- Niger has sealed US$ 5 billion deal with China's biggest oil and gas company for the development of oil reserves in country's eastern region. Impoverished Niger may start exporting oil already in 2009.
The three-year deal between the Nigerien government and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is to focus on development of the Agadem oil block, construction of a refinery with capacity of 20,000 barrels per day near the southern city of Zinder and a 2,000 kilometre pipeline to ship the oil to international markets.
Niger, which is troubled by rebels in the northern uranium zone, secured assistance from China in 2006 to tap its vast uranium wealth as one world's top producers of the mineral and its now set to compete with other oil producers following the new Chinese investment.
CNPC entered the oil and gas businesses in Niger in 2003, securing rights to develop several zones totalling 130,000 square kilometres, but a decision to actually exploit Niger's known oil resources had not be made until now, given the land-locked country's poor infrastructure.
For a country in which 85 percent of its population survives on less than US$ 2 a day, Niger's Mines and Energy Minister Mohamed Abdoulahi has described the deal as a "win-win" contract that would benefit people of China and Niger alike, with investors reaping the oil benefits and citizens jobs and revenues.
The Nigerien government on Monday gave its final approval to the deal with CNPC by signing a decree. The decision was made at a cabinet meeting presided over by President Mamadou Tandja, according to reports by the government media 'Agence Nigérienne de Presse' (ANP).
China's investment in Africa's oil has been under scrutiny for alleged human rights violations, with numerous human rights groups citing amongst others the Tibet issue, back at home, as well as working conditions at investment sites, especially in Sudan. CNPC is strongly advancing in Africa, being the biggest oil investor in Sudan and strongly present in Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.