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‘France in darkness’ in 2023 after Niger ‘cuts’ uranium supply for nuclear plants? No, video of 2022 power cut

IN SHORT: A false online claim says coup leaders in Niger have cut its supply of uranium to France, which is largely dependent on nuclear power. But the video going viral in August 2023 as proof of the claim was shot in December 2022.

“Paris BLACKOUT After Niger Cut Uranium Supply To France Beginning Of The End.” That’s the caption of a video posted on YouTube on 14 August 2023.

The video is of two identical TikTok clips of groups of people chattering in the darkened streets of a city at night. The first has English text and the second French text.

“And it has started. ‘Blackout’ in Paris UK next?” reads the first. “No electricity in France.”

The second reads: “L'importance de l'uranium au Niger. Paris dans l'obscurite. 125,000 foyers dans le noir.”

This roughly translates as: “The importance of uranium from Niger. Paris in darkness. 125,000 homes in the dark.”

The French version of the clip can also be seen on TikTok here and here.

The clip has also appeared in Facebook videos with the same claim.

“Parts of France in darkness, power cuts due to no uranium from Niger to power their power plants,” reads the caption to one version, dated 14 August.

“BREAKING NEWS: FRANCE IN DARKNESS AFTER NIGER CUT OFF URANIUM SUPPLY,” reads another, from 22 August.

In late July, the elected government of the West African country of Niger was overthrown in a coup led by the presidential guard. Government leaders were detained and a junta, or military authority, assumed power.

The coup was almost immediately condemned by the Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, by the African Union, and by countries across the world. These included France, Niger’s former colonial ruler.

France and other members of the European Union also cut off financial aid to Niger.

There were almost immediate concerns that Niger could in return end its supply of uranium to France. 

An online rumour claimed that the West African country had already done so. But several fact-checks have found no evidence of this.

FranceNiger_False

Uranium, Niger and France

Uranium is a radioactive metal used to fuel nuclear weapons and generate electricity from reactors in nuclear power plants.

France is highly dependent on nuclear power, producing about 70% of its electricity from 56 reactors.

Niger mines about 5% of the global supply of uranium, according to the World Nuclear Association. It’s the world’s seventh-largest producer of the metal. Corporations based in France, Canada, Japan and China  – as well as Niger – own large shares of the country’s six  uranium exploration and production companies.

Over the past decade, about 20% of the uranium France imported to power its nuclear reactors has come from Niger.

But does the video really show the French capital of Paris in darkness in August 2023 after Niger cut off its uranium supply to France?

December 2022 power cuts during electricity squeeze

The TikTok handle @FMOTL appears in the first version of the clip.

Africa Check looked through videos uploaded by @FMOTL and found the clip. It’s dated 15 December 2022, more than six months before the coup in Niger.

To find the original video, we took a screengrab of its first frame and ran it through Google Lens.

This led us to a video posted on X on 8 December.

The post is in French. It translates as: “My street has been dark for 10 minutes. (Paris 4).”

 

 

We then googled “power cut Paris December 2022”.

This led us to several news reports of blackouts in Paris on 8 December 2022.

In 2022 electricity production in France was at its lowest in 30 years, largely due to maintenance work in its nuclear power stations.

The video shows a limited blackout in Paris in December 2022. It is not evidence that there is “no electricity in France” after Niger supposedly cut its uranium supply in 2023.

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