Evening atmosphere on the Niger River
In this article, we would like to give you a brief insight into the Republic of Niger. We report on special features, the current economic situation and what Africa GreenTec can achieve in the country. As a little special, our colleague Mahamadou gives you some interesting insider information.
Since we began transforming numerous villages in Mali into ImpactSites thanks to our holistic solutions, we have also been looking around for new opportunities in neighbouring countries. Very often, people from African countries write to us asking us to electrify villages in their country too. We are now receiving more and more messages from governments and authorities themselves who want us to help their rural populations achieve greater self-determination and growth through electricity.
This is what happened in Niger and we were able to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government in which we agreed to electrify 50 villages.
We are now focussing all our efforts on examining and evaluating suitable villages. Above all, we are looking for partners, investors and institutions that will support us in financing the projects and participate in our sustainable business model.
Our team in conversation with the villagers
We were welcomed with open arms
The Republic of Niger is home to almost 23 million inhabitants in an area roughly three times the size of Germany. In addition to the capital Niamey with around 1 million inhabitants, there are a handful of larger cities and 80% of the population live in rural areas.
The official language is French and the majority of the population is Muslim. The country is characterized by a savannah and desert landscape with small mountains and oases. The Niger River, after which the country is named, flows through the relatively densely populated south-west.
Through the electrification of villages, including the provision of water and cold chains, people in rural areas can achieve better and more sustainable crop yields and higher incomes, develop their structures and thus live more self-determined lives.
Since independence from France in 1960, Niger's population has grown from 3.2 million to 23.3 million people. Almost half of all people living in Niger today are under the age of 16. At 15.2 years, the country had the youngest median age in the world in 2012. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (bmz) aptly describes the major challenges this poses:
Sustainable development progress is made massively more difficult by the extremely high population growth of just under four per cent per year: economic successes are not sufficient to offer the growing young population adequate prospects for the future. Every year, around 400,000 additional young people need to be provided with work, services and food.
The structures in the country have not been able to keep up with the rapid growth, which is why Niger ranks last out of the 189 countries listed on the current United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI index analyses the education, income and life expectancy/health of the population together.
The disadvantages are particularly serious for the non-urban population, whose existence is constantly threatened by natural disasters and food shortages. Droughts, erosion and over-utilised soils also cause major problems for agriculture. Climate change and unsustainable farming methods are having an impact:
Education is an important foundation for a self-determined life
Most hospital wards are medically inadequately equipped
The young and motivated population in combination with a functioning and committed government also offers incredible opportunities. If the people in rural areas are given the foundations to develop themselves and their village, they will seize them with great enthusiasm. We at Africa GreenTec also pursue this approach. We meet the local people at eye level and sense their drive. We are therefore confident that, together with you and the authorities, our electricity, water, cooling and internet solutions can create the conditions that will enable them and future generations to lead a better life.
Even though only around 15 % of the country's land area can be used for agriculture, this is sufficient for such a large country that agriculture is the largest economic sector in terms of GDP, accounting for almost 42 %. The main crops are millet, beans and peanuts. Vegetables, henna, tobacco and capsicum are other important sources of income alongside livestock.
Mining is another major economic sector thanks to the country's rich mineral resources. Uranium is at the top of the list, followed by oil, coal, gold, iron, nickel, copper and phosphate. The often uncontrolled mining leads to environmental damage in the surrounding area.
Agriculture as well as micro-enterprises and production very often only serve to cover personal needs and do not contribute to the income of the communities and the country. In most cases, there is a lack of the prerequisites to be able to operate effectively, which means that farms and farmers are unable to develop and build up structures.
Here too, Africa GreenTec directly addresses the problems. With electricity, water and cooling, farmers and entrepreneurs can work more efficiently, expand their business, create work for the young population and thus give themselves and their village a more self-determined future. Our products and concepts can be adapted to the circumstances of each village to maximize their impact.
At the same time, the low cloud cover and many hours of sunshine provide the perfect conditions for solar power generation. Water pumps and cooling facilities powered by solar energy help farmers to grow, store and sell their produce even in dry and hot areas. This is where Africa GreenTec comes in - with technologies that make it possible to better deal with the consequences of climate change and provide clean energy through solar technology.
The most widespread sport is football. A ball and enough players can be found all over the world and in Niger, too, football is played in all towns and villages and is enjoyed by young and old alike. In addition to football, the "Lutte traditionnelle" is particularly well known in the media. This is a type of wrestling match in which individual fighters from different villages compete against each other and are accompanied by musicians and griots. Camel races in the deserts of the Agadez and Tahoua regions and horse races are also popular and school sports include table tennis, volleyball and basketball.
No one can talk about the everyday life of people in Niger as authentically as someone who grew up and was born there, such as our colleague Mahamadou:
People in Niger love to share and always think about their fellow human beings. Our motto in life: what is enough for one person is also enough for five! We also love lamb. Sometimes so much that we have it for breakfast. We are very spontaneous. Although almost everyone has a phone, nobody calls before they visit someone. You just pop round to their house or work and hope they're there. One of the things we don't like is that Niger is very often confused with Nigeria. Of course, we don't hold this against anyone for long, as we are not vindictive people and the names are really very similar. Nevertheless, they are two completely different countries with different cultures.
If you would like to find out more about Niger and, above all, learn more about the country's history and population groups, we recommend the following websites: