- Economic growth slowed to 3.6% in 2015 (down from 7.0% in 2014) because of weather problems and the steady fall in world prices of uranium and oil, but is forecast to pick up again in 2016 (projected at 5.0%) and 2017 (at 5.5%).
- The Boko Haram rebels, their effect on trade and managing the flow of refugees continue to be a major economic, security, social and budgetary challenge.
- Only 16.2% of the population is urban, but this group is growing fast (at an average 4% a year) and faces poor housing, water and electricity supplies and other services for businesses and households.
Niger’s economic growth eased to 3.6% in 2015 from 7.0% in 2014 due to weather problems, less activity in the Diffa area (affected by the fight against the Boko Haram rebels) and the drop in uranium prices. Agriculture continues to drive the economy, and as it is mostly rain-fed, it is very much at the mercy of climate-related shocks. Economic prospects are quite good, mainly because of the expected expansion of extractive industries and more investment in agriculture and transport. Growth is projected to improve to 5.0% in 2016 and 5.5% in 2017.
Security and humanitarian problems due to increased attacks by Boko Haram rebels undermined budget execution and could slow planned reforms and major development under the 2012-15 economic and social development programme (PDES) and its successor. The sharp rise in spending on national security increased current expenditure in the budget. Continued spending on infrastructure for development in remote areas is important to reduce the vulnerability that feeds extremism there.
Niger is a vast landlocked country of 1 267 000 km² with only 16.2% of the population living in towns and cities in 2012, slightly up from 15.2% in 1988. The urban population’s average annual growth rate of 4% means the number of urban dwellers will double over the next 15 years, but this growth has not been matched by expansion of infrastructure (housing, water, electricity and other services to business and households) and has led to great inequality in towns and cities. The main risk of current urban growth is the rise of unplanned neighbourhoods in urban and peri-urban areas. The government set up an institutional and legal framework for urban development (SNDU) in 2004 and gave it various means to operate, but these have been little used.