On June 9, 2014, the President of Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi, paid a working visit to the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Tunis, where he met AfDB President Donald Kaberuka and members of the management team. Discussions focused on AfDB participation and support at the roundtable to be held in Paris from June 17 to 19, 2014 on the funding of development projects in Benin.
The Paris meeting aims to mobilise 2,900 billion CFA francs (approximately US $6 billion), needed for the country's development investment programme for the period 2014-2018. The goal is to support the economy of Benin in its quest for strong growth and job creation. The total cost of the investment plan is 7,950 billion CFA francs (approx. US $16 billion).
"The transformation of the Beninese economy will be through infrastructure, energy, education and health. Benin cannot go to this roundtable without AfDB," said Yayi, noting that he had come to Tunis to formalise AfDB's invitation.
Vital networks for the economy
During discussions, the Beninese delegation presented key projects in the areas of transport, energy, tourism, agriculture and health. It placed particular emphasis on the importance of road infrastructure, stressing the need for funding for the route through the city of Parakou and the Burkina Faso-Benin cotton road. "These two road networks are vital to the Beninese economy," said Benin Development Minister and AfDB Governor Marcel de Souza.
Yayi said he was delighted at the cooperation with AfDB and at the major contribution the Bank was making towards his country's transformation. As evidence of this he mentioned the significant portfolio of 266 million Units of Account (approximately US $410 million) in key sectors. "For AfDB projects to fully meet their objectives, in terms of improving beneficiaries' living conditions, we are committing ourselves here to take control of the governance of projects."
In welcoming this commitment by President Boni Yayi, Kaberuka commended the roundtable initiative and the relevance of the proposed investment programme. The AfDB President also underlined the Bank's commitment to supporting development investment and further promoting non-sovereign loans with private investors in Benin. "The AfDB will be present at the roundtable and will contribute to its full success, to secure tangible results," he added.
Strong, sustainable growth
The Beninese Government estimates that the country will now have to optimise its new economic assets to secure strong, sustainable and inclusive growth by 2018. "The recent underground survey of Benin revealed significant oil deposits and mineral resources. And our country has valleys that are sufficiently well watered to ensure not only Benin's food security but that of its neighbouring countries as well,"said Minister de Souza.
The AfDB contribution to the funding sought - 2,900 billion CFA francs - will essentially come from the African Development Fund (ADF) and the AfDB private sector funding arm.
Cooperation between AfDB and Benin goes back to 1972. Since then, funding by AfDB has amounted to more than 550 billion CFA francs (approximately US $1,140 billion) in the areas of transport, agriculture, social policy, electricity, water and sanitation, finance, industry and other multi-sectoral operations.