NIAMEY, Oct 30 – Niger has accepted a controversial $1 billion loan from the Export Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) to finance development projects, the West African nation’s planning minister said Tuesday.
Repayment of the 25 year loan will start in eight years’ time “thanks to resources from the sale of oil being produced” by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in the east of the country, Amadou Boubacar Cisse announced.
The agreement, the conditions of which Cisse said were “very favourable”, was signed in China on September 30.
Details were not immediately available, but typically China Exim Bank loans require the borrower nation to allocate work and equipment contracts for the project to Chinese companies.
Niger had not made the deal public until Cisse’s announcement during a press conference on Tuesday.
Opposition figure Hama Amadou criticised the government over the loan in a televised parliament debate on October 19, accusing it of “squandering three years’ worth of oil production” for a “$2 billion Exim Bank” loan, leading to a widespread public outcry.
“There has never been any question of squandering barrels of oil,” Cisse said Tuesday, adding that parliament would have the last say before the deal became effective.
Niger has been producing crude oil since 2011 close to the border with Chad and is also a major uranium miner.