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Cablegate: Niger: Pol/Econ Update for January 2010

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UNCLAS NIAMEY 000092

DEPT FOR AF/W AND AF/RSA
ACCRA ALSO FOR AF/WA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/W

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ELAB EFIN PTER ENRG EPET SOCI NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Pol/Econ Update for January 2010

1. The following is an Embassy Niger compilation of political and
economic highlights for January 2010 not otherwise covered in
mission reporting. This report covers the following issues:

-- National Assembly passes anti-terrorism financing legislation;

-- GON changes civil service employee work hours;

-- Niger purchases diesel-powered generators;

-- Construction begins on oil pipeline; and

-- Five Nigerien citizens killed in Jos, Nigeria.

Anti-Terrorism Financing Legislation
------------------------------------
2. Before the closure of the January 12 session, National Assembly
deputies passed legislation to implement recommendations of the
Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GAIBA). GIABA
is the regional organization established to coordinate the fight
against money laundering and terrorism financing within the West
African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The new legislation
brings Niger into conformance with regional standards by
criminalizing money laundering and/or financing of terrorist
organizations.

Construction Commences on Oil Pipeline
--------------------------------------
3. Construction work on the oil pipeline expected to link the oil
wells of the Agadem bloc to the refinery currently under
construction in Zinder commenced on January 21. The ceremony took
place in the presence of the Adviser to the President for Energy and
Mining Issues, the representative of the Minister of Environment and
Anti-Desertification, and some prefects.

GON Reinstates Traditional Civil Service Working Hours
--------------------------------------------- ---------
4. Effective in late January, the GON reinstated traditional working
hours for civil servants, including a two and a half-hour midday
break. Niger had been operating on a unified day schedule for
several years, and the unanticipated decision to return to
traditional hours threatens the survival of small restaurants and
food stalls established to cater to workers with a short lunch hour.
GON sources claimed the return to the traditional schedule was
motivated by high levels of absenteeism among public sector workers,
and President Tandja announced that periodic spot checks would be
made to ensure that workers remained on the job throughout the work
day. Opposition and union members protested, claiming that the
decision was designed to cut GON costs. The new schedule means
workers will start at 7:30 a.m., have a break from 12:30 to 3:00
p.m., and work from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., in a working rhythm common to
many former French colonies in Africa.

Niger Purchases Power Generators
--------------------------------
5. Niger has spent $20 million on new diesel-powered generators to
improve electricity supplies to each of the country's eight regions.
Increased local generating capacity will reduce reliance on power
imported from Nigeria, which currently provides 90 percent of
Niger's electricity. NIGELEC, Niger's state power company, used a
$20 million loan from India's Ex-Im Bank to buy eight new
generators, adding over 27 megawatts of power production capacity to
the country. The loan deals were signed in late 2008. Niamey has
received the biggest boost, with an extra 15 megawatts of power
generating capacity. The GON reviewed power policies after a series
of power cuts in mid-2008 left residents in the dark, with power
available only to the GON, armed forces, and hospitals. According
to the GON, the new generators will supply electricity to 70 percent
of Niamey.

Five Nigeriens Killed in Sectarian Clashes in Jos
--------------------------------------------- ----
6. In late January, five Nigeriens were among hundreds of victims
killed by sectarian violence in Jos, the capital of Nigeria's
central Plateau State. According to the GON, two Nigeriens were
wounded in the fracas, 33 houses belonging to Nigeriens were
destroyed, and some 495 Nigeriens fled Jos and are now back in
Niger. A large number of Nigeriens live in Nigeria, and both people
and livestock move freely across the 1,500 kilometres of largely
open frontier between the two countries.

WHITAKER

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