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Blackouts in Niger have become more frequent after neighbor Nigeria cut off exports of electricity, which covers 70% of Niger’s demand.
While Niger struggles to keep the lights on, not all in Nigeria see the halt of exports as a good move.
“The strategic decision of Nigeria to halt its electricity provision appears to be a form of leveraging power, akin to Russia’s gas supply cutoff to Europe. From my perspective, this choice does not align with Nigeria’s enlightened self-interest,” Wolemi Esan, managing partner at a Nigerian law firm told local media.
He went on to say that Nigeria’s exports to Niger were meant to discourage the latter from building a dam upstream of the river Niger. If a dam gets built, this would worsen the river’s downstream flow that goes through Nigeria.
In other words, Nigeria has a material interest in keeping Niger dependent on it for electricity supply. Once this supply is removed, Niger will have no motivation to avoid building the damn, the comments suggest.
A group of military commanders overthrew the Niger government in late July and the country’s army declared its support for the coup. Other African countries, grouped in the Economic Community of West African States, including Nigeria, imposed sanctions on Niger immediately.
Other military-led countries in the region, however, supported the coup, with Mali and Burkina Faso warning against any external attempts to remove the new leadership of Niger. The two said any such attempt at intervention would be considered a declaration of war against them, too, Al Jazeera reported this week.
ECOWAS has threatened the use of force unless the junta reinstated the elected president of Niger, with one official saying “The military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality.”
The military leadership of Niger, meanwhile, vowed last weekend to prosecute former president Mohamed Bazoum for high treason.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com