries, precisely in the area of three borders and in the bed of Lake Chad”, declared the Head of State. Far from underestimating the security situation, but Niger is 1,267,000 km2, recalls President Bazoum. “Throughout the rest of the country, life is going on as normal,” he continued.
There are therefore many opportunities today, especially because of human capital on which the authorities have placed particular emphasis in recent years, notably through training and education. And “we are a country which is in the process of cleaning up the business climate, which is in the process of carrying out a lot of simplification, in particular in the investment code, in the general tax code”, declared the Head of the ‘State. HE Bazoum Mohamed reassures, indeed, as for the firm will of the authorities to take care against the factors likely to obstruct the business, as well as the interests which can be drawn from the investments which are made in our country. For all these reasons, he also considers that there is “a great opportunity today to invest in a stable country, with solid democratic institutions, in a rule of law”.
The President of the Republic then explained that the redeployment of the Barkhane and Takouba force in Niger should also reassure European investors, even if for the moment the authorities have not finished signing the protocol. “They did not first arrive from the move from Mali (…), it may be for the month of September. France is already making a lot of efforts and making a lot of sacrifices in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel”, recognizes the Head of State Mohamed Bazoum who positively appreciates the contribution of the French military presence in the region.
The Head of State underlined that companies from other countries such as China and Turkey invest easily without prejudice in our country, and this is successful for them, he said, before deploring the pessimistic view of French investors vis-à-vis -vis Niger, while the rapprochement through the language should promote exchanges more than with any other country. “The African continent, Niger in particular, has very strong economic growth potential. And if a start is made, there are some who are late and one day they will feel the effects. It is our conviction, and it is a pity”, said HE Bazoum Mohamed.
Today, the energy sector which is much more promising in Niger, with significant potential. In the field of agriculture and livestock also the State nourishes the ambition to modernize the value chains, through the program of agro-industrial poles. “It is, in fact, absolutely necessary, even urgent, for European companies to take an interest in agriculture in countries like Niger. We are a country that is relatively close to Europe, in a position of centrality in Africa”
“We remain a mining country, in every sense of the word, very rich. Uranium must be back on the agenda…”
We do not, in a quasi-ideological way, agree with this alternative placed between renewable energies and fossil energies. “Uranium has been the victim of trials that are more political than rational. And today what is happening in Europe demands that we have another approach to the use we make of the energy made from uranium (…). We also have Coal. What is happening in Ukraine puts all these questions back on the agenda”, considers the President of the Republic HE Bazoum Mohamed who does not exclude the possibility of “reviving” the exploitation of materials using fossil fuels insofar as investors would be interested. Otherwise, “it will be energy that we can produce another day when we have our own capital to invest in this area”, hopes the Head of State. HE Bazoum Mohamed hammered that “uranium must return to the agenda in the production of energy in the world”
Speaking of human capital, President Mohamed Bazoum noted that Niger has suffered greatly from the deficiency of its education system. And “We have understood that the phenomenon of demographic inflation with which we are confronted is partly linked to this deficiency. We are promoting reforms in this system so as to give more quality to this system in order to have the qualitative and quantitative results that we need,” he said. The reforms relate in particular to the curricula, on the basis of the diagnosis which is made. Another major aspect of the reforms consists of creating the conditions for keeping young girls in school, in particular through boarding schools in rural colleges.
By Ismaël Chékaré (onep)
The President of the Republic took part, by videoconference, in the Africa 2022 Forum organized by the CIAN: “Uranium must return to the agenda in the production of energy in the world”, declares President Bazoum