Niger’ rapid population growth rate is not matching its GDP growth. The country’s GDP was 13.7 billion USD in 2020 [1], or 567.67 USD per capita [2], with an annual growth of 3.58% (lower than the economic growth registered in 2018 of +7.2%  as a result of the health, climate and security crises) [3]. The production of the primary sector is dominated by the agro-sylvo-pastoral sector with 38.38% of GDP in 2020 [4] and 80% of employment (INS, 2018) which varies greatly from year to year [5]. 20.15% of the GDP is represented by the Industry sector and the remaining 36.17% by the services sector[4].

Niger's economic growth has been too low, given the rate of growth of its population, to allow for an improvement in the standard of living of Nigeriens [5].


This very low economic growth, which on average did not exceed 1.2% between 1960 and 2004, reflects the weakness of its human capital and infrastructure, and the insufficient diversification of its economy, which is too heavily dependent on a traditional agropastoral sector subject to the risks of the global economy. Niger’ economy is exceedingly heavily dependent on a traditional agropastoral sector subject to climatic hazards [5].


Key policies and governance approach

The development planning of Niger envisions the country to embrace sustainable development, fight poverty, and provide food security. The current key development document of Niger is the Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth Strategy Niger 2035 (SDIGS) [5].


Successes and remaining challenges  

In order to achieve the aspirations of the Nigerien people by 2035, a break with the development policies that have proved to be ineffective up to now is necessary. This is why it is necessary to make pragmatic public policy choices and to prioritize them judiciously. In this respect, a set of strategies - control of population growth, human capital formation, modernization of the rural world, revitalization of the private sector, modernization of public administration and security of persons and property - should be implemented coherently and simultaneously.

The most crucial aspect is undoubtedly the slowing down of the population growth rate, which is currently 3.9% per year and is expected to reach 2.56% in 2035, representing a fertility rate of 5 children per woman. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to instill a dynamic of social transformation that includes men and women in a profound change of their aspirations and roles within their families and communities [5].

The formation of quality human capital would be a determining factor in ensuring inclusive and sustained growth capable of contributing to the achievement of the objectives by 2035. For the successful implementation of development policies, major reforms are essential. Indeed, these reforms should focus on administrative, judicial and political governance in order to have an efficient public administration for the delivery of quality services. The modernization of the rural world - involving the use of modern farming techniques, access to water, energy, infrastructure and the value chain - would increase GDP growth in the rural sector by about 6% per year over the period, a rate faster than the increase in the rural population (3.9% per year), which would allow an increase in per capita income of nearly 2.3% per year for agricultural households. This increase in farm income, supported by pro-poor and inclusive food security incentives, would support the rapid development of the economy as a whole. The private sector should also be revitalized so that it can fully play its role as a driver of economic recovery. Thus, ambitious reforms would be required to provide a flexible and appropriate regulatory framework [5].


Initiatives and Development Plans

To put the country on a pathway of sustainable development, the Government of Niger has developed several strategies, policies, and action plans, including the 2012-2015 Economic and Social Development Plan (PDES) and the “Nigeriens Nourish the Nigeriens” Initiative (I3N).  

The 3N Initiative is the Government’s first centralised initiative to combat hunger and land degradation. Developed in an inclusive and participatory process, the 3N Initiative is a large-scale and cross-sectoral policy for sustainable agricultural development, which aims at increasing livestock, agricultural and forest productivity and enhancing the socio-economic resilience of farmers and herders. Thanks to the initiative, Niger has made significant progress in combating land degradation and in reducing hunger. By 2015, the initiative had, for example, restored 218,219 ha of degraded land, which is83 per cent of the 260,000 ha target set by the first five-year plan. To increase the resilience of vulnerable communities, it set up numerous integrated service platforms to support farmers and herders, spread irrigation systems and distributed 120 000 small cattle. As a result, the proportion of people suffering from hunger was reduced by 50 per cent since 2011. Due to its ambition, inclusiveness and encouraging results, the 3N Initiative received Future Policy Bronze Award 2017 [6].


Goals and Ambitions

The objective of the SDDCI Niger 2035 is to build a modern, democratic and united country, well governed and peaceful, open to the world, as well as an emerging economy, based on a balanced sharing of the fruits of progress. sharing of the fruits of progress. In this case, in 2035, Niger's economy could grow by 6 to 7% annually, and the level of GDP would more than triple. More importantly, per capita income would have doubled from 2015 and its growth rate would reach 3.8%. Moreover, in rural areas, per capita income would also have almost doubled [5].


For Niger to achieve the great ambitions of a green economy and continue to progress towards sustainable development, it is crucial that:

  • economic and commercial development is prioritized;
  • strengthen the enforcement and monitoring of its environmental legislation, encourages green investments and implements sound environmental economic instruments;
  • continue to develop and implement incentives for investments in greener and less polluting technologies.
  • The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to unprecedented adverse social and economic impacts in Niger. As the government take urgent action and lay the foundations for their economic recovery, creation of economic opportunities that are more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient to climate change are crucial. The recovery efforts should prioritize investments that boost jobs and economic activity; have positive impacts on human, social and natural capital; protect biodiversity and ecosystems services.