US to build $100m surveillance drone base in Niger
The US military is reportedly investing $100m in a new base for surveillance drones in Agadez, central Niger.
The proposed investment represents the US commitment to help the West African country in its fight against militant groups, Reuters reported.
It will be used for the base's construction, as well as acquisition of fuel and equipment.
Niger is often targeted by jihadist group Boko Haram across its southern border with Nigeria, as well as roaming al Qaeda-linked groups in its desert regions.
Reuters quoted a US Africa Command spokesperson as saying: "At the request of, and in close coordination with, the Government of Niger, US Africa Command is establishing a temporary, expeditionary cooperative security location in Agadez, Niger.”
The US initially planned to set up a drone facility close to an existing Agadez airbase in 2014.
It has already deployed military personnel in Niger's capital Niamey and plans to relocate them to Agadez, Reuters reported citing the US Africa Command spokesperson.
The drones will conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Information from drone missions will be shared with other partners in the region, such as Nigeria, Chad and Mali in order to strengthen security across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region.
In addition to the US, France has deployed 3,500 troops across the Sahel.