Chinese state firm agrees US$400m loan with Niger junta in return for oil


NIGER – Niger’s military junta has reportedly signed a US$400 million deal with a Chinese state-owned oil giant as part of its plan to “diversify international partnerships” after cutting ties with France and the United States.

The deal was signed on Friday by Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) Chief Executive Officer, Zhou Zuokun.

According to South China Mining Post, the deal would see the Chinese company advance the money to help Niger’s military rulers meet short-term obligations as the economy struggles to recover from the impact of sanctions.

According to the Nigerien Press Agency, the Chinese company would be repaid with crude oil shipments within 12 months at an interest rate of seven per cent.

“There is no shadow over this as we have safeguarded the interests of our country,” Zeine said after signing the deal in the presence of Chinese ambassador, Jiang Feng, who had been leading the negotiations with Niger.

Zeine stated that China was “a great friend for Niger, we can never say it enough. This signature demonstrates the friendship … and fruitful cooperation between the two states.

“It must be remembered since the beginning of this great oil adventure, China has always been at the side of our country and today it is proven that at such crucial moments, we could obviously manage to request an advance, these are Niger’s rights, and we will give ourselves all the means to repay them.”

Resource-backed deals of this type are extremely popular with Chinese lenders, but critics say they increase countries’ vulnerability to debt.

Africa Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina, had called for an end to loans given in exchange for oil or natural resources, describing them as “non-transparent, unfair and corruptible” adding that they “complicate debt resolution, and mortgage the future of countries.”

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