Cotonou, Benin (COO)
Benin (previously known as Dahomey) is one of Africa’s most stable democracies and has been praised by IMF chief Christine Lagarde as ‘a partner who keeps its promises’. Benin has a population of around 12 million people, and is located on the coast of West Africa, sharing land borders with Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Togo. While the nation’s official capital is Porto-Novo, Cotonou is Benin’s largest city, the seat of government and a transport hub. Read on to find out more about this small country which has a National Voodoo Day.
Benin is a young country, with almost 65% of its population under the age of 25. It is also poor: approximately 40% of Benin’s population lives below the poverty line. Importantly, however, Benin is stable and is taking positive steps to improve its economy and the welfare of its people.
For example: only one third of Benin’s population has access to electricity, and total consumption is low due to limited access and availability. So, in 2015, Benin signed the Benin Power Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation for $375 million. This Compact is designed to strengthen the national utility service provider, attract private sector investment, fund infrastructure investments in electricity generation and distribution, and develop off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households. The Compact constitutes MCC’s largest investment in solar power and its largest off-grid electrification project.
In April 2017, Benin signed an economic and financial programme worth more than $150m with the IMF and has since been praised by the IMF for its commitments to restore finances and accommodate domestic and foreign investment. The government also passed a slew of laws to implement liberal reforms, in spite of public protest.
In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, encourage new information and communication technology, and establish independent power producers. The reforms appear to be on track: the IMF has predicted 6% growth in real GDP for the Beninese economy in 2018 and 2019, higher than 2017, although issues remain.
Click here for an excellent and in-depth overview of Benin’s imports and exports from MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity. <https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/ben/#Imports>