07/31/2008, 00.00
CHINA - NIGER
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Protests in Niger over oil extraction deal with China

China is paying 5 billion dollars for access to Niger's petroleum reserves. But rights activists charge that the government is not saying how it will use the money, and are calling for an investigation by parliament. Beijing never asks governments how the money it pays will be used.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Rights activists in Niger are protesting and calling for "a parliamentary investigation" over a 5 billion dollar contract with China for access to oil reserves.

The activists, from a variety of organizations, say they are concerned that the money will not be used on behalf of the population, in part because despite dealing with a large amount of money, the agreement was struck in secret, and the government of Niger has still not said how it will use the money. In June, China agreed to 5 billion dollars in investments over three years for the development of oil production. The government is not responding over how the money will be used, but insists that the agreement will create better jobs.

Analysts observe that in various African countries, the exploitation of resources has benefited political leaders most of all, even recently. They recall the case of the government of Angola, which for years openly squandered a billion dollars of oil revenue every year. For this reason, the rights activists are asking that the terms of the agreement and use of the money be disclosed.

Beijing has been accused repeatedly of conducting business with African governments without asking how the money will be used, which Western countries do.

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