The German government has donated 100 flat-bed military trucks, 115 motorcycles and 55 satellite phones to Niger for use by its special army and police counter-terrorism units to combat cross-border militancy and trafficking through the Agadez region of the Sahel.
The equipment was handed over to Nigerien Interior minister Mohammed Bazoum by German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen in Niamey on 31 July, who hailed the donation as further strengthening German defence relations with West Africa.
She said the equipment would help Niger combat the problem of people smuggling amid indications that the country was the main transit point for nearly 80% of the refugees and illegal immigrants who crossed the Sahara to Libya and sailed to Europe.
“Germany sees itself as a close partner of Niger and the entire Sahel region in the fight against terrorism, organized crime and human trafficking. The most sustainable security situation would be one where these countries are able to provide for their own security and stability, and to combat terrorism and organized crime,” von der Leyen said.
Bazoum hailed the German donation saying it would help the country stop transnational terrorism, arms smuggling and various forms of trafficking, which have flourished due to insecurity.
Together with France, Germany supports the setting up of the G-5 Sahel regional counter-terrorism military alliance that is made of Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad.
The headquarters of the regional force is under construction in the Nigerien capital, Niamey. von der Leyen said in the long-term, Germany wants to see the region attaining capabilities to provide its own security to stop the advance of Islamic extremism.
Germany has nearly 1 000 soldiers based in Mali, where they run capacity-building, training and armament programmes for local army and police counter-terrorism units engaged in the fight against regional terrorism.
France has 4 000 troops operating in the Sahel as part of ‘Operation Barkhane’, a regional counter-terrorism effort that trains and runs joint military operations with local forces.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Department of National Defence has invited bids for the supply of 1.2 million rounds of ammunition for AK-47 type weapons for use in a counter-terrorism training and capacity building program for the army and police forces of Niger.
In terms of a solicitation notice posted on the government website Byandsell.gc.ca on 18 July (and amended on 1 August), the successful bidder or bidders will deliver two batches of 7.62 x 39mm (W8484-17XA25/A) cartridges to the Department of National Defense in Ontario by 31 December 2017.
“The contract quantity is 1,200,000 units at 200,000 units delivered on or before 30 August 2017 and 1,000,000 units delivered on or before 31 December 2017. The requirement is subject to the provisions of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). The end user entity is the Department of National Defence,” read part of the notice.
Canadian Joint Operations Command Headquarters spokesman Captain Vincent Bouchard said the ammunition would be used in ‘Operation Naberius’, a programme that has trained the Niger Armed Forces in basic military skills, marksmanship and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
“We take a little part of the ammunition each time we go to Niger, and this purchase is meant to be for the next few years providing training to our international partners. We are getting ready for the next editions of the training. That is why this procurement was required,” Captain Bouchard said.
The Canadian Army training programme is based near the town of Diffa in southern Niger. The town sits on the front-line of the war against Nigerian-based regional Islamist militant group Boko Haram and has been attacked by the militants several times in the past two years