Niamey Explained

Official Name:Niamey
Pushpin Map:Niger
Subdivision Type:Country
Subdivision Name:Niger
Area Total Km2:670
Population As Of:2002 census
Population Total:674,950
Utc Offset:+1
Coordinates Display:d

Niamey, population 674,950 (2002 census), is the capital of Niger. It is Niger's largest city, lying on the Niger River, mostly on the east bank. It is an administrative, cultural and economic center. Niamey is located at 13°31'17" North, 2°6'19" East (13.521389, 2.105278). [1]

The city is located in a pearl millet growing region, while manufacturing industries include bricks, ceramic goods, cement and weaving.

Niamey was probably founded in the eighteenth century, but was of little importance to most of the country until the French developed a colonial post in the 1890s. This rapidly grew into an important center. In 1926 it became the capital of Niger, and the population gradually increased, from about 3,000 in 1930 to around 30,000 in 1960, 250,000 in 1980 and - by some estimates - 800,000 in 2000. The major cause of the increase has been immigration during droughts.


While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s has propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city. Under the Military government of General Seyni Kountché, there remained strict contols on residency, and the government would regularly round up and "deport" those without permits back to their villages.[2] The growing freedoms of the late 80s and 1990s, along with the Tuareg Rebellion of 1990s and famine in the 2000s, has reinforced the process of inmigration, with large informal settlements appearing on the outskirts of the cities. Noticeable in the city's centre since the 1980s are groups of poor, young, or handicapped beggars.Within the richer or more trafficked neigbourhoods, these beggars have in fact formed a well regulated hierarchical system in which beggars garner sadaka (alms) according to cultural and religious norms.[2]

Sites and institutions

Attractions in the city include the Niger National Museum, incorporating a zoo, a museum of vernacular architecture, a craft centre, and exhibits including dinosaur skeletons and the Tree of Ténéré. There are also American, French and Nigerien cultural centres, two major markets, and a traditional wrestling arena.

The city is also the site of Diori Hamani International Airport, the National School of Administration, Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey, which lies on the right bank of the river, and many institutes (Centre numérique de Niamey, IRD, ICRISAT, Hydrologic Institute, etc.)

In December 2005 it was the host of the Jeux de la Francophonie.Niamey comprises a special capital district of Niger, which is surrounded by the department of Tillabéri.

Street addressing

Many major West African cities only developed street numbering schemes in the 1990s. Niamey's 2001-2002 street addressing project, although coming later to this process, was regarded as somewhat of a model in its speed, efficiency, and cost. Although receiving some funding and advisement from the International Agency of Mayors of the Francophonie (AIMF), the process was planned and carried out by the Niamey's Municipal government (Communaute Urbaine de Niamey) in 15 months during 2001-2002. A wide ranging public education campaign was carried out during the planning stages, and elements of the Tax assessment and utility planning authorities collaborated in the block by block assessment of the city, and a street address database was compiled with this data and the name of inhabitants or business for every doorway: over 50,000 addresses. The address system is based on dividing the city into 44 formal, named "Districts", based on pre-existing neighbourhoods. Each District is given a two letter prefix ("Grand Marché", for instance, is "GM"). All streets are numbered ordinarily, with streets roughly parallel to the river using even numbers, and cross streets odd numbers. Doorway numbering (addresses) begin at the river and increase as they move away, with alternating even-odd address numbers on opposite sides of the street. Thus a street address in "Grand Marché" District might be "4735, Rue GM 12, Niamey" ("Rue" being the French word for street). 100,000 street signs were also installed during the process.[3]


More than 90% of Niger is populated by Muslims, and as such Niamey hosts the largest mosque in the country. The city also has a Roman Catholic bishop.

External links


Jenna Rae Tavarez

Notes and References

  2. Patrick Gilliard, and Laurent Pédenon "Rues de Niamey, espace et territoires de la mendicité" Politique africaine, Paris (October 1996) no.63 pp. 51-60.
  3. World Bank, Catherine Farvacque-Vitković, Lucien Godin, Hugues Leroux, Florence Verdent, Roberto Chavez. Street Addressing and the Management of Cities. World Bank Publications, (2005) ISBN 9780821358153 pp. 15, 30, 85-89.