Niger state radio says China's CNPC investing $200 mln on road project

NIAMEY (Reuters) - China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will invest 100 billion CFA francs to construct roads in eastern Niger, where it operates an oil field and refinery, Niger state radio said on Wednesday.

This was the first indication of the size of CNPC's investment in the project agreed in 2011 to build 185 km (115 miles) of road linking the region of Diffa, where it operates the Agadem field, with neighbouring Chad.

"This route will improve the safety of road transport, promote cross-border trade between Niger, Chad and Nigeria, and boost the living conditions for the local population," Yacouba Assoumane, governor of Diffa, told state radio at a ceremony to mark the start of construction.

CNPC did not respond immediately to Reuters' calls to seek comment on the investment.

The start of construction comes as President Mahamadou Issoufou's government is pushing for companies in the uranium mining and oil sectors to contribute more to the infrastructure of Niger, one of the world's poorest countries.

It has called on France's state-owned uranium company Areva to repair the road to its mines in the northern town of Arlit.