Today, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will visit Niger to discuss the implementation of EU development cooperation to the country and announce extra support. The Commissioner will also discuss regional security challenges and the envisaged €50 million of EU support to the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram. Just one week before the Valletta summit on Migration takes place (11-12 November), Commissioner Mimica will continue the dialogue on irregular migration that was launched by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini during her visit to Niger in September.
Commissioner Mimica will also sign an agreement to provide a €36 million budget support package that is aimed at mitigating the effects of the Government’s additional security and defence expenses (due to instability in the region) on essential sectors like health and education. It will also support the electoral process in 2016.
Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Mimica said: “The EU is a major political, humanitarian and development actor in Niger. We are using all our instruments to tackle the numerous challenges that this country has to face, such as food and nutrition insecurity, youth unemployment, regional instability. The new EU Trust Fund will enable us to deliver quickly to address roots causes of instability and irregular migration. Niger will be on the list of the first countries to benefit from the Trust Fund, with an initial package of €50 million.”
While in Niger, Commissioner Mimica will also visit projects around the city of Niamey, where he will see the results of the EU’s support to Niger’s food security, nutrition and resilience policies, which benefit from €180 million of EU funds provided for 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
During his visit, Commissioner Mimica will meet Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, as well as Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister, Aichatou Boulama, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Saidou Sidibe, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hassoumi Massaoudou, Minister of the Interior and Marou Amadou, Minister of Justice.
The EU is the biggest donor to Niger. Niger currently ranks last in the UNDP’s Human Development Index. The EU has allocated a package of €596 million to the country for the period 2014-2020, targeting social protection, food security and resilience, security, governance and consolidation of peace, road infrastructure and support to civil society.
Niger’s socioeconomic development is undermined by a population growth rate of 3.9% (for a population estimated to number 18 million), and an average fertility rate of 7.6 babies per woman. The population is expected to double in 18 years.
Food and nutrition insecurity is a major concern, with 3.6 million affected in 2015 and 1.3 million children under five expected to suffer from global acute malnutrition in 2015.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Commission.