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- GDP (PPP):
- $11.6 billion
- 2.3% growth
- 4.3% 5-year compound annual growth
- $771 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Niger’s economic freedom score is 53.9, making its economy the 128th freest in the 2013 Index. Its score has decreased by 0.4 point since last year, with declines in half of the 10 economic freedoms including labor freedom and freedom from corruption. Niger is ranked 26th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is slightly above the regional average.
Niger is endowed with a number of natural resources, including uranium and oil, which have allowed moderate growth in recent years. However, like many other resource-endowed countries in the region, it still lacks the economic diversity and dynamism that are critical to stable long-term development. The country’s institutional settings do not provide an adequate base on which to build a broad-based private sector that will foster vibrant economic expansion. The rule of law is poorly enforced, and legal uncertainty is further exacerbated by systemic corruption.
The economy remains highly vulnerable to external shocks, and the inefficient regulatory environment continues to constrain commercial operations and investment growth. The underdeveloped financial system remains fragmented, reflecting the small size of the formal economy.
President Mamadou Tandja introduced a new constitution in 2009 to extend his term in office but was overthrown in 2010. Opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou won elections in March 2011 and was inaugurated as president in April 2011. His political coalition also won a majority in the National Assembly. A Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger remains a threat to national security. Another concern is the recent increase in Islamic activity, which Niger believes is associated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries. With the exception of uranium, its substantial mineral resources, including petroleum and gold, have yet to be exploited. About 80 percent of the population depends on subsistence farming and herding. Most economic activity is informal, infrastructure is poor, and arid conditions and extended droughts hinder food production.
The rule of law is hampered by an ineffective judicial framework, and a weak court system remains vulnerable to political interference. Although the transition back to civilian rule in 2011 was a hopeful sign, rampant corruption in the executive and legislative branches worsened at the same time because of poorly trained law enforcement, weak administrative controls, and politicization of the public service.
The top income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 30 percent. Other taxes include a tax on interest and a capital gains tax. The overall tax burden equals 13.3 percent of total domestic income. Government spending is equivalent to 25.8 percent of GDP. The budget balance remains negative, although public debt remains below 20 percent of GDP. Government spending continues to grow due to oil revenue and increased aid flows.
The inadequate regulatory framework hampers private-sector development. Onerous and inconsistent regulations impose substantial costs on business operations. The cost of completing licensing requirements is still over 15 times the level of annual average income. With the labor market poorly developed, much of the labor force works in the informal sector. The state influences prices through state-owned utilities.
The trade-weighted average tariff rate is high at 9.1 percent, and extensive non-tariff barriers further increase the cost of trade. The bureaucratic investment framework remains outmoded and non-transparent, deterring vibrant growth in private investment. Despite some progress toward modernizing the financial sector, financing options for starting and expanding private businesses are limited. Overall bank credit to the private sector remains low.