By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. Last week’s coup in Niger plunged the West African region into a state of diplomatic and security confusion that had not characterized other recent coups.
2. The position by ECOWAS that it could use coercive force to remove the junta from Niamey (Niger’s capital) is “quite” unprecedented. While some negotiations have begun since the threat, the resolve by the junta to stay on has not been ambiguous.
3. What further makes the situation potentially engulfing is the fact that juntas in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso have pledged to come to the aid of Nigerien junta should ECOWAS intervene.
4. And so what?
5. Since the coup in Niamey, many analysts have spoken about the resource capacity of Niger and proceeded to analyze how it is critical to the energy needs of Europe, especially France. Its rich uranium mines and deposits have been cited.
6. That’s right; Niger is the 7th producer of uranium on the globe and France has dominated the sub-sector for decades. However, the country is not alone when it comes to junta-controlled states with strategic resources in West Africa.
7. Who else?
8. All the countries currently forming a “crescent” of military-ruled states are controlling significant deposits of strategic resources.
9. Starting from the Atlantic coast, the Republic of Guinea had a successful coup in 2021. According to GlobalData, the country was the number two producer of bauxite in the world in 2022. It is also known to have the second-largest reserves of bauxite in the world.
10. Bauxite is an important mineral in the production of alumina—an important material in industrialized economies. For a country that is not an industrial one, these resources leave its shores and its supplies are important to the global price of the mineral. The junta is aware of this.
11. Also, are Mali and Burkina Faso. While these two states have not been mentioned much in the resource dynamics of the coup resurgence in West Africa, they are very important in that resurgence
12. In 2021, Mali and Burkina Faso were the 4th and 5th largest producers of gold in Africa respectively. Mali produced 63. 4 tons with Burkina Faso producing 45 tons. Gold remains a coveted metal.
13. In recent times, Wagner has been known to take advantage of these resources by providing “security” to the country. In Burkina Faso, the abundance of the resource has attracted extremists to it.
14. The juntas across the region are, therefore, in control of resources that make them feel secure despite regional opposition to their presence in the political space. They have what the world wants and are willing to trade them for their survival. They have other important resources too.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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