Foreign policy and defense
Niger has, since independence in 1960,
basically had good relations with the former colonial
power of France, which is the country's largest donor
and trading partner. Relations with other EU countries
as well as the US are generally good.
Relations with the West temporarily deteriorated in
2009 when then-President Tandja tried to bypass the
Constitution to remain in power. The EU and the US froze
parts of their assistance to Niger, which resumed after
Tandja was deposed in a coup in 2010. In the context of
the political crisis, Niger was suspended from the
regional cooperation organizations Ecowas and the
African Union (AU). When the situation was normalized,
the shutdowns were lifted.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Niger for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
For the United States, Niger has become more
important since militant Islamists began operating in
the region. Since the northern part of neighboring Mali
was occupied by radical Islamists with links to the
terrorist network al-Qaeda, the Nigerian government in
2013 agreed to allow the United States to station
driverless aircraft, so-called drones, in Niger to
monitor the activities of Islamist groups. Hundreds of
American soldiers were also stationed in the country to
analyze the information gathered by the drones and to
share it with the French and African forces fighting
Islamist militia in Mali.
France has also built a base for surveillance,
located in the north near the border with Libya. French
companies have strong interests in the country's mining
industry and France is therefore particularly interested
in the country remaining stable.
China has gained greater influence in Niger in recent
years. The countries have signed agreements on economic
and technical cooperation, trade has grown and China has
made major investments in uranium mining in the country.
China has also been given the right to drill for oil and
build a refinery.
Economic cooperation with Nigeria is important. A
large part of official agricultural exports goes to
neighboring countries, while large quantities of goods
are smuggled across the border in both directions.
Niger's largest ethnic group, Hausa, has close ties to
the Hausa population in Nigeria.
Niger's relations with neighboring Benin in the south
have been strained at times due to a dispute over 25
islands in the Niger River. The dispute was settled by
the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2005:
16 islands went to Niger and 9 to Benin. A border
dispute with Burkina Faso has also been settled.
Niger's ties to Libya have been strong, for example
large Libyan investments have been made in Niger. The
countries have also worked together to maintain security
at the common border. The fall of the Gaddafi regime in
Libya in 2011 was seen in Niger as a threat to the
country's stability, partly because a couple of hundreds
of Nigerian guest workers returned at risk of social
unrest, and partly because hundreds of Tuareg warriors
who had been sold at Gaddafi also returned and were
feared to start a new uprising.
Niger has initiated several collaborations with
neighboring countries to prevent terrorism, smuggling
and organized crime in the region. In the spring of
2010, Niger, together with Mauritania, Mali and Algeria,
formed a joint liaison center to counter the growing
network of al-Qaeda's terrorist network. The idea was,
among other things, to try to prevent terrorists from
seeking protection by moving across borders.
Together with Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali and
Chad, Niger in 2014 formed an organization named G5
Sahel. Its purpose is to strengthen cooperation on
development and security in the Sahel region. The
headquarters were located in Mauritania's capital
Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are also
cooperating more specifically with the support of France
and the United States to curb the brutal Islamist
movement Boko Haram, which has Nigeria as its base but
is also carrying out attacks in neighboring countries.
Niger has among other things sent a troop force to
Niger is a member of several regional partnerships.
In addition to Ecowas and AU, Niger belongs to the
cooperation body Conseil de l'entente (young: Council of
Consensus), which the country formed in 1959 together
with Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Togo. The
Conseil de l'entente is fighting illegal arms
trafficking, trafficking in children and banditry
against travelers. Similar agreements have been signed
with Mali. Niger is also a member of the French-speaking
countries' Organization (Organization Internationale de
la Francophonie) and in the West African Economic
Cooperation Uemoa (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest
The military's role has remained great even after
democratization in the early 1990s, and on three
occasions the military has seen itself take power (see
Modern History). Minor protest actions and myths have
also occurred due to dissatisfaction with missing wages
and poor living conditions.
The army that lacks sufficient equipment receives
assistance and support from France, China and the United
States. Niger has contributed troops to the UN
peacekeeping forces including Mali, Congo-Kinshasa and
the Central African Republic. Nine Nigerian soldiers
lost their lives in an attack in northern Mali in 2014.
FACTS - DEFENSE
5,200 men (2017)
The air Force
100 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
2.7 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
8.8 percent (2017)