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Niger plans to build diesel refinery and increase supplies to Mali

(Reuters) - Niger will create a diesel refinery to supply its Sahel allies and plans a more than six-fold increase in diesel shipments to Mali to tackle that country's energy crisis, Petrol Minister Mahaman Moustapha Barke said.

The announcement, made on Tuesday, signals deeper cooperation between the juntas leading Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, which have quit West African regional bloc ECOWAS and formed a pact known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

According to the new deal, Niger's diesel supplies to Mali will increase to 150 million litres per year from the current 22 million litres, Barke said after a meeting with Malian leader Assimi Goita, adding the first deliveries would arrive within weeks.

He said that Niger's leader Abdourahamane Tiani had asked to build a refinery some 140 km (85 miles) from the capital Niamey. The factory will supply diesel to the three AES members.

Electricity shortages in Mali have helped to increase frustration with the ruling junta. Opposition politicians, including Housseini Amion Guindo, have called for a regime change over the junta's inability to meet the essential needs of the people.


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