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 at least 10.9 million (2016). Benin has enacted important economic and structural reforms.
Benin has a stable and democratic government. Since the end of a Marxist-Leninist regime in 1989, it has organized six presidential elections, seven legislative elections, and three local elections peacefully. Presidential elections held in March 2016 were won by the multi-millionaire and cotton sector tycoon, Patrice Talon. In December 2016, the new government adopted a Programme d’Actions du Gouvernement (PAG) structured around 45 flagship projects aimed at improving productivity and living conditions. President Talon’s proposals to reform Benin’s political model, however, were rejected by parliament in April 2017. These included the introduction of an independent Auditor General’s Office; a new method of appointing members to the Constitutional Court; the simplification of procedures in the High Court of Justice; and revamping political party funding. Although the socio-political atmosphere remains largely favorable and conducive for reform, economic expectations are high, and there is pressure to reduce high youth unemployment, address poor living standards, accelerate economic growth, and improve the quality of public services.
Benin’s economy relies heavily on its informal re-export and transit trade to Nigeria, which makes up roughly 20 percent of GDP, and on agriculture. The tertiary sector as a whole
Real GDP growth accelerated from 2.1 percent in 2015 to 4 percent in 2016 and 5.6 percent in
Despite moderate GDP growth of 4 to 5 percent annually over the past two decades, poverty is often on the rise. National poverty rates were 37.5 percent in 2006, 35.2 percent in 2009, 36.2 percent in 2011, and 40.1 percent in 2015. Female-headed households experience lower levels of poverty (28 percent compared to 38 percent for male-headed households), but women suffer from a lack of economic opportunities and are underrepresented in high-level decision-making positions. The education and health sectors take a significant share of public expenditure (on average 23 percent is allocated to education and 7 percent to health). More equity is needed in their geographical distribution, as well as greater effectiveness and efficiency in the management of these two sectors.
Benin is vulnerable to exogenous shocks, primarily: adverse weather conditions, terms of trade (cotton and oil prices), and developments in Nigeria, its main trading partner
Last Updated: Apr 24, 2018