Country Overview

Benin is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. It has an estimated population of 10.6 million inhabitants as of 2014. With the support of its partners, Benin has been able to make important economic and structural reforms and sustain its economic growth rates over the last decade.

Political Context

Benin continues to enjoy a stable and democratic government. Since the end of the Marxist-Leninist regime in 1989, it has organized five presidential elections, seven legislative elections and three local elections peacefully. Current president Thomas Boni Yayi is ending his second term in power, and new elections are slated for February 2016. Legislative and local elections were held respectively in April and June 2015.

Economic Overview

Real GDP grew by 5.4% in 2012, 5.6% in 2013, and an estimated 5.5% in 2014. Growth has been primarily driven by trade and agriculture. Continued improvements at the port of Cotonou have increased traffic and boosted efficiency, while favorable weather conditions have strengthened agricultural output. Cotton production was 240,000 tons in 2012/13, 307,000 tons in 2013/14 and is estimated at 393,000 tons for the 2014/15 season. Benin’s fiscal stance remains stable, and the overall fiscal deficit is estimated at 3.1% of GDP in 2014, following 3.7% in 2013 and 2.4% in 2012. Customs revenues slightly underperformed over 2014 as have domestic tax revenues. This was due to a drop in informal re-exports to Nigeria. Thanks to prudent fiscal policy, the overall budget deficit and balance of payments deficit remain at acceptable levels, and sovereign debt remains below 30% of GDP. Inflation was moderate at about 1% in 2013 and -1.1% in 2014, thanks in large part to low food and oil prices.

Social Context

Poverty remains widespread in Benin, with national poverty rates of 37.5% in 2006, 35.2% in 2009 and 36.2% in 2011. Female-headed households experience lower levels of poverty (28%, compared to 38% for male-headed households), though women remain more vulnerable and continue to suffer from a lack of economic opportunities. Women are also underrepresented in high-level decision making positions. The education and health sectors continue to represent a significant share of annual public expenditure (on average 23% of public expenditure is allocated to education and 7% to the health sector). Significant efforts are needed to ensure more equity in the geographical distribution of resources and greater effectiveness and efficiency in the management of these two sectors.

Development Challenges

Benin’s outlook for 2015 is clouded by the impact of declining global oil prices on Nigeria’s economy. The country is highly sensitive to trade policy decisions in Nigeria, as about 80% of its imports are destined for Nigeria via informal cross-border trade. As a result, minor policy changes in Nigeria can have a considerable impact in Benin. The declining world cotton prices is also a factor that can affect growth, and the ongoing government operations in the cotton value chain could have a significant fiscal impact. Despite the progress noted in the Doing Business 2015 report, Benin’s business environment continues to face significant challenges.

The government needs to accelerate reforms in order to access the $12 billion pledges made during the June 2014 Consultative Group in Paris. To guard against debt distress, financing plans for scaling up investments will need to be highly concessional. The country also needs a regulatory framework to attract public-private partnerships. The priority axes of reforms identified by the 2015 public expenditure management and financial assessment report include improvement of internal revenue collection, restructuring the financial control system, improving the governance for autonomous public institutions, and enhancing the accounting and budget information systems. 

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

World Bank Group Engagement in Benin

The World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2013-2016 for Benin is organized around three main pillars: (i) governance and public sector capacity; (ii) sustainable growth, competitiveness and employment; and (iii) access to basic social services and social inclusion. The current portfolio comprises of 12 active projects for a total commitment of $517.16 million, and covers the following sectors: budget support, urban development, community development, environment, telecommunications, youth employment, health, nutrition, capacity building, energy, and regional transport. 

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

IFC’s current strategy for Benin focuses on: (i) partnering with financial intermediaries to improve access to finance for enterprises, (ii) providing capacity-building to financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector and promote business growth, (iii) supporting the development of infrastructure to attract investments (port, electricity, telecom), and (iv) strengthening the investment climate in collaboration with the World Bank.

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA):

MIGA’s current portfolio consists of three investments in the tourism, telecommunications, and services sectors, for a gross exposure of $8.54 million.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

The World Bank Group has contributed to Benin’s development performance in the following sectors.


The World Bank result-based financing approach is yielding good results in the health sector. The Benin Health System Performance Project ($43.8 million) launched in September 2011, with the goal of increasing the coverage of quality maternal, neonatal, and child health care services. It also aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health. As of August 2015, the total amount disbursed is 58% and about 75% is committed. The main component of this operation supports a Results-Based Financing (RBF) approach in eight of Benin’s 34 health districts. Many indicators of this operation have exceeded their targets while the rest is on track. 

Through the RBF intervention, major improvements in the quality of care have been documented in all facilities covered. The rate of antenatal care visits complying with quality standards was over 30% (baseline 5% in 2010, end target of 25%) and the availability of health workers, essential drugs, and equipment has also improved. A mixed methods survey conducted in 2015 revealed that the average availability of essential drugs in the eight districts covered reached 78%, while the average availability of essential equipment was 71% (for a target of 80%), and the availability of health workers was 86%. As for quantitative indicators, results from a recent health survey have confirmed that the RBF districts have significantly improved their performance: for instance, while the immunization rate in the country is only 40%, the RBF districts have increased this rate to 86%. To strengthen the impact of the RBF intervention on populations’ health, new and innovative interventions are being implemented, including contracting with private health facilities and communities to extend health services to more beneficiaries.

Given its success, the RBF approach is being scaled up nationally with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. The World Bank is playing a key role in convening this harmonized support.

Basic Services Delivery

World Bank investments in community-driven development strengthens local governments and helps improve the delivery of basic services for the poor. The Decentralized Community Driven Services Project (DCDSP) became effective in January 2013. After a two-year implementation period, the project is making good progress to improve access to decentralized basic social services.

As of July 2015, nearly 100% of the initial financing ($46 million) has been disbursed, as well as 48% of the additional financing ($30 million, approved in February 2014). To date, 160 communal infrastructure sub-projects have been approved, and 52 of these are already completed. At the community level, the first wave of 230 sub-projects are well underway in 174 communities. The majority of these projects consist of school infrastructure (50%) and the rest is split between water, health, feeder roads, and agriculture. The cash transfers under the pilot social safety net program is well underway in 125 communities (for an end target of 120 communities) in the 12 pilot communes, and have reached about 13,000 poor households. Since February 2015, this program gives a monthly unconditional transfer of about $7 to each beneficiary to provide them with additional resources during the agricultural lean season. Moreover, they have the option to earn more resources by participating in labor intensive public works identified by the communities from a menu of eligible activities including feeder roads maintenance and community agriculture. So far, 48 of such works have been implemented, each lasting for about 3-4 months and providing each participant a pay of $1.3 per 7-hour a day for a minimum period of 48 days. Efforts are still underway to achieve results that are beneficial for the poor populations. 

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

The European Union, African Development Bank, United Nations agencies, bilateral donors, World Bank Group, and IMF are among Benin’s key partners. Non-traditional creditors, such as China and the Islamic Bank, are also increasingly active. Since 2004, annual joint missions of the main donors providing budget support have taken place, and together they monitor the implementation of key structural and sector reforms including aid harmonization for which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in December 2007. At the sector level, joint government-donor reviews are regularly carried out in the core sectors of rural water, health, education, agriculture, transport, and justice. 

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015


Benin: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments