The Niger River, the third longest river in Africa after the Nile and Congo, begins in south east Guinea, then runs through Mali, Niger and Nigeria finally ending its 2,600 mile journey as it flows into into the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of Guinea. As the Niger river twists and turns through Mali, its flow is controlled through a series of dams. The Selingue Dam (below) is used for both hydro electric power and irrigation purposes and two others dams at Sotuba south of Bamako and Markala are both used to irrigate neighbouring lands for farming purposes.
Although a land locked country, the presence of the Niger River actually makes Mali Africa's third ranking fish producer and the fishing industry employs thousands of fishermen providing much needed work and income for the poorest in society. After the Niger River leaves Mali is progresses through Niger flowing through its capital Niamey and is joined by a number of tributaries including the Faroul, Dargol, Sirba, Garoubi, and Tapoa. For most of the year the river is very shallow as it runs through Niger, making it unsuitable for transportation and there are a number of rapids. Work is currently being undertaken on the Kandadji dam on the Niger about 112 miles north-west of Niamey which is expected to complete in the next few years and will be over five miles long. The dam is intended to provide water for the dry season as well as irrigation for land downstream in addition to hydroelectric power.
The Niger River then goes on to form the boundary between Niger and Benin before entering Nigeria and completing it journey in the Niger Delta as shown below in this map of west Africa detailing the route of the Niger River. The video below gives a good overview of the Niger river and its role in the daily life of Mali.
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