It is a project that worries Benin and is unanimous in Nigeria. Last Wednesday, the Nigerian director announced that it had released pledges of $ 1.9 billion for the construction of a 250km railway line that will connect Nigeria to neighboring Niger. A project whose foundations were launched in 2015, but whose costs and real interest rates are discussed.
The future railway line will connect the city of Kano in Nigeria with Maradi in southern Niger and pass through Jigawa, Katsina and Jibia. But the announcement of this project, which costs almost $ 2 billion, is going badly in Nigeria, at a time when the country is suffering from the consequences of the economic crisis linked to coronavirus.
On social networks and in the media, Nigerians question the relevance of this very expensive railway connection with Niger, while their own country lacks such infrastructure.
Faced with this criticism, the Nigerian Presidency nevertheless specified that Nigeria would build only the section located on its territory and that the Republic of Niger would be responsible for financing the railway line from the border to Maradi.
The strategic and commercial interest in this project also raises questions. In Benin, some observers believe Nigeria wants to position itself to capture trade flows and goods from Niger that are currently passing through the port of Cotonou.
But on the Nigerian side, we see things very differently: while the unions condemn “an insult” from the government and “waste” of money, others accuse Muhammadu Buhari of preferring the northern part of the country where he comes from.