Traveling Luck for Niger

Niger is located in Western Africa, southeast of Algeria.

Niger has borders with Burkina Faso for 628km, Benin for 266km, Algeria for 956km, Libya for 354km, Mali for 821km, Nigeria for 1497km and Chad for 1175km.

Land in Niger is predominately desert plains and sand dunes; flat to rolling plains in south; hills in north.

Nigerien land covers an area of 1267000 square kilometers which is slightly less than twice the size of Texas

As for the Nigerien climate; desert; mostly hot, dry, dusty; tropical in extreme south.

Nigerien(s) speak French (official), Hausa, Djerma.

Nigerien National Map

Nigerien Map

Regions of Niger

Niger became independent from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali SAIBOU was forced by public pressure to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic government in 1993. Political infighting brought the government to a standstill and in 1996 led to a coup by Col. Ibrahim BARE. In 1999 BARE was killed in a coup by military officers who promptly restored democratic rule and held elections that brought Mamadou TANDJA to power in December of that year. TANDJA was reelected in 2004. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal government services and insufficient funds to develop its resource base. The largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy is frequently disrupted by extended droughts common to the Sahel region of Africa.


Niger Country Profile

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking last on the United Nations Development Fund index of human development. It is a landlocked, Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Drought cycles, desertification, a 2.9% population growth rate, and the drop in world demand for uranium have undercut the economy. Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union. In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and concluded an agreement with the Fund on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Debt relief provided under the enhanced HIPC initiative significantly reduces Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction. In December 2005, it was announced that Niger had received 100% multilateral debt relief from the IMF, which translates into the forgiveness of approximately $86 million USD in debts to the IMF, excluding the remaining assistance under HIPC. Nearly half of the government's budget is derived from foreign donor resources. Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources. Uranium prices have recovered somewhat in the last few years. A drought and locust infestation in 2005 led to food shortages for as many as 2.5 million Nigerians.

Nigerien natural resources include uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, molybdenum, gypsum, salt, petroleum

landlocked; one of the hottest countries in the world; northern four-fifths is desert, southern one-fifth is savanna, suitable for livestock and limited agriculture

Nigerien religion is Muslim 80%, remainder indigenous beliefs and Christian.

Natural hazards in Niger include recurring droughts.

Travel Advice on Niger

Niger

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Crime Section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is no British Embassy in Niger.  The British Ambassador to Niger resides in Accra, Ghana.  Our Honorary Consul can only offer limited consular assistance in an emergency.

  • Due to the existence of armed bandits, we recommend you avoid using the road leading from Burkina Faso to Torodi, day or night.  We also advise against all but essential travel on the Agadez-Arlit and Agadez-Timia roads.  You should avoid using these roads at all times after dark.

  • Extreme caution should be exercised when travelling to the following areas:  the Aïr Massif, the Ténéré and Kaouar regions; the Azawagh area, particularly the area between the Malian and Algerian borders and the towns of Tahoua and Ingall; the east of the Aïr Massif.

  • The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Niger is theft.  You should therefore take sensible precautions to keep safe important items such as money, passports, jewellery and mobile phones.

  • You should always use local guides and seek local advice when travelling outside of the main towns and in desert areas, and avoid travelling after dark.

  • Terrorists are active in countries neighbouring Niger, including Algeria and Chad.  You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • You should carry some form of identification at all times.  This would normally mean your passport or residence permit.  If you intend to drive outside of the main towns, the likelihood of having to produce some form of identification is high.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Extreme poverty means that levels of crime, especially in the capital Niamey, are high.  Thefts, robberies and residential break-ins can occur at any time.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Niger is theft.  These crimes are common day or night.  You should therefore take sensible precautions to keep safe important items such as money, passports, jewellery and mobile phones.  The areas around the Gaweye Hotel, National Museum, Petit Marché are particularly prone to muggings and you should not walk alone there, or cross the Kennedy Bridge on foot at any time.  Walking at night is not recommended due to lack of street lighting.

