In Paris, donors pledge USD 11 billion to boost the economy of Benin

Jun 17, 2014

Cotton accounts for a large chunk of Benin’s economy. Photo: UNDP Benin

Meeting in Paris, the international community promised to contribute USD 11 billion to support the economic recovery of Benin, exceeding the small West African nation’s fundraising goals.

Held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Paris, the Roundtable was chaired by the President of Benin, Boni Yayi. It was attended by members of the Government, international organizations like the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World International Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African West Bank Development (BOAD), the Benin international and private investors, as well as members of the diaspora.

Benin's Minister for Development, Marcel de Souza said that "the idea of organizing this roundtable comes from the Government’s desire to lay the foundations of a prosperous and sustainable economy, aiming for rates of economic growth strong enough to reverse the curve of poverty and unemployment."

While economic growth rose to 5 percent in 2013, that level is still not sufficient to create enough jobs or to substantially reduce poverty, affecting about 35 percent of the population. Almost 60 percent of the youth in Benin are unemployed.

The Government aims to boost economic growth to 8 percent and reduce the poverty rate to 25 percent over the same period.

To revive the economy, the Government of Benin also plans to invest in priority sectors such as transport, energy, agriculture and tourism. The country has many advantages, including its proximity to Nigeria and the entire West African sub-region, in addition to its political stability, macroeconomic stability and low inflation.

In terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, Benin has made significant progress with the implementation of several initiatives such as free primary education for girls and free caesarean sections for mothers giving birth. The objectives relating to universal primary education, child health and access to clean water can be achieved by 2015 if current efforts are maintained.

Given the limitations of development aid, the contribution of the Beninese diaspora has become a central issue for development financing. Statistics show that remittances from the Beninese diaspora, the equivalent of 4 million people, represent 2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
The Government said it wishes to involve the diaspora in the development and economy of Benin.

This initiative is strongly supported by UNDP, represented in Paris by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Regional Director for Africa and Odile Sorgho-Moulinier, UNDP Resident Representative in Benin.

"UNDP support in this process shows our deep conviction that we must fully integrate this powerful instrument, the diaspora, at the forefront of our development financing efforts," said Mr. Dieye.

The initiative will aim to create mechanisms to facilitate and better focus the diaspora’s investments. The Government is considering measures for the benefit of Beninese expatriates, including the improvement of the delivery of administrative documents, tax benefits for investors operating in strategic sectors supported by the State, and ease of access to special economic zones .

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