Niger’s citizens march for justice and a fair deal

Source: PWYP International
Date: 28 Mar 2022

For immediate release

This Saturday, 50 associations, civil society organisations and groups – including ROTAB, the Publish What You Pay coalition in Niger – will march in Niamey to call for Niger to get a fair deal for its resources.  More specifically, demonstrators are calling for AREVA and the Niger government to respect the country’s 2006 mining code in the new uranium contracts being negotiated by the two parties.

Niger’s citizens have been mobilising for months over these contract negotiations. There were marches in January and February, and a couple of weeks ago thousands of students mobilised to denounce the opacity that surrounds the negotiation process. Even Niger’s artists have been getting involved, as reggae singer Black Mailer took to the stage at the protest in February and in his song   condemned unfair contracts and the unjust exploitation of minerals by multinationals in poor countries.

“Until the mining code of 2006 is respected by AREVA and the government, we will be in the streets calling for fiscal justice. Uranium belongs to the people and the people’s law must apply”, said Ali Idrissa, National Coordinator for PWYP Niger, “We are simply asking that AREVA respects our laws.”

The negotiations between AREVA and Niger over uranium exploitation contracts have been dragging on for months, as AREVA refuses to budge on its position and insists that the 2006 mining code – which reduces exemptions and increases taxes – should not apply to its operations. The government, for its part, is seeking to redress a 50 year-old imbalance and has been negotiating for a fairer deal for its resources.

“These negotiations are an opportunity for Niger to finally get a fair deal for its resources. AREVA must not deny Niger this chance and needs to respect the country’s laws” said Marinke van Riet, International Director for Publish What You Pay.  

Rumours are circulating that the contracts are about to be signed, but whether the mining code has been upheld is still a mystery. “Our fear is that AREVA is negotiating a range of exemptions to the 2006 mining code, so that the company can claim to publicly accept the code but in reality not pay its fair share in taxes”, said Anne-Sophie Simpere, coordinator for PWYP France and Advocacy Officer for Oxfam France.

If we take VAT tax exemptions alone, the Niger government is losing out on 10 – 15 million euros a year, according to figures from Oxfam France.

“Resource-rich countries are constantly told to put their affairs in order and improve their natural resource governance. Niger’s 2010 constitution has specific provisions for contract transparency and ensuring that revenues go to the benefit of all citizens. But how can these reforms help when extractive companies feel they have the right to simply ignore our laws and our mining codes?” said Mr. Idrissa.

Media contacts

In London – Alice Powell, (English/French), Communications Coordinator of Publish What You Pay; Tel + 44 7789 281 549, Email: [email protected]

In Niamey - Ali Idrissa (Francophone), National Coordinator of PWYP Niger/ROTAB ; 

Tel + 227 90 50 70 32; Email: [email protected]

 

Notes

Publish What You Pay is a global coalition made up of more than 800 civil society organisations, united in their call for an open and accountable extractive sector so that citizens can benefit from their natural resources.

www.publishwhatyoupay.org