Does Europe need Niger’s uranium? – by Martina Schwikowski ( – September 4, 2023)

Will the lights go out in Europe if Niger were to prevent France from mining more of its uranium? DW asked experts in Niger and Europe about the energy supply chain in the wake of the coup.

Niger’s greatest treasure lies underground: Uranium is the most important commodity in the Sahel state. But coup plotters have been in charge for just over a month, fueling fears that the uranium supply to global markets is in jeopardy.

France, the former colonial power in Niger, is in a particularly tight spot. Around two-thirds of its electricity comes from nuclear power plants powered by uranium sourced in Niger. It also exports electricity to other countries in Europe that have no nuclear plants of their own.

Dealings with France ‘unequal’

In the wake of the coup in Niger on July 26, the economic cooperation and military partnerships between the two countries are on the line. Niger’s new military junta under General Abdourahamane Tiani has signaled it is tired of France.

When it took power, the junta ordered a halt to uranium exports and later gave the French envoy 48 hours to leave. Ambassador Sylvain Itte, however, has stayed on in Niamey despite the expulsion. The government of President Emmanuel Macron doesn’t want to give up its influence or supply of raw materials, but there is little tolerance in Niger.

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