The United Republic of NIGER : Economic Perspectives

Niger’s growth has been very resistant to many risks that occurred these last years:

  • Terrorist attacks
  • Low uranium export prices
  • Climate change that affected agriculture in the country
  • Closure of the border with Nigeria.

In 2020, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, GDP slowed to 1.2%, compared to 5.9% in 2019 (IMF). However, a strong return in growth is expected in 2021 (6.9%) and 2022 (12.8%), subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery. The main engines of Niger’s growth are its large projects funded by donors and foreign direct investment.

  • The Primary sector accounts for 8% of the country’s GDP and employs up to 72.5% of the workforce. This sector is mainly based on livestock and its ancillary activities: milk, cheese, meat…
  • The Industrial Sector contributes to 2% of GDP and barely employs 7% of the working population. Gold and the Oil sector dominate the country’s economic activity.
  • The Tertiary Sector contributes to 1% of GDP and employs about 20% of the total working population

With more than 22 million inhabitants, the 18th most populous country in Africa, Niger is the continent’s 35th richest country with an estimated GDP of USD 13.70 Billion in 2020.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, but however has one of the highest population growth rates. Insecurity aggravated by Boko Haram attacks has led to a major humanitarian crisis. UNHCR has more than 350,000 refugees and internally displaced persons in Niger. In 2020, Niger still ranks 189th in the world in terms of human development. The official unemployment rate in Niger was around 0.7% in 2020 (World Bank).

Population (2020 UN)32.51 million inhabitants
GDP / Capita USD (2021, IMF)USD 10.0
HDI (2020, UNDP)79th over 190
Doing Business (2020 World Bank rank) 75th over 190
Corruption Perceptions Index 202136h over 180
Unemployment rate (FMI 2021)9.7%

On a Demographic point on view, only 16.6% of the population live in urban areas. 80% of the population is Muslim, 20% is Christian. Density is at 18 inhabitants per Km², and literacy rate barely reaches 29% of the population, one of the lowest in Africa.

On a Political point on view, President Mohamed Bazoum was elected in February 2021 and invested on April 2, 2021. His political party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, has a majority in the National Assembly, 79 deputies out of 171. The President has placed education, in particular, education of young girls, at the heart of his priorities. His government adopted its General Policy Declaration on May 13, 2021 around 7 main axes among which social security and tranquility arrive in first place.

On an Economical point of view, to deal with the crisis (which has affected the service and extractive industries), the Nigerien government has adopted a plan of 597 billion CFA Francs (7.4% of GDP) to help households and businesses. The most vulnerable households have benefited from monetary assistance and the suspension of electricity bills.

These large plans pushed the budget deficit to increase to 5.7% of GDP in 2020, due to the increase in health spending in contrast with the decline of tax revenues. Budget deficit is expected to decline to 4.4% of GDP in 2021 and 3.5% of GDP in 2022 (remaining above the WAEMU target of 3%.

Public debt rose from 39.8% of GDP in 2019 to 44.2% of GDP in 2020 because of the pandemic, Niger’s debt distress has thus been placed at a moderate risk. Debt distress is expected to remain at this level in 2021 (44.5%) before falling to 42% of GDP in 2022 (IMF).

From a deflation of -2.5% in 2019, inflation rose to 2.8% in 2020, due to supply chain disruptions. The IMF’s forecasts set inflation at 0.4% in 2021 with a rise to 2% in 2022, remaining below the ECOWAS convergence criterion of 10%.

Economic Indicators201920202021e2022e 2023e
GDP ($ Billion current price)230.87205.46225.86231.69246.72
GDP growth (%)2.2-
Inflation rate (%)
Public debt (% GDP)
Current balance (% GDP)-

Focus on Exports and Imports

In 2019, Niger was the number 132nd economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the 167th exporter in the world and 179th importer in the world. The country exported USD 852 Million and imported USD 1.55 Billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 698 000.

The top exports of Niger are Gold ($457M), Other Oily Seeds ($214M), Radioactive Chemicals ($59.6M), Petroleum Gas ($42.5M) and Refined Petroleum ($19.2M). Niger exports mostly to United Arab Emirates ($459M), China ($209M), France ($57.3M), Pakistan ($42.5M), and Burkina Faso ($20M).

The top imports are Rice ($66.4M), Packaged Medicaments ($64.8M), Palm Oil ($62.8M), Cars ($54.6M) and Cement ($44.1M). It imports mostly from China ($289M), France ($141M), United Arab Emirates ($107M), Cote d’Ivoire ($95.9M) and India ($85.5M).


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