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Niger has concluded preliminary studies for the implementation of power projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide, according to Niger’s secretary general in the Ministry of Energy Balla Mahaman Rabiou

According to Rabiou, the government has embarked on an aggressive plan, to increase access to power for its predominantly youthful population from currently over 16% to 80% by 2035. Of particular focus, are Niger’s rural areas which have power access levels of less than 5%. Many of the power projects envisaged, are expected to be solar mini-grids, taking advantage of Niger’s abundance of sunlight throughout the year. The recently created Agency for the promotion of rural electrification is at the forefront of this effort.

During its working visit to Niger from 23-27 November, the African Energy Chamber pledged to support the government’s initiatives to attract much needed investment into the country. “Niger has embarked on a path we passionately support, to drastically increase access to reliable and affordable electricity for its youthful population,” said Verner Ayukegba, senior vice-president with the African Energy Chamber.

There has always been a drive to increase access in Electricity in Niger, supported by donor partners like Power Africa, USAID and the European Union. However, the government’s new plans rely significantly on its own revenues, expected from increased oil production in Niger. Production is scheduled to increase from currently 20,000 bpd currently to 120,000 bpd in 2024. This increase shall be made possible, with the completion of the 1950Km Niger-Benin oil pipeline to be built by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

The pipeline will transport crude to the global markets via the port of Seme in Benin from Niger's prolific Agadem basin. The pipeline has therefore become a symbol of hope, upon which several major development projects depend. Growth rates overall in Niger are expected to reach double digits, for the decade after the completion of the pipeline in 2024.

Following Petroleum Minister Foumakoye Gado’s role in securing the construction of the all-important pipeline, he was named by the African Energy Chamber as one of the top 25 leaders in the African Energy Sector to watch. Minister Gado’s success in facilitating the deal has significantly de-risked exploration in Niger in particular and the Sahel in general.

The pipeline also symbolises the likelihood of even greater exploration in Niger. British minor, Savannah Energy is leading the way with five discoveries from five exploration wells drilled and a combined estimate of 6.7 bbo initially in Place in its two licenses. Several other companies are currently negotiating with the government to secure exploration licenses in Niger. Niger’s success is being closely watched by oil companies who in the past have paid less attention to the search for hydrocarbons in the Sahel. This is likely to change, with the successful completion of the pipeline.