Niger students protest French group's uranium revenues

Some 2,000 students held a protest in Niger's capital Niamey on Friday against French nuclear group Areva to demand their country get a bigger slice of its uranium mining revenues.

Marchers held aloft placards saying "No to exploitation and neo-colonialism" and "No to Areva".

"The partnership in the mining of uranium is very unbalanced to the detriment of our country," said Mahamadou Djibo Samaila, secretary general of the Union of Niamey University Students that organised the protest.

He said uranium mining revenues accounted for only five percent of the government's budget.

"Niger has to shoulder its responsibilities and rewrite its mining contracts and impose itself," he said.

The government of Niger, one of Africa's poorest countries, complained late last year that its four-decade-old deal with Areva to mine its vast uranium deposits was unfair and should be changed.

The French group, one of the top uranium producers in the world, last month offered 35 million euros ($45 million) to Niger to help secure its mining sites in the northern desert Agadez region, close to the border with Mali, where France launched a military operation against Islamist militant groups.

France has also sent special forces to protect Areva's facilities in Niger following the January hostage-taking and killing of dozens of foreigners at a gas plant in Algeria.