WASHINGTON, July 1, 2019 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* credit of $100 million to support the government of Benin’s efforts to improve access to broadband services in rural communities and to promote the use of digital solutions to improve efficiency of selected value-chains, financial inclusion and access to markets.
The Digital Rural Transformation Project will contribute to increase the productivity and competitiveness of two sectors identified as key enablers of growth: agriculture and ICT. Focused on four value-chains: rice, maize, shea and vegetables, it will enhance access of smallholder farmers to information, financial services and markets, leading to an increase in productivity and sales, and a reduction in post-harvest loss. It will also help Benin extend ICT connectivity and access to digital services in rural areas, including the enhancement of the metropolitan fiber optic loop in the city of Parakou and the densification of the fiber optic infrastructure in downtown and suburban areas of Parakou. About 1.6 million smallholder farmers will benefit from the project which will impact 560,000 workers associated with the four value chains. These numbers include 1,000,000 women farmers and 290,000 women workers.
“Most of the smallholders lack the basic skills needed to use the digital tools and platforms, which results in a very low adoption rate. The project will directly enhance digital infrastructure and provide alternatives to inadequate logistics services. This will positively impact the rural agricultural economy by enabling access to consumer markets at competitive costs”, said Katrina Sharkey, World Bank Country Manager for Benin.
The Project will also support the rehabilitation of about 600 km of rural roads and maintenance of about 2,400 km in a period of four years within the main production areas covered by the project. It will contribute to women’s economic empowerment in agriculture, through the extension of digital connectivity to their communities and provide alternative sources of electrification through solar panels and other innovative and sustainable options. The project will foster the uptake of digital financial services in rural areas, with a focus on women in the agricultural sector.
The project is aligned with the Benin National Plan (2018-2025), the Government’s action plan (PAG 2016-2021) and consistent with the World Bank’s Benin Country Partnership Framework (CPF 2018-2023). It is part of the larger World Bank strategy to accelerate digital transformation in Africa and contributes directly to the goals of the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) Moonshot Initiative. It is designed around the Maximizing Financing for Development (MFD) approach to leverage private investments and optimize the use of public funding.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.