Areva Areva!

Friday, 28 February, 2014

Another slant on the Areva standoff in Niger. We’re flogging this one to death but it's an interesting bit of qualitative reporting rather than the factual roundups of previous linked articles. As the issue drags on and another deadline approaches by which Areva (87% French-state-owned) and the government of Niger must agree a contract and taxation approach regarding uranium operations at Arlit, the Nigerien public are taking an increasing stake in the issue.

This piece from African Arguments opens with a quote form Boubacar Soumane, communications manager for EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) Niger: ”We’re seeing a real awakening of people’s consciousness on this issue; something is happening.”  

The article rounds up a range of insight into the repeated news pieces on ongoing public demonstrations. “People are looking around themselves and asking why there is such poverty,” it reports Solli Ramatou, co-ordinator of the civil society network GREN (Research Group on Extractives in Niger), as saying: “They’re starting to question why another country’s electricity generation is reliant upon us, yet most people here don’t even have electricity!”

This has implications beyond the current situation. Domestic public coverage is mushrooming, in newspaper editorials, poster campaigns, press publicity and the demonstrations. “It seems,” says the article, “that an increase in transparency awareness campaigning has hit a rich vein of public resentment as more foreign companies have arrived in recent years to exploit Niger’s resources; the connection has been made in people’s minds about the promise of wealth from production of oil, coal, gold, tin and uranium, and the obvious lack of development they see in their everyday lives.”

The article elaborates on this and is well worth a read - among other things it touches on:

- Niger’s oil industry and Chinese exploitation of resources as another exemplum a case in point: resources and wealth leave but locals don’t benefit

- Ongoing related arguments over fuel prices

- Fuel smuggling via Nigeria

- A brief overview of Niger’s resources situation and its likely impact on the outlook for national development 

- An outlook for the Areva standoff, and what this means for Nigerien extractives deals in the future.