Turkey will invest in the extraction and the processing of Niger's uranium for the nuclear plant being built, said Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, adding that other joint projects were also considered.
ANKARA – Turkey and Niger on Tuesday signed a joint declaration to promote greater cooperation in the fields of mining, electricity and solar energy. During a press conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yıldız expressed his country's interest in investing in Niger's uranium deposits. "As a country that is building a nuclear plant, Turkey believes Niger's uranium is very important," said Yıldız.
Yıldız said Niger's rich natural mining reserves and expansive young population mean both parties will likely benefit from greater bilateral cooperation. Niger extracts about 5,000 tons of uranium annually and also has coal, iron, phosphate and copper deposits. Turkey previously signed a memorandum of understanding with Niger in July 2013 during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the country. Turkey's President Abdullah Gül also recently received his Nigerian counterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou, and said that in addition to investing in Niger, Turkey will continue to bolster cooperation in matters of security. "We place great importance on Niger's political stability. We will continue to do our best to contribute in this regard," Gül said.
While hailing the joint declaration, Niger's Minerals and Industrial Development Minister Omar Hamidou called on Turkish business owners to invest in his country, adding that new laws will provide a 5- to 10-year tax exemption for foreign companies operating in Niger. Energy and Oil Minister Foumakoye Gado said Turkish businesspeople have the opportunity to invest in electric, hydro-power, coal, natural gas, solar energy and oil exploration. "Previously it was taking three to four months to establish a company in Niger. Now it only takes one or two days," he added. The two parties also signed agreements to cooperate on matters concerning access to water, agriculture and health.
Yıldız also spoke about the third anniversary of the nuclear reactor meltdown at Japan's Fukushima plant on Tuesday and emphasized that Turkey has learned from the incident and increased security at the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant currently under construction in the south of the country. On a separate note and in response to a journalist's question about the European Union's decision to delay talks on the South Stream Project with Russia, Yıldız said, "It is nothing about Turkey's energy supply security. I hope the EU and Russia will solve the problem among themselves." The South Stream Project would see a gas pipeline transport natural gas from Russia through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to Greece, Italy and Austria. The project is viewed by many as a challenge to the planned Nabucco pipeline, which construction began on in Dec. 2012, and is slated to be completed by 2015.
On Monday, the EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger revealed that negotiations on the project, which would see Russian gas bypass Ukraine on its way to Europe, would be delayed.