Commissioner Piebalgs on his first visit to Niger: an additional support for development and security in the Sahel
During his first official visit to Niger, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, has announced a new aid allocation in the amount of 91.6 million Euros for the support of security and development in the North of the country. This decision supports the European Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. During the visit, Commissioner has met with the President, Mahamadou Issoufou and Prime Minister, Brig Rafina, with whom he discussed country's development strategy, presented the new EU development policy and finally addressed new Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel.
To respond to food crisis, the Commissioner also announced an emergency aid of €12.6 million. Commissioner Piebalgs said: "This visit confirms the importance of relations between the EU and Niger, and demonstrates our shared commitment to respond together to challenges initiated by poverty that is still high in the country." He added: "The situation in the Sahel is a serious threat for the development of Niger and for countries in the region. Existing instability and insecurity must be combated by a preventive, comprehensive and development orientated policy."
Stronger support for the Northern Niger
The new support will be devoted to two areas that are in line with the Niger's strategy: i) improvement of transport infrastructure (particularly roads) to connect Northern Niger's regions with rest of the country ii) support to justice, civil society and local development.
In addition to that, Commissioner will sign three Conventions on financial support with Niger relating to the implementation of the Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel and National Security and Development strategy of North Niger:
- a program to support statistical systems and registry office which aims at strengthening national capacities of management of different certified documents and support the General Census of Population in 2012.
- a program to support Justice and Rule of law, through which the EU will contribute to the reform of judicial system and a more effective fight against insecurity.
- a program to support Civil Society that needs to improve dialogue between different groups, also with the state and its partners.
In total, these three financing agreements are in the amount of 42 million €.
Reorientation of priority sectors of aid to Niger
This new support announcement comes from the envelope that was allocated to Niger for the period 2007-2013 (458 million Euro) and that was suspended after a political crisis in 2009 and takeover in 2010. In July 2011 it was announced about resumption of cooperation and following the political, economic and social changes in the country, priority areas have been revised. European support forms a part of the Niger Poverty Reduction Strategy, and will target primarily rural development and food security; regional integration and governance; and budget support.