On November 13-14, Niger held a roundtable in Paris where it “secured pledges of $4.8 billion from international donors” including “South Africa, Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, the United States, Italy, Japan, Turkey and the Arab League.” These funds go to support Niger’s 2012-2015 Program for Economic and Social Development (PDES). Here at the blog I have been following the Nigerien government’s $2.5 billion, five-year Strategy for Development and Security (SDS), which is, as I understand the situation, a part (French) of PDES. While early news reports about the launch of SDS speculated that the Nigerien government might itself shoulder much of the financial burden for the program, commenter Ibrahim correctly predicted that external donors would ultimately provide the funds. The donations promised this week will allow Niger to push ahead with SDS and the larger PDES framework.
As Reuters hints, the donations reflect foreign powers’ concerns about the conflicts in Niger’s neighbors and the hopes that Niger, through political and financial outreach, can continue to prevent violent conflict within its own borders. You can read a speech on PDES by the European Union’s Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Crisis Response here. Meanwhile, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, looking beyond his borders, told attendees at the roundtable that “Only economic and social development will allow the Sahel region to eventually live in peace.”
To learn more about PDES, you can read this statement on the roundtable from the Nigerien government (French). As the statement explains, PDES comprises five pillars: rule of law; inclusive development; food security; and social development. I also recommend looking at the site for SDS (French). Finally, the World Bank recently held discussions in Niger on its Country Partnership Strategy, “a roadmap for engagement with the country over the next four years. The goal, according to organizers, was to solicit the views of Niger’s citizens in how best to support the country’s development agenda of faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth, as defined in [PDES].” You can read more about those meetings, and the World Bank’s approach, here.
What do you think? What are Niger’s prospects for success with these initiatives and development plans? Is Niger a model for the region?