Exclusive: Niger’s Issoufou echoes warning that coronavirus could kill millions in Africa

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke of the Covid-19 pandemic which is spreading across the African continent. He called for a “Marshall Plan” from the international community to help African countries cope with the unprecedented health crisis.

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, said that the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was right to warn that the coronavirus could kill millions of people in Africa. The Niger leader called for a “Marshall Plan” from the international community to help African countries cope with this unprecedented health crisis.

>> Watch our interview with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres (page in French)

The President of Niger also explained that the increased spending to fight Covid-19 in his country, combined with the ongoing efforts to fight terrorism, represented a considerable financial burden.

Issoufou, however, rejected the theory, put forward in a note from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of a possible collapse of the nations of the Sahel following the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent. On the contrary, he called for more solidarity so that the post-coronavirus world differs from the previous one.

Regarding the French presence in the Sahel region, the Nigerien president insisted that he was not afraid of a French military withdrawal during the pandemic, despite the first four cases of coronavirus detected this week among the troops of the Barkhane operation. Issoufou said he was convinced that Paris was committed to the fight against jihadist groups.

Finally, the Nigerian leader confirmed that he had recently seen a “proof of life” of the French hostage Sophie Petronin, kidnapped in Mali several years ago.

>> Sophie Pétronin’s son, French hostage in Mali, says she is still alive