Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 13:24 UK

Niger signs power deal with China

File photo of installations near a uranium mine in Arlit, Niger
Chinese companies are interested in Niger's reserves of uranium

The government in Niger has signed an agreement for China to help improve the country's power supplies.

China will transfer several electrical power units to Niger under the agreement, officials said.

The deal comes as Niger's cities have been experiencing power outages, partly due to problems in supply from Nigeria.

Chinese companies have recently become more active in Niger, exploring for uranium and oil in the north and east of the country.

Government officials said the power units were being dismantled in China prior to their transfer, the BBC's Idy Baraou reports from Niger.

Each unit is expected to provide 15-20 megawatts (MW) of power.

"We hope that this new equipment could help increase the production of electric power by about 30% for the region of (the capital) Niamey, which means we will be able to provide between 50 and 60 megawatts," said Hamidu Mamudu, head of Niamey's existing power plant.

An official from Niger's state power company was also travelling to Asia to purchase new parts for Niger's ageing infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Niger's government says it is investing about $4m for short-term improvements to the country's power grid.

Demand for power in Niger has been increasing.

Niger, a major producer of uranium, is also one of the world's poorest nations.

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