Niger is one of the poorest states in the world: GDP in 2008 was US $ 5,379 million, while its GDP per capita was $ 391 US. Economic backwardness is the result above all of particularly adverse environmental conditions; the country is in fact isolated in the interior of the continent, without outlets and communications, with a territory largely made up of desert areas: over 75% of Niger receives less than 250 mm of rainfall per year. Added to this is the now centuries-old impoverishment of the Sahelian belt (actually common to many other tropical African states) with the relative shift, also favored by colonialism, of the population from N to S with the consequent abandonment and degradation of the central-northern regions. . French domination did little to boost the economy, given the country’s limited prospects; however, the cultivation of peanuts on a commercial scale was started in the extreme southern belt, where the main economic activities are concentrated, between Maradi, Zinder and Niamey. Not even with independence did the situation change significantly; the government continued to rely on aid and economic guidelines set by the French and to a large extent also by the United States: the rich Arlit uranium mines, discovered in 1966 and whose exploitation had begun five years later, were jointly managed by the Niamey government and by a French company (which actually had an absolute majority of the shares). At the beginning of the nineties, new crises linked to the irregularity of rainfall (too early and, in some southern districts, so violent as to uproot millet plants) risked jeopardizing the very survival of local populations, at the end of their resources and forced to sell the surviving sheep and goats. Fortunately, the situation subsequently improved thanks to heavy rains and returned to full capacity. However, due to the constant risk of drought, irrigation became the only organic solution, already pursued by the development plan of 1987-91 especially in the areas of the Niger river valley and along the border with Nigeria, in the region of N of the Arlit massif and in that of Bilma, but financial difficulties hindered the project of a large dam on Niger and ethnic divisions made it difficult to accept this fundamental innovation. In the last years of the century. XX the economic policy of Niger was directed towards a more marked autonomy in the international sphere, materialized in a growing loosening of the ties of dependence with France and in the establishment of closer commercial relations with various other countries, such as neighboring Nigeria, Algeria, China, etc. The strong role exercised by the state in the economic field, which however did not prevent the formation of a considerable number of small private companies, favored the birth of an extractive industry, state-owned enterprises in the construction, transport and food sectors. Despite this, Niger, in the first decade of the 2000s, was a country heavily dependent on international aid: the total cancellation of the foreign debt by the IMF in 2005 did not help to revive the precarious economy of this African state.
ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
The land area is naturally exploitable only in very small areas. The extreme southern belt is the only one that can be cultivated without irrigation and therefore is essentially destined for agriculture; the central Sahelian area is mainly used for breeding, however nomadic; finally the North, due to the almost total lack of rainfall, only allows crops to be grown in the oases: cereals, vegetables, date palms. Among the traditional cereal crops, millet and sorghum stand out; along the Niger rice cultivation has also been introduced with some success. Other basic food crops are cassava and sweet potato, as well as various vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, etc. The main commercial product, on the other hand, is made up of peanuts, which are clearly decreasing compared to the past; modest cotton growing is also practiced. § Livestock farming, although hampered by the scarcity of water, initiates meat and skins for export; sheep and goats predominate, followed by cattle and poultry. § The fishing, which is practiced in Lake Chad and along the Niger and Komadugu.
ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
According to allcountrylist, the industrial sector is underdeveloped, with modest and often obsolete systems. Plants for the creation of peanut oil and for the processing of cotton are active in the capital; there are also some tanneries, agri-food factories and, in Malora, an enlarged cement factory is active also thanks to investments by China. § In Niger the presence of various minerals such as iron, cassiterite, tin, tungsten, phosphates, coal and petroleum is ascertained, however only minimally exploited. International interests are in fact aimed at the exploitation of uranium deposits (since 1978 mines have also been excavated in Akuota), a mineral of which Niger is an important producer worldwide.