New Humanitarian Crisis: Power Outages Threaten Millions in Niger 

Power outages threaten millions in Niger 

Citizens in Niger are feeling the strain due to sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the military coup in the country. This has led to prolonged and continuous power outages.

In the capital city of Niamey and several other cities, people are struggling to cope with the constant and long-lasting power cuts. Streets and neighborhoods are plunged into darkness for hours, posing a threat of a humanitarian catastrophe in Niger. The power cuts have a negative impact on vital sectors in the country, according to the French news agency.

New Alternatives

The Nigerian newspaper “Business Day” confirmed that worsening load shedding and power outages in Niger since Nigeria disconnected the landlocked state from its electricity grid has pressured the government to seek alternatives. Under a bilateral agreement, Niger purchases 70% of its electricity from Nigeria to supplement its limited production.

In the aftermath of the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, the Economic Community of West African States imposed sanctions on the coup leaders. These sanctions included disconnecting their electricity lines from the Nigerian grid. Analysts suggest that this action may have unintended consequences.

It appears that Nigeria’s strategic decision to halt electricity supply is a form of energy leverage, similar to Russia cutting off gas supplies to Europe. Wole Isan, Deputy Managing Partner of Ulanion Ajayi, a leading law firm based in Lagos, stated, “In my view, this choice does not align with Nigeria’s enlightened self-interest.”

He added that it is misleading to think that Nigerian energy supplies to Niger were charitable. However, Nigeria did indeed deter Niger from building a dam on the Niger River. The concern is that if Niger proceeds with its Kandadji dam project, it may significantly reduce the water flow towards Nigeria’s river course, similar to the challenges posed by Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.

He continued, “The repercussions of cutting electricity to Niger are multifaceted. Nigeria has sent a strong message to Niger that it must seek energy independence. Unfortunately, this stance may expedite the Kandadji dam project in Niger, which could result in reduced water flow towards Nigeria’s river course.”

Difficult Life

The newspaper affirmed that life has become more challenging in Niger since Nigerian supply was cut off. Media reports in the country indicate that the military personnel in charge are under increasing pressure to rectify the energy situation. This will be a tough call, as Salifou Gado, an engineer, stated in a research paper published by the Knowledge Center affiliated with the Energy Charter Secretariat, a local research institution: “Niger has significant, rich, and diverse energy potential that is being underutilized.”

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