Niger registered its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 19, 2020. On March 27, 2020, the President declared a national emergency and imposed a night curfew in the capital in addition to shortened work hours and earlier measures that include the closure of Niger’s borders and a ban on large gatherings. On November 13, 2020, in response to cases rising again, the authorities announced visitors would have to surrender their passports that would be returned only after a negative test following a one-week period of strictly monitored self-isolation.
Reopening of the economy and additional containment measures. The night curfew and restriction on religious gatherings were lifted on May 13. The quarantine of Niamey and the ban on inter-city travel were lifted on May 14. The moratorium on seminars and conferences; restricted work hours and limits on non-essential government business were lifted on May 25. The authorities lifted the air border closure as of August 1 with land borders remaining closed. A negative test result is required before arrival. Price controls for essential goods for 3 months. Niger secured US$114.5 million in emergency financing from the IMF on April 14, 2020 and relief from its debt service to the IMF on April 13, 2020.
Due to the persistence and the eminently pathogenic and contagious nature of Covid-19, the Government has decided on January 5, 2021 to extend the state of emergency for a further period of three months from January 08, 2021. The Council of Ministers has decided to renew the measure to close bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues which expires on January 6, 2021.
- Is a curfew in place? No
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes
- Is public transportation operating? Yes
Key Policy Responses as of June 3, 2021
An updated crisis response plan has been presented to donors with an estimated cost of 18.4 percent of GDP, divided into an immediate health response and broader economic and social mitigation. Key elements are already being implemented, such as food distribution, two months of free utilities to the vulnerable households and temporary tax relief for hard-hit sectors. Finance Ministry also announced credit support to the private sector in the form of loan guarantees. The revised cost includes large-scale support for agricultural production, revenue shortfalls, and the building of liquidity buffers. On May 8, the cabinet approved a supplementary budget with 1.3 percent of GDP in resources re-allocated to additional spending toward health, security and social assistance.
On April 27, Heads of states of the West-Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) declared a temporary suspension of the WAEMU Growth and Stability Pact setting six convergence criteria, including the 3 percent of GDP fiscal deficit rule, to help member-countries cope with the fallout of COVID-19. This temporary suspension will allow member-countries to raise their overall fiscal deficit temporarily and use the additional external support provided by donors in response to COVID-19. The Heads of States’ Declaration sets a clear expectation that fiscal consolidation will resume once the crisis is over.
MONETARY AND MACRO-FINANCIAL
The regional central bank (BCEAO) for the West-African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) has taken steps to better satisfy banks’ demand for liquidity and mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on economic activity. In April 2020, the BCEAO adopted a full allotment strategy at a fixed rate of 2.5 percent (the minimum monetary policy rate) thereby allowing banks to satisfy their liquidity needs fully at a rate about 25 basis points lower than before the crisis. In June 2020, the Monetary Policy Committee cut by 50 basis points the ceiling and the floor of the monetary policy corridor, to 4 and 2 percent respectively. The BCEAO also: (i) extended the collateral framework to access central bank refinancing to include bank loans to prequalified 1,700 private companies; (ii) set-up a framework inviting banks and microfinance institutions to accommodate demands from solvent customers with Covid19-related repayment difficulties to postpone for a 3 month renewable period up to end-2020 debt service falling due, without the need to classify such postponed claims as non-performing; and (iii) introduced measures to promote the use of electronic payments. In addition, the BCEAO launched in April 2020 a special 3-month refinancing window at a fixed rate of 2.5 percent for limited amounts of 3-month "Covid-19 T-Bills" to be issued by each WAEMU sovereign to help meet immediate funding needs related to the current pandemic. The total amount of such special T-Bills initially issued by Niger was equivalent to 2.7 percent of GDP, with some rollover possibility through such special T-bills benefiting from a refinancing rate equivalent to the prevailing monetary policy rate but to be paid back by end-2020. The BCEAO has launched in February 2021 a special 6-month refinancing window at the floor of the interest rate corridor to help WAEMU governments meet Covid recovery funding needs. Through this special window banks shall be able to refinance all bonds with maturity of 3 years or more governments currently plan to issue on the regional financial market in 2021. The amount of bonds eligible to the new refinancing window for country [x] is equivalent to [xx] percent of projected 2021 GDP (See country specific data in Table 2). The new refinancing window is expected to remain in place for the term of the eligible bonds issued in 2021. Finally, WAEMU authorities have extended by one year the five-year period initiated in 2018 for the transition to Basle II/III bank prudential requirements. In particular, the regulatory capital adequacy ratio will remain unchanged at end-2020 from its 2019 level of 9.5 percent, before gradually increasing to 11.5 percent by 2023 instead of 2022 initially planned. In addition, in June 2020, the West African Development Bank (BOAD) decided to create a CFAF 100 billion window for extending 5 to 7-year refinancing of banks’ credit to SMEs in the 8 WAEMU member countries. In December 2020, the BCEAO instructed WAEMU banks to refrain from distributing dividends with a view to strengthening their capital buffers in anticipation of the impact of the COVID crisis on asset quality.
Civic Freedom Tracker
MINISTERIAL COMMUNIQUE NO. 12/CM/2020 DECLARING A STATE OF EMERGENCY
The decree by the Council of Ministers declares a nationwide "state of emergency," that among other provisions includes an overnight curfew in the city of Niamey, effective March 28. The curfew will be in effect for a two-week period between the hours of 7pm and 6am local time. (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 27 Mar 2020
Issue(s): Emergency, Movement