The French Ambassador in Niger, SE. Sylvain Itté and Nigerien civil society actor Mr. Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of the Association Alternative Espace Citoyen, attended Tuesday 15 November 2022, at the invitation of the Executive Committee of the ‘UENUN, at the Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey , at one of the latter organized conference-debate on cooperation between Niger and France. Through this initiative, the representatives of the students of the University of Niamey wanted to give their comrades the opportunity to understand the contours and even the history of this collaboration between the two countries.
The 1000-seat amphitheater of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey was packed for this unique opportunity offered to the university’s students by their directors.
“Niger-France Cooperation: Analysis and Perspectives” is the theme developed by the French Ambassador in Niger, SE. Sylvain Itté and “Niger-France cooperation, what imbalances? », by the Nigerian civil society actor, Mr. Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of the Alternative Espace Citizens Association.
I speak first, Ambassador SE. From the outset, Sylvain Itté wanted to thank the students for inviting them to this debate.
“I’m aware that I’m not on particularly profitable ground for myself, I’m aware that the vast majority of people who are in the room today, if they’re not hostile to me, aren’t favorable, but I am think, and I appeal first and foremost to the conscience of the students that you are, and I think that rather than staying on our side, it is always preferable and desirable to debate, to exchange, to dialogue, to confront to communicate via social networks. So I very readily agreed to come and meet you.
Addressing the actual topic of his presentation, the ambassador immediately underlined that the presence of France in Niger today is one of cooperation and support for the country’s development in a range of programs in the fields of health, education, urban development, hydraulics and energy which is based on 3 major areas of competence. “One that ties right into the hydraulics, which is fundamental. Today, the action of French operators and players in the field of hydraulics has given access to water to more than a million people in this country. The second sector is the “great green wall” that affects more generally and specifically agriculture in all these sectors and agro-industry, and finally the 3rd sectorth The sector in which we are involved is education, which President Bazoum has made his top priority in relation to his political program,” said HE. Sylvain Itte.
According to the French diplomat, on the basis of these 3 sectors in which it operates, France is now Niger’s first bilateral donor and first bilateral partner, with directly or indirectly more than a billion euros in funding for various projects.
According to Mr. Itté, France has long been accused of economic activities and “economic robberies” in Africa and Niger, today France has less than 0.2% of its economic turnover in sub-Saharan Africa.
” France is being criticized for having companies that are anticipating resources and of course in Niger some will talk to me about uranium and we can talk about it again but there are extremely precise and quantified elements, today in sub-Saharan Africa apart from ORANO in Niger, not a single French company is active in mining. In Mali, which has been a hot topic lately and where France has been accused of looting gold and mining resources, go to the Mali Ministry of Mines website and see the list of mining companies in Mali today , there is not a single French he continued
Regarding the French military presence, which continues to draw much ink and saliva in public opinion, the French ambassador to Niger removed the ambiguity: “ In Niger, the French army is there at the request of the legitimate authorities of Niger, it is here on the basis of a vote by the Nigerien Parliament, which I would like to remind you that even the opposition abstained from that vote. .. It is perfectly legitimate to have the debate, we can criticize it, we can be totally opposed to the presence of foreign armies on its territory, but once we have established this political and sovereign principle, the second step is to know whether we alone are able to guarantee our security and, in a country as vast as Niger, to be able to guarantee the reality of defending and supporting our borders “.
” Here are a number of items that I just want us to come back to in a calm and matter-of-fact way. It’s not about going to the profit and loss account, the mistakes that France may have made, there are many. France-Africa is not a mirage of history…it was a system that seems utterly despicable to you and to us today, yes nobody denies it, but that system hasn’t existed for many, many years and if it did exist, Each system requires two people to implement. So if you want to hold France responsible for the France-Africa system, not only do you have the right and legitimacy to do so, and on the other hand this can be understood if we do not make an effort together, you and us, to raise this issue as a whole and to set the responsibilities as a whole, to analyze them as objectively as possible, to draw out the positive elements for the future, I think that together we will miss this important moment of African youth wanting to build their future on new foundations. But building your future on new foundations means wanting to look at your present and your past in a clear way, we have to do it and you have to do it, we all have to do it », S.E.M. Syvain Itté, Ambassador of France to Niger
As he took the floor, Mr. Moussa Tchangari also thanked UENUN for this opportunity. For the Secretary General of the AEC, who thinks the location is appropriate, these talks must find a wide response.
“I hope you are aware of everything that is being said, what is happening in the Sahel where France is present, including at the military level. This is a very serious issue and we hope that what we are discussing here will also be passed on in Paris, where decisions are made, and why not here in the Presidency and in all the forums, where decisions about our cooperation in general with all countries and in particular with France ” addressed Mr. Tchangari, who gave a broad overview of the subject entrusted to him in an almost hour-long presentation, ” Cooperation between Niger and France, what imbalances? ”, Through a return to several elements of history, for many obscure and topical and current events that represent a real discord for ordinary Nigerians in this relationship.
After the two presentations, the floor was given to the students, who did not disappoint the speakers’ expectations. They are indeed illustrated by several comments, analyses, and questions, most of which were not friendly to France. The tension escalated by a notch and was even palpable through the sequence. Dozens of students streamed past the meeting table voicing their concerns on various issues related to this collaboration.
Abdoul Wahab Issaka (actuniger.com)