Niger Country Report
President Issoufou has confirmed he will not stand for re-election in 2021 or amend the constitution. Despite protests over tax increases and high living costs, he remains powerful and enjoys Western support. Falling commodity prices have dented the economy, with defence spending rising due to escalating jihadist attacks in the north, centre, west, and southeast. Kidnap risks are high in these areas, while the capital, Niamey, remains an aspirational target for jihadists. The interior minister has accused the main opposition party of trying to stage a popular uprising and its exiled leader has been stripped of his parliamentary seat. A specialised commercial court operating since 2016 has improved the investment climate. Falling uranium prices are driving diversification of theeconomy, including investment in agriculture, hydrocarbons, energy, and services.
Niger's main operational obstacles include limited institutional capacity, inadequate infrastructure, lack of skilled labour, strikes, corruption, and Islamist militancy. President Issoufou has pledged to boost the private sector and Niger attracted a delegation of European investors in July 2018. He also wants to improve electricity provision and decrease dependency on Nigeria, currently supplying 60% of Niger's needs. The country is landlocked with only small sections of the River Niger navigable, although Niger and Benin have agreed that China will proceed with work on the stalled railway project between Niamey and Cotonou that will eventually link up with Côte d'Ivoire.
Mali-based Islamist militants are likely to attempt an attack in the capital, Niamey, targeting venues patronised by Westerners. The western Tahoua and Tillaberi regions are new terrorist hotspots. Kidnap risks are high around Agadez and along the borders with Mali and Libya. Jihadist targets in Niger are likely to include transport hubs, mining sites, security forces, diplomatic assets, major hotels, and government buildings, although risks will be mitigated by a US drone facility in Agadez scheduled for completion in late 2018. Boko Haram attacks are likely along the country's southeastern border with Nigeria and Chad.
Anti-austerity protests have led the government to accuse the opposition of trying to mount a popular uprising, although strong responses by the security forces mean demonstrations are likely to be quickly dispersed. Close regional relations and the establishment of a regional counter-terrorism force to fight jihadist forces in the Sahel lower the risk of interstate war. Interstate border incursions are likely due to the continuing insecurity in Libya, Mali, and the Lake Chad region. Disputes with neighbours are more likely to be resolved through arbitration than military confrontations.
Violent protests over tax increases in the 2018 finance law led to a ban on demonstrations in Niamey, with several arrested for defying the order. Nevertheless, protests over the high cost of living, perceived corruption, insecurity, and lay-offs in the uranium industry are likely to occur in Niamey, Agadez, Arlit, and Zinder. Protesters are likely to use stones, petrol bombs, and blunt objects to target government and commercial property and parked vehicles. Security forces often use heavy-handed responses, including live bullets.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over one year of age entering the country. The government of Niger recommends vaccine for travelers departing Niger.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The country, including Niamey, is regularly hit by significant rainfall in the summer, often causing floods. In June 2017, torrential rains caused severe infrastructural damage in Niamey and resulted in several deaths.
Road infrastructure is reliable in Niger. Major cities are connected by paved roads.
However, long-distance road travel can be extremely dangerous. The danger of road accidents is heightened by drivers often ignoring the rules of the road, the non-maintenance of vehicles, and the lack of medical care facilities. Due to the lack of public lighting all night travel should be avoided.
Outside major cities, all travel should be conducted during the day, with a sports utility vehicle (4x4), adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. It is also advised to ensure that the vehicle contains spare mechanical parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and an effective means of telecommunication.
According to the British diplomatic authorities, the Niamey-Ouagadougou road is mined on the Burkinabe section. Further information should be sought before using this route.
Local authorities may be particularly suspicious of foreigners traveling in the east and north. Passengers are frequently arrested and deported due to security fears. It may be necessary to hire an armed escort (contact the Nigerien authorities) when traveling outside Niamey.
It is advised to stop at all road blocks erected by security forces.
Niger's rainy season lasts from June until September. It is characterized by very high temperatures and humidity levels as well as weak to non-existent winds. The rest of the year temperatures average around 30°C from October to February and around 40°C from March to May. Sandstorms sometimes occur in the months of April and May.
There are no emergency services in Niger.
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