Niger - Services

Between 1988 and 1992 4 banks collapsed: the development bank, Banque de Developpement de la Republique du Niger (BDRN), and commercial banks. Remaining are 2 development banks along with 10 other banks and financial sector institutions. The development banks borrow on international capital markets and lend to large scale business enterprises and public sector projects. The commercial banks and savings banks take deposits from the public and lend to individuals and smaller business enterprises. The commercial banks are also engaged in foreign exchange dealing.

The transport sector is very underdeveloped. There is no railway, and the Niger River is only navigable for 3 months of the year when rain increases the water level. Almost all freight travels by road along the borders with Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. The most northerly point reached is Agadez, 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the Nigerian border, with minimal transport in the northern half of the country. There are 27 airports, of which 9 have paved runways.

Retail and wholesale distribution is undertaken by small traders predominantly in open-air markets where a wide range of foodstuffs, second-hand clothing imported from Europe, and household utensils fabricated from scrap metal, are on sale.

Niger has considerable tourism potential which was starting to expand in the 1980s. Then Tuareg rebellion closed the main attractions, such as Agadez, the capital of the desert zone. Since the peace agreement with the Tuareg in 1995, the number of tourists has begun to increase, mainly to the Tenere Desert, the Air Mountains and the Niger River, reaching 55,000 in 1999. The tourist experience focuses on the attractions of desert life and the exotic nomadic groups, such as the Tuareg, who inhabit the arid regions.

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