In 2004, around 50 armed men attacked and robbed three groups of tourists along the eastern border of the Aïr Massif.  Attacks against tourists have also taken place at El Meki between Agadez and Timia.  The Aïr and Ténéré regions are particularly prone to attacks of this kind and you should exercise particular care when travelling in these areas.  Whenever possible, you should travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles accompanied by a local guide and a member of the security forces.  The killing of eight Nigeriens in September 2004 highlighted the lack of security in this region.  (See also ‘Local Travel’).  There have also been incidents of Nigeriens being killed in the course of hold-ups and robberies on public transport buses travelling between Tahoua and Agadez and between Agadez and Arlit.

Banditry, smuggling and other criminal activity remains in border areas (e.g.  Algeria-Mali-Niger, Nigeria-Chad-Niger) and can constitute a real risk to travellers, especially after dark.

In August 2006, a group of tourists, including 21 Italians, was kidnapped in the desert area of southeast Niger, near Lake Chad and the border with Chad.  Most were freed shortly afterwards, but the remaining two were not released until 12 October 2006.

In January 2007, three people, including members of the security forces, were reported to have been killed and several more injured when bandits attacked a convoy of trucks in the Aïr region near Seguedine.  A number of hostages were held briefly before being released, unharmed, following combined intervention by the Niger and Chad security forces.  On 8 February 2007, at least three people were killed when a group of armed assailants attacked a military camp at Iferouane near the Algerian border.  Order was subsequently restored by the security forces.

Overall, Niger remains economically depressed and there is a risk to travellers from criminal elements throughout the country.  Car thieves often target off-road vehicles.  Take elementary precautions such as ensuring car doors are locked at all times.  Do not walk alone after dark, even in town.

Foreign visitors and residents in Niger are increasingly becoming targets by scam artists.  The scams come in many forms, and can pose great financial loss to victims.  Scam artists are also targeting individuals in the UK.  Relatives or friends in the UK should first check with the person who has travelled to Niger before becoming involved in the transfer of money.  If you are concerned about someone who has travelled to Niger you should contact the Consular Section of the British High Commission, Accra (E-mail: high.commission.accra@fco.gov.uk). Schemes in operation by West African criminal networks are designed to facilitate victims parting with money, known as advance fee or 419 fraud.  Scam artists are also known to be targeting internet dating/personal sites with the intention of soliciting money from victims.  For further information on advance fee fraud please see: http://www.met.police.uk/fraudalert.

Political Situation

Niger Country Profile

The political situation is generally stable.  In Niamey, demonstrations involving students and public sector workers are fairly frequent.  Although these are, for the most part, peaceful, they can on occasion turn violent and you should take care to avoid all crowds and demonstrations.

Mamadou Tandja won a second and final term in the second round of presidential elections in December 2004.

Niger faced a serious food crisis in 2005 affecting up to 2.5 million people and requiring a major international relief operation.

Local Travel

Due to continued sporadic incidents of banditry, we advise extreme caution when travelling to the following areas:
  • the Aïr Massif, the Ténéré and Kaouar regions;
  • the Azawagh area, particularly the area between the Malian and Algerian borders and the towns of Tahoua and Ingall;
  • the east of the Aïr Massif and the area north of Iferouane up to the Algerian border, an area of 200km deep along the borders with Mali, Algeria/Libya and Chad.
We also advise against all but essential travel on the Agadez-Arlit and Agadez-Timia roads.  You should avoid using these roads at all times after dark.  Due to attacks by armed criminal, we recommend you avoid using the road from Burkina Faso to Torodi at all times.
The roads listed below in northern Niger are permanently closed to tourists, except with special authorisation:
  • Chirfa (Djado) / Djanet (Algeria)
  • Achouloma (north Djado) / Salvador Pass (Libya)
  • Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / Djanet (Algeria)
  • Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / In Azawa (Algeria)
You should always seek local advice and use local travel agents and guides when travelling outside main towns and in desert areas.  We strongly recommend using an approved local travel agent who can arrange all the necessary permits for your journey and leave details of your itinerary with the local authorities.  You should carry an independent satellite phone when travelling off the beaten track.  You should prepare well in advance for any journey and ensure that you have a sufficient supply of drinking water and food.  You should not travel at night, particularly outside towns.

Road Safety

UK driving licences are not valid.  If you plan to drive in Niger, you should obtain an international driving licence.  This is valid for a period of three months, after which you need to obtain a Nigerien licence.  To obtain this you are required to hand over your UK (not international) licence, which will be returned to you at the end of your stay.  It is important to carry car papers and ID when travelling, especially on journeys outside of the main towns.

The main roads between Niamey and other large towns are generally satisfactory by African standards.  Buses operate on routes between Niamey and other large towns, but distances are long and buses are prone to mechanical failure.  Other risks include potholes, poorly lit oncoming vehicles and the paucity of medical facilities in the case of an accident.  In Niamey only main roads are tarmacked and street lighting is poor.  Taxis are available but, like other vehicles, are often in unsound mechanical condition.  Driving standards are poor.

In the case of an accident, you should go immediately to the nearest police station to file a report.  Remaining on the spot risks being taken to task, sometimes violently, by the local population.

Air Safety
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Local laws reflect the fact that Niger is a Muslim country.  You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Dress tends to be conservative and women are expected to dress modestly.
You should not photograph military or government installations.
Visitors who commit criminal offences, for example drugs trafficking, can expect to be subjected to local law.  Local prison conditions are harsh.  Homosexuality is illegal, but in practice is tolerated if discreet.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You will require a valid visa and a certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever to enter Niger.  There are Embassies in Paris and Brussels but not in London.
You should carry some form of identification at all times.  This would normally mean your passport or residence permit.  If you intend to drive outside of the main towns, the likelihood of having to produce some form of identification is high.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Embassy of Niger in Paris.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling.  This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see the Travel Insurance
Meningitis outbreaks occur frequently particularly in the dry season from February to July.  Malaria is endemic.  Before travelling to Niger, you should consult your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication and on arrival, take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.
HIV/AIDS and waterborne diseases such as cholera are prevalent.  There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in Niger.  Epidemics of this kind are particularly common in the rainy season from July-October.  Drinking water should be filtered and boiled or bought in brand bottles with unbroken seals.  Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.
Medical facilities are poor, even in Niamey.  Serious medical treatment would require evacuation to Europe.  You are therefore advised to take medical advice before travelling and ensure all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  Your health insurance should cover medical evacuation by air ambulance.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed several cases of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in domestic ducks near the border with Nigeria.  No human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
There is no British Embassy in Niger.  The British Ambassador to Niger resides in Accra.  Our Honorary Consul, Mrs Susan Jarrett, can only offer limited consular assistance in an emergency.
The nearest British mission to issue British passports is the High Commission in Accra, Ghana.  Passport applications may be submitted by any of the following methods:
  • Submit in person to the High Commission in Accra; if one week’s prior notice is given before arrival in Accra arrangements can be made for the passport to be issued expeditiously.
  • Forward completed application by courier enclosing a cfa bank draft from Ecobank to the value of the passport service required (please check the British High Commission website).  Replacement passports cannot be returned by courier but may be collected by a third party if the individual concerned presents identification and an original letter of authorisation from the holder.  This process can be completed within ten working days.
You should carry ID (passport or residence permit) at all times, particularly when driving outside of the main towns, when the likelihood of having to produce ID is high.
You should re-confirm onward/return flights 72 hours in advance.
Money

Niger is a cash based society.  Credit cards are rarely accepted even in the best hotels and restaurants.  There are no ATMs.  Banks accept travellers' cheques: you will have to produce your passport and the receipt for the cheques from the issuing bank.
The Central Bank (BCEAO) has issued the following new CFA notes and coins in Niger: 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000 CFA notes; 500 and 200 CFA coins.