NIAMEY (AFP) – Niger has cited delays to revoke a huge contract with a Russian company tasked with building the impoverished nation’s flagship hydroelectricity project.
“The government has quite simply decided to terminate the contract between the state of Niger and Zarubezhvodstroy for the construction of the dam,” Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said on public television Thursday.
Rafini argued that only 5.6 percent of the work had been completed two years into the project, whose total cost is estimated at close to $800 million.
The Kandadji hydroelectricity on the Niger River was meant to be completed by 2016 and have a capacity of 132 megawatts.
“We have to acknowledge that despite our warnings to the firm, its weak technical and financial capacities are a major impediment to the completion of this project, which is crucial for Niger,” Rafini said.
Kandadji has received funding from several international institutions, including the World Bank, and is seen as key to efforts to prevent recurring food shortages.
The arid, land-locked west African nation is one of the world’s poorest countries. The dam aims to create thousands of hectares of irrigated land and reduce Niger’s heavy reliance on electricity imported from Nigeria.