- Civil right groups in Niger are calling for a parliamentary inquiry into a multi-billion dollar oil deal between China and the West African state.
A US$ 5 billion deal which was sealed in June by China's biggest oil and gas company, is aimed at developing oil reserves in eastern region of impoverished Niger state.
However, civil rights groups have expressed concerns that people of Niger will not benefit from country's oil wealth, a trend among other mineral rich countries which are marred by insurgency of ethnic and indigenous groups demanding fair share of their countries' wealth.
A mining union in Niger accused that a deal with China was confidentially signed, saying this might result to lack of transparency which in the end will prevent people from gaining from their resources.
Rights groups have also accused Niger government of threatening to cancel a license of investors if they want to disclose details of the deal, saying most deals are struck by officials with vested interest.
Niger, which is troubled by rebels in northern uranium zone is now tapping into major oil exploration in 2009, following Chinese investment.
The three-year deal between Niger government and China would focus on development of Agadem oil block, construction of a refinery with capacity of 20,000 barrels per day near southern city of Zinder and a 2,000 kilometre pipeline to ship oil to international markets.
China's investment in Africa's oil has been under scrutiny for alleged human rights violations, with numerous human rights groups citing amongst others the Tibet issue, back at home, as well as working conditions at investment sites, especially in Sudan.
China is strongly advancing in Africa, being the biggest oil investor in Sudan and strongly present in Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.
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