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“The G5 Sahel has lead in the wing”

Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum at the presidential palace in Niamey on October 6, 2021.

Mohamed Bazoum was invested a year ago, on April 2, 2021, as President of Niger. In an interview given in Niamey, TV5Monde and Worldpartners of the weekly program “Internationales”, the Head of State assumes ” without complexes ” the security partnership with France.

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, says she fears that “the war in Ukraine means hunger in Africa”. In Niger, are you feeling the impact of this crisis?

There is a backlash, an increase in food prices. Russia and Ukraine are major wheat exporters. In addition, the increase in the price of energy results in that of transport, and Niger is a landlocked country, far from the sea. In the context of a year with a rainfall deficit, we have estimated that 3.5 million people will be in a situation of relatively serious food insecurity.

Is this the failure of the “3N initiative”, “Niger feeds Nigeriens”, launched ten years ago?

This is proof of relative inefficiency. We never said we had the ambition to eliminate the food deficit. We do not have enough resources to radically change the mode of agricultural production. But without the 3N initiative, the deficit would be even greater.

Read also: “In Niger, many children suffer from acute malnutrition”

Does this mean that Niger will never be food independent?

It will be because it has great potential. Among the countries of the Sahel, we have the largest underground water reserves accessible with means that are no longer out of reach. Renewable energies are becoming cheaper and the country has plenty of arable land.

You hope to win this race against time when Niger, because of its demographics (2 million inhabitants in 1960, 23 million today), must constantly feed more people…

Absoutely. Demography is the big challenge. Regardless of our economic performance or the relevance of our actions, as long as we have unbridled population growth, our efforts will seem in vain. This question is no longer taboo.

Hundreds of schools have closed under pressure from armed groups. How to allow education when there is no security?

We must eradicate insecurity. In the meantime, we must save the schooling of children whose schools have been forcibly closed thanks to the creation of regrouping centers for schools in the affected villages, the reconciliation of communities with each other, the return of displaced villagers… our border with Burkina Faso, we have a lot more problems. Terrorists deliberately attack schools for ideological reasons and make it a point of honor to ensure that they cannot continue to function. There, we are creating a military balance of power which should allow us to secure the villages and reopen the schools.

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