Economic and Political Overview

flag Benin Benin: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Benin’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals have helped the country achieve strong economic growth despite the recent external shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. After reaching 7.2% in 2021, GDP growth remained resilient in 2022, slowing down to 5.7% (IMF). Economic growth is expected to accelerate to 6.2% in 2023 and 6% in 2024, driven by agroindustry, construction, and port-related activity (IMF). Higher infrastructure spending and a wider regional recovery will support activity (The Economist Intelligence Unit).

In 2022, despite a challenging global and regional context, Benin’s economy remained resilient, supported by
a strong investment push. Investments in the electricity grid and freight transport have driven growth (Coface). In July 2022, a blended 42-month Extended Fund Facility and Extended Credit Facility was approved by the IMF to help Benin address financing needs, support the country’s National Development Plan centered on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and catalyze donor support (IMF). Reflecting the spillovers of the war in Ukraine, inflation increased from 1.7% in 2021 to 5% in 2022, but remained subdued owing to a strong harvest season and subsidy measures adopted by the government (IMF). Households have benefited from subsidies on agricultural inputs and fuels, as well as from tariff reductions (Coface). According to IMF forecast, inflation is expected to decrease to 1.8% in 2023 and 2% in 2024. Budget deficit decreased only slightly, from -5.7% GDP in 2021 to -5.5% GDP in 2022, as policy remained accommodative to cushion the impact of the repeated shocks (IMF). Consolidation efforts are scheduled to resume in 2023, with a forecast budget balance of -4.3% GDP (IMF). Public debt increased from 49.9% GDP in 2021 to 54.8% GDP in 2022, and it is expected to slowly decrease to 55.6% GDP in 2023 and 54.3% GDP in 2024 (IMF). Public debt is divided equally between multilateral loans, external obligations and domestic obligations and it should stabilise thanks to continued fiscal consolidation and growth (Coface). Around 20% higher than the previous one, the 2023 Budget resumed the consolidation of public finances while allocating substantial resources to critical social and security-related spending. The priorities remain the promotion of high-potential sectors such as agriculture, tourism and digital economy; the development of key transport, energy and sanitation infrastructure; the reduction of poverty and social vulnerability; and fiscal consolidation.

Despite many efforts to reduce it, the poverty rate remains as high as 38.5% according to World Bank data. In 2021, the unemployment rate in the country was estimated at 1.8% (ILO estimate). However, underemployment rate stood at more than 70%, and informal employment rate at more than 90% (World Bank).

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 17.4419.9421.7923.6325.59
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 6.35.56.36.06.0
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,3031,4491,5401,6241,711
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 54.253.052.451.450.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a5.02.52.02.0
Current Account (billions USD) -0.98-1.19-1.24-1.22-1.25
Current Account (in % of GDP) -5.6-6.0-5.7-5.2-4.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Benin’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture. This sector accounts for 29.4% of Benin’s GDP and employs an estimated 38% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). The country has a fertile land, and a third of Benin’s territory is suitable for agriculture (World Bank). Around half of the population rely on subsistence farming for their livelihood, whereas cotton is the main crop and the key export commodity. The cotton sector contributes to 40% of the GDP. Other cultivations include cashew nuts, corn, cassava, yams, beans, palm oil, and peanuts. The export of raw cashew nuts will be banned in 2024 to promote local processing (Coface).

The industrial sector contributes 17% of GDP and gives employment to roughly 18% of the active population. Textiles, food processing, construction materials, and cement are the main sub-sectors.

Services (dominated by trade and transport) account for 47.3% of Benin’s GDP and almost 43% of total employment.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 28.1 22.5 49.3
Value Added (in % of GDP) 26.9 17.0 46.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.8 7.9 6.0

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 16.6816.8816.3716.5114.63

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
59,6/100
World Rank:
100
Regional Rank:
10

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Benin is open to foreign trade which represents 63% of its GDP (World Bank). The country is a member of various trade organizations including the World Trade Organisation and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The vast majority of its trade passes through the port of Cotonou, the capacity of which the government wants to develop.

Benin mainly exports cotton (61% of total exports), cashew nut, coconut, Brazilian nuts, shea nuts, petroleum products, cement, gold, textile products, and seafood to Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam, Chad, Niger and Egypt. Its main imports are food products (rice, meat, frozen fish), oil products, drugs, vehicles and capital goods from India, China, France, Belgium, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. It is also quite active in re-exportation, from Nigeria mainly.

For years now, Benin has had a structural trade deficit. In 2021, the trade deficit in goods amounted to USD 888 million (WTO). This is mainly due to low exports which are largely made up of low-cost agricultural products, and the country’s heavy reliance on foreign countries for its oil and energy supply. According to WTO data, in 2021, Benin exported goods with a total value of USD 3.4 billion while it imported goods worth USD 4.3 billion. Concerning services, Benin exported USD 555 million worth of services in 2021 and imported USD 984 million worth of services (WTO). In 2022, net imports deteriorated due to the post-pandemic reduction in shortages, food and energy inflation, and the depreciation of the CFA franc against the dollar (Coface).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,3753,9323,5554,3704,784
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,3443,0522,9963,4343,547
Imports of Services (million USD) 769806790931982
Exports of Services (million USD) 503528510512540
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.83.4-19.816.818.5
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.08.6-25.012.619.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.534.125.027.129.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.329.619.920.921.7
Trade Balance (million USD) -556-444-156-352n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -821-722-436-772n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 61.863.744.848.150.9

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Bangladesh 45.3%
India 11.9%
China 6.1%
Egypt 4.5%
Pakistan 4.2%
See More Countries 28.0%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
India 15.7%
China 13.1%
France 8.1%
United Arab Emirates 6.7%
Nigeria 5.1%
See More Countries 51.3%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

0.9 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 64.8%
Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or...Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or not broken (excl. edible nuts, olives, soya beans, groundnuts, copra, linseed, rape or colza seeds and sunflower seeds) 4.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 4.3%
Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 3.6%
Oilcake and other solid residues, whether or not...Oilcake and other solid residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the extraction of vegetable fats or oils (excl. from soya-bean oil and groundnut oil) 3.2%
See More Products 19.3%
3.7 bn USD of products imported in 2022
RiceRice 18.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 15.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.3%
Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilisers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilisers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilisers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 3.2%
Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species...Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls, fresh, chilled or frozen 3.0%
See More Products 57.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
List of Benin's Ministries
Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INSTAD)
Central Bank
West Africa Central Bank
Stock Exchange
Regional Securities Exchange
Search Engines
Google Benin
Economic Portals
Actu Benin
BBC - Benin profile

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Patrice TALON (since 6 April 2016) - the president is both chief of state and head of government 
Next Election Dates
Presidential: April 2026
National Assembly: April 2023
Main Political Parties
Benin is formally a multy-party country, however opposition parties have no real chance of gaining power. The main parties are:

Alliance for a Triumphant Benin or ABT : leader Abdoulaye BIO TCHANE
African Movement for Development and Progress or MADEP : leader Sefou FAGBOHOUN
Benin Renaissance or RB : leader Lehady SOGLO
Cowrie Force for an Emerging Benin or FCBE : leader Yayi BONI
Democratic Renewal Party or PRD : leader Adrien HOUNGBEDJI
National Alliance for Development and Democracy or AND : leader Valentin Aditi HOUDE
New Consciousness Rally or NC : leader Pascal KOUPAKI
Patriotic Awakening