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Niger Aims for Energy Independence from Nigeria by 2025 with Hydroelectric Dam Project Advancement

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After enduring considerable delays, the Kandadji dam project is now on an accelerated trajectory, seeking to liberate the world’s most impoverished nation from its reliance on neighboring Nigeria for energy supply. In addition to alleviating chronic food insecurity, the project aims to elevate agricultural output.

Although previously postponed several times, first to 2016 and subsequently to 2023, the target date for reservoir filling behind the dam has been set for 2025, as confirmed by authorities. These timelines were affected by successive delays attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. This ambitious endeavor, with a budget of 740 billion CFA francs (equivalent to 1.1 billion euros / $1.3 billion), is a collaborative effort supported by the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank, and French Development Agency. Featuring a dam wall standing at an impressive 28 meters in height, the project will boast a storage capacity of 1.5 billion cubic meters, equivalent to around 600,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Notably, the project necessitates the relocation of 50,000 individuals, a process that has already seen 7,000 people resettled, as reported by the Kandadji Dam Agency.

Positioned approximately 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) upstream from the capital city Niamey, within the “three borders” region encompassing Burkina Faso and Mali, the project has thus far managed to remain unaffected by the recurrent jihadist attacks that afflict the volatile area.

President Bazoum has committed to increasing the deployment of soldiers to ensure uninterrupted operations around the clock at the site. An environmental impact assessment was finalized in 2018 under the auspices of the AfDB. While alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power were evaluated, the comprehensive report deduced that these alternatives could not address the substantial energy requirements on a large scale. Ousmane Danbadji, leader of the Network of Journalists for Water and Sanitation (Rejea) and an expert in the field, emphasizes, “The sole solution capable of mitigating Niger’s persistent food insecurity issue is the Kandadji dam, which will facilitate the cultivation of 45,000 hectares (approximately 111,200 acres) of land to enhance agricultural productivity.

“Anticipations from the dam agency indicate an annual augmentation of 400,000 metric tons of rice, corn, and vegetables in a nation where 80 percent of the populace relies on traditional rain-fed agriculture for subsistence.