Current News



The US is losing access to its bases in Niger − here’s why that’s a big deal

Michael A. Allen, Boise State University; Carla Martinez Machain, University at Buffalo, and Michael E. Flynn, Kansas State University, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

There has been increased political insurgency and violence in this region of Africa in the past several years. Drones from Air Base 201 have increasingly monitored and collected intelligence on the Islamic State and al-Qaida. The U.S. monitors activity in the Lake Chad Basin that includes Niger’s neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.

Since Niger’s military coup, the country has become increasingly isolated from others. The French and U.S. governments have reduced aid to Niger, and the European Union and Nigeria have all instituted economic sanctions.

In response, Niger’s ruling junta has strengthened military cooperation with Russia and Iran.

If U.S. forces are removed from Niger entirely, this may also provide opportunities for China to increase its influence there. In recent years, China has been one of Niger’s top trading partners. In 2022, China took in approximately 9% of Niger’s exports and accounted for 22% of Niger’s imports.

The U.S. accounts for a relatively small share of Niger’s total trade.

The U.S., China and Russia have all created a growing military footprint in Africa over the past two decades.


Before 2001, U.S. aid to Africa was focused on goals such as eradicating HIV/AIDS and creating more educational opportunities for children.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. and the subsequent war on terrorism, the U.S. continued to carry out health and other work in Africa but also increased its military footprint there. President George W. Bush’s administration tried to eradicate al-Qaida affiliates and other extremist movements in Africa and elsewhere. African countries that were the targets of al-Qaida terrorism also saw an increase in the proportion of U.S. military aid they received.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense unified its work in Africa by creating a new command called Africa Command, or AFRICOM. Under AFRICOM, the U.S. military has trained, advised and assisted the militaries of other African countries and has also tried to combat militant groups such as Boko Haram.

China established its first permanent foreign military base in Djibouti in 2017. It is now reportedly trying to get another in Equatorial Guinea. Beyond military bases, China has poured billions of dollars into economic development across Africa through its Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to develop new trade routes for China.


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus