In an Interview with Envoy Excellency, H.E. Mr Ado Leko, Ambassador of Niger to India

Niger 61st year of the Republic Day Celebration is put under the theme:

‘’Peace, Youth, Security and Development’’

High level visits between Niger and India?

Over the last years there have many high levels visits between Niger and India:

In October 2015, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Niger visited India, accompanied by a strong ministerial delegation during the India-Africa Forum Summit, in New Delhi, India;

In March 2018, H.E. the President of the Republic of Niger visited India during the International Solar Alliance launching Summit during which he met the Honourable President of India, Ram Nath Kovind and had a bilateral meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

More recently a bilateral meeting took place between the President of Niger and the Honourable Prime Minister of India in the margin of the General Assembly of UN in New York in September 2019.

Tell us about the preparations for the Republic Day celebration in Niger this year?

The celebration of the Republic Day has always been a grandiose event in Niger. The celebration rotative and hosted every year by one the 8 regions and the Capital city of Niamey. The festivities are preceded by the construction of huge infrastructure in the region hosting the event. This year the region of Tillabéri has the honour of hosting the Republic day celebration. This 61st year of the Republic Day Celebration is put under the theme: ‘’Peace, Youth, Security and Development’’.

Niger citizens are eligible for scholarships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations? What can be done to better this scheme?

Niger citizens are eligible for scholarships under the ITEC and ICCR programmes as well as in the security sector. Huge number of Nigerien students attends these programmes in many subjects every year. This witnesses the highest esteem of Nigeriens to the quality of Indian Education system.

What are the major challenges, opportunities and growth avenues for bilateral trade between India and Niger?

Niger, as a land-link West African country, was and is still not very well known to the Indian businesses. But much has changed over the last years with the opening of diplomatic Missions, the Indian Embassy opened in Niamey, the capital city of Niger in 2009 and the Nigerien Embassy in New Delhi in 2011. Since then many exchanges are taking place in all the socio-political, economic and cultural fields.

There are very bright days ahead of businesses for both countries. Niger is the land of tremendous untapped natural resources that can benefit of the Indian technological advance and Indian can tap into Niger resources to satisfy the need of its rapid growth. There is therefore a need to focus a strong political will to foster the bilateral relation through the signing of MoU in many socio-economic fields in order to boost, not only the easy flow of businesses but also people to people contact.

Please identify key sectors with investment opportunities in Niger?

Niger presents a lot of opportunities of investment. Currently, the Nigerien Government has undertaken an ambitious programme of infrastructure development. Among the infrastructure are the renovation of the countries two biggest international airports (Niamey and Agadez). Another big infrastructure development project is the implementation of the railway loop Cotounou-Niamey-Ouagadougou. Infrastructure development also includes the project of the construction of the dry port of Dosso that will enable the country to have its own port without seashore.

Infrastructure projects also include the building and maintenance of hotels, roads, bridges, agriculture and energy infrastructure, namely solar.

What are the key objectives to stimulate better cooperation and partnership between India and Niger?

The main objectives of stimulating cooperation and partnership between Niger and India is first and foremost to share experiences and contribute to the development of both countries in the benefit of our two peoples. This will be achieved by opening up the two countries for the businesses of both sides and people to people contact between the citizens of the two countries.

Tell us something about Niger tourism and opportunities?

Niger is the land of the Great African Empires such as the Songhai, Kanem Bornou, Haussa States, etc., historical powerful and flourishing ensembles that witnessed high level development and used to be a commercial hub for caravans that carried salt, gold, ivory, cola nuts, fabrics, etc… from the southern coast of Africa to Northern Africa regions.

The southern strip of Niger contains typical architectural works, important archaeological sites fully preserved and traditional chiefdoms that have remained as influential as the rites and festivities of which they are the custodians, have remained perennial and very popular with tourists.

A link between the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa, situated at a 5-hour flight from Europe, Niger has an exceptionally attractive tourist destinations due to its richness and diversity.

The Sahara Desert occupies more than 2/3 of the area of this vast country which hinges between North and South of Africa. The famous Ténéré desert in the North of the country and the Tal Desert in the far North-east,the Niger Valley that crosses the country in its western part on 550 km, with major attractions around Niamey, the Capital city such as the W Park, the last giraffes in the region, the populations of hippos of the Ayorou area and the countless islands of the river valley that offer a rare ornithological diversity.

The W Park, located 150 km south of Niamey, stretches over a laterite carapace across streams bordered by forest galleries. This complex is an exceptional heritage, the last refuge in West Africa of herds of antelopes, elephants, buffaloes, large emblematic mammals that characterized the continent less than a century ago. This biosphere is listed under UNESCO World Heritage.

The Saharan Sahel country of West Africa, Niger, has important sites on rock art including the Djado Centre, the A’fr station, the Termit site, the Niger River region. These different sites present rich arts that carry messages and witnesses from the past.

How have the relations between the two countries benefitted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in India?

The India’s recent economic boom has focused the world’s attention to the subcontinent-country. Like many other countries, Niger has not only established partnership relations with India, but also is constantly seeking to strengthen those relations and to extend them to cover new sectors. And today, the cooperation between the two countries covers almost all sectors of the economic life of the two countries.

What can be done to attract more Indian professionals and business houses to Niger?

Nowadays there are many Indian businesses and professionals in Niger. This trend can be encouraged by the signature of Joint Commission between the two countries and consultation act between their two Ministries of Foreign Affairs, which will definitely formalize the cooperation framework in all the domains and allows business flow from both sides.

How is Niger contributing to India’s Pan-African e-Network project?

One of Niger’s objectives for sustainable development is training and capacity building to skill the nation and thus, create a skilled workforce, key to any grassroots development. In that regard, the India’s Pana-Africa e-Network project is of capital importance to Niger. This explains the keen interest of Nigerien authorities, who have been partners to the Phase 1 of that programme.

Presently, they have already identified two Universities to host Phase 2 of the Pan-Africa e-Network project. That project will undoubtedly contribute to the training and the capacity building of Niger citizens, less cost and while staying in the country itself.

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