The United State military has entered into an agreement with the government of Niger republic to establish temporary $100 million drone base in Agadez, Central Niger.
Reuters reported that the drone base is aimed at helping the West African country protect its borders against militants.
Niger along with Nigeria is faced with Boko Haram threat across its southern border and al-Qaeda threat from the desert.
U.S. Africa Command spokesperson in an email response to Reuters said: “At the request of, and in close coordination with, the Government of Niger, United States Africa Command is establishing a temporary, expeditionary cooperative security location in Agadez, Niger.
“Agadez is an ideal, central location to enable ISR collection (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) to face the security threat across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region,” she added.
The report noted that “the $100 million covered initial costs for construction, fuel and equipment.”
Niger is the first West African country the US is building drone bases after it has built base in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The United States first said it was considering establishing a drone facility adjacent to an existing Agadez airbase in 2014.
It already has forces in Niger’s capital, Niamey and will eventually relocate them to Agadez, the U.S. Africa Command spokesperson added.
Intelligence gathered by the drones will be shared with other partners in the region such as Nigeria, Chad, Mali among others, she said.
Agadez is also a major transit point for African migrants seeking a northwards path towards Europe.
The new facility is the latest example of the United States’ deepening military ties with the fragile Sahel region, a semi-arid band stretching from Senegal to Sudan.