Nigeriens protest French atomic deal

AFP-JIJI

Up to 1,000 demonstrators marched in the Niger capital of Niamey on Saturday to protest their country’s “unbalanced” partnership with nuclear firm Areva as the French giant negotiates a new uranium mining agreement with the government.

Areva’s contract to extract uranium in the West African country will expire on Dec. 31, after more than four decades of mining at two sites on the southern edge of the Sahara, with a third under development.

The French group and the Niger government are locked in talks to renegotiate the terms for a further 10 years, and Niamey has been pressing for a greater share of revenue from Areva’s activities.

Ali Idrissa from transparency watchdog Rotab, which organized Saturday’s rally, said the contracts between Areva and Niger were “all unbalanced,” noting that the uranium sector accounts for 70 percent of Niger’s exports but only represents 5 percent of its gross domestic product. “In France, 35 light bulbs out of 100 are lit thanks to our uranium, while Niger has to use firewood for light,” he said.