The closure of Nigeria’s borders with the Niger Republic and the potential use of military options to resolve the political crisis there pose a threat to the nation’s exports to Francophone West African nations, which total more than N160 billion.
The seventh-largest uranium producer in the world is the Niger Republic. The country produced 2,020 metric tons of uranium in 2022, with France being the main consumer at a price of roughly $130 per kilogram. The Niger crisis has compelled certain Western countries, including France, the Netherlands, the United States, and the European Union, to stop providing help to the country.
It should be remembered that 10 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Ghana, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Benin Republic, and Senegal, agreed that using force to break the deadlock in the Niger Republic is not out of the question.
Aside from the assets of its regional bank being frozen along with those of the state and businesses in commercial banks, sanctions on the Niger Republic also include the suspension of any business dealings with the nation.
Findings and an analysis of international trade statistics by this reporter show that Nigeria had already announced the closing of its borders with the Niger Republic, placing over N160 billion worth of exports to several Francophone West African countries in jeopardy.
The decision by ECOWAS further undermines the recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) accord, which is intended to increase intra-African trade. For instance, Nigeria’s commerce with the rest of Africa was 2% in the first quarter of 2022, 3.8% in the second, 2.5% in the third, and 3.4% in the fourth.
Tobacco-containing cigarettes, vessels and other floating structures for breaking up, excursion boats with mechanical propulsion, floating or submersible drilling or production platforms, and building materials other than white cement were among the products that Nigerian exporters sold to Francophone West African nations, including those governed by military juntas, in 2022.
A few of the places on the list are Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, and Benin Republic. If Cameroon, another country with a Francophone population, decides to join the fight in support of the Niger Republic, the number will be larger. Cigarettes, ships, and other floating structures, as well as passenger cruise ships, were exported from Nigeria to Cameroon in 2022.
The military governments in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali have all expressed their support for the new Niger Republic government, even going so far as to say that an attack on the Niger Republic by ECOWAS forces would be a declaration of war against them. This has increased the level of escalation that will occur within the subregion should there be any military conflict with the Niger Republic, led by Nigeria, the strongest military bloc in the area.
Our investigation found that the items exported to the Francophone West African states were among the top 15 most exported goods in Nigeria in 2022, according to export data. Floating or submersible drilling or production platforms were the sixth most popular export during the first quarter of last year, making up 1.27 percent of all exports during that period.
Ships and other floating constructions for breaking were Nigeria’s tenth-most popular export, making up 0.22 percent of all exports. In the first quarter of 2022, tobacco-containing cigarettes ranked as the 15th most exported goods, with 0.15 percent of the nation’s total export value.
Cigarettes with tobacco were the 15th most exported product between April and June 2022, while other building materials other than white cement were the 11th most exported product, accounting for 0.18 and 0.11 percent of the quarter’s total export value, respectively.
The eighth and thirteenth most exported goods from Nigeria between July and September 2022 were vessels and other floating structures for leisure, while the fourth, ninth, and eleventh most exported goods from Nigeria to the aforementioned nations were passenger cruise ships, mechanically propelled excursion boats, cigarettes containing tobacco, and floating or submersible drilling or production platforms.
The Dangote Group’s international subsidiaries and Nigeria’s tier-one banks will also be impacted, according to our study. Dangote Cement owns 95 percent of Dangote Cement Chad S.A., Dangote Cement Mali S.A., and Dangote Cement Burkina Faso.
Similarly, the local rice paddy exported to Niger, Benin, Togo, and Burkina Faso through the Kamba Border in Kebbi, worth approximately 10 billion Naira annually, will also be adversely affected by these new trade restrictions.
The closure of Nigeria’s borders with the Niger Republic and the potential utilization of military options to address the political crisis there have cast a shadow over Nigeria’s significant exports to Francophone West African nations. With billions of dollars at stake and the intricate web of international relations, this situation not only jeopardizes trade relationships but also strains regional stability and undermines broader continental trade agreements.
The delicate balance between political maneuvering and economic imperatives underscores the complex challenges that must be navigated for a peaceful resolution and the preservation of vital economic ties.
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