The United States is planning to invest in a military air base in the Northwest African country of Niger. The base will have the capacity of deploying drones and the investment reportedly stands at at least $50 million.
The development of the new military base is expected to see the transfer of U.S. assets in the region from the U.S.'s shared air base with France's anti-Islamist force — Operation Barkhane — in Niger's capital city of Niamey to the new facility in the city of Agadez. This includes the MQ-9 Reaper drones.
The new base, which will provide the U.S. greater access to Islamist extremists in neighboring countries like Libya, Mali and Nigeria, will cost the country an estimated $50 million, BBC quoted Michelle Baldanza, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, as saying. She confirmed that Washington will pay for a new runway, as well as “associated pavements, facilities and infrastructure.”
However, investigative news site the Intercept obtained documents using the Freedom of Information Act that show the cost of the project to be double of what has been stated. Codenamed “Air Base 201,” the report found that in addition to the $50 million set aside for the construction, nearly $50 million more would be provided for the “operation and maintenance” of the base.
The project, which is expected to be completed in 2017, is considered “the most important U.S. military construction effort in Africa,” according to the Intercept report.