Does The Kano To Niger Rail Line Make Sense?

September 24, 2020

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.


On Wednesday, 23 September 2020, Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council approved $1.96 billion for the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Jigawa-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi rail line in the Niger Republic.

The rail track will cover 248 kilometres, and will pass through seven cities in Nigeria: Kano, Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and then terminate in Maradi, Niger.

Why are we building a rail line to Niger?

In March 2018, Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Niger Republic, for the construction of hydrocarbon pipeline and a refinery in the border town between Nigeria and Niger.

The idea is that crude oil from Niger can be transported to the refinery so that both countries can reduce petrol importation and refine crude oil to petroleum for local consumption.

But does this arrangement make sense?

To be honest, there are more pressing things to do than investing $2 billion in a rail line from Kano to the Niger Republic. 

In fact, let’s look at three infrastructure projects this money could have been proposed on:

  1. Nigerian ports 

Goods worth more than 5 trillion Naira are still stranded at the Apapa port.

If we spend $2 billion on reducing congestion fixing infrastructure at the Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne and Port-Harcourt ports, I’m sure we’ll get better value from it than the Niger Rail line.

  1. Nigerian rail lines

Abuja to Lagos is still not connected by rail.

Lagos to Ibadan, Abuja to Jos, Abuja to Lokoja, Port-harcourt to Warri, Onitsha to Aba, these are the rail lines we should be speeding up action on. It makes no sense if rail transport within Nigeria is left undeveloped at the expense of rail transport with another country.

  1. Ghana

Nigeria’s biggest trading partner in West Africa is Ghana. Ghana has become one of our top ten trading partners over the last ten months, importing almost ₦900 billion Naira worth of non-crude oil products from Nigeria. It baffles me why we are not cementing trade ties with this country.

If the argument is that this rail line is for trade in crude oil, Niger produces only 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day, far less than the 1.9 million barrels of oil Nigeria turns out daily. So how exactly is Niger a significant oil producing country? 

Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen stories.


One year ago, we left Nigeria for an 80-day adventure across West Africa. Something is coming. Unshared stories. New perspectives. Limited series. 10 episodes. Check out: Jollofroad.com

 Also, read this: “We Just Dey Start” – We Went On Jollof Road, What Next?

Doyin Olagunju

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