The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, arrived in Niamey on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 for a two-day official visit to Niger, which began with a meeting with the Head of State, Mahamadou Issoufou.
During the meeting, the two leaders highlighted the convergence of the priorities of the host country and the AfDB Group, as defined in the High 5s.
"We have launched the Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens initiative, aiming to reduce poverty - which mainly affects women and rural populations - to 31% and enabling the complete eradication of hunger in Niger by 2021," announced the Nigerien President.
"To achieve this", he continued, "we are focusing on irrigation and water management with the support of the AfDB, our Bank, which shares our vision."
President Issoufou also called for the AfDB to strengthen its support in the key sectors of energy and agriculture, asking for a particular focus on water, which he said needs further funding.
Akinwumi Adesina highlighted bilateral cooperation between the AfDB and Niger during a meeting with the Prime Minister, Brigi Rafini, the Minister of Planning, Aïchatou Boulama Kané, who is also the AfDB's Governor for Niger, and several Ministers in charge of sectoral departments.
"I am convinced that the construction of the Kandadji dam, one of the projects we are financing here in Niger, will enable your country to overcome challenges in agriculture and energy," Adesina told members of the government. "Once complete, the Kandadji dam will produce 1.5 billion square metres, 125 MW, and will allow about 45,000 hectares of land to be irrigated."
The AfDB President confirmed that the transformation of Nigerien agriculture will have a positive role in the country's macroeconomic stabilization, poverty reduction, especially in rural areas where it is very high, and improvements in school attendance, especially for girls.
"The development of the energy sector is crucial for deep and sustainable change in the country and its industrialization," insisted Adesina. "The off-grid solution remains most suitable in the current situation. The AfDB will mobilize the resources required to light up Niger and supply energy in conjunction with the private sector. I remain convinced that access to electricity is an essential condition for development."
"We're working together," replied the Nigerien Prime Minister, Brifi Rafini.
Rafini then added, "With the AfDB office in Niger opening soon, we are guaranteed even closer and higher quality cooperation in our bilateral relations."
The AfDB President's agenda also includes a visit to the National Centre for Solar Energy (CNES), where the AfDB soon plans to increase capacity building. He will also visit the hub for small and medium enterprises in Niger (CIPMEN), which helps young companies in the ICT, renewable energy, environment, and agro-business sectors. CIPMEN also supports project sponsors during the design, development, and growth phases.
"I am impressed by the range of ideas coming from young Nigeriens who create and derive revenue sources from their environment. We must assist them and support them because the future of young Africans is here in Africa," stressed the AfDB President.
The Bank's portfolio in Niger covers agriculture, energy, education and training, access to water and sanitation, and infrastructure. The funds allocated to Niger by the African Development Fund (ADF) were increased to nearly US $250 million with the ADF-14.
The African Development Bank has been active in Niger since December 17, 1970 and enjoys close and diversified cooperation, representing US $1.4 billion (approximately 800 billion CFA francs) in accumulated commitments as of August 31, 2017. Rural development is one of the priorities, particularly by supporting the construction of the Kandadji dam on the Niger River and the Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens (3N) initiative.
The Bank's active portfolio in Niger includes 15 projects amounting to US $510 million, divided as follows: 44% for rural development, 20% for transport, 14% for multi-sector operations, 12% for water and sanitation, and 10% for the social sector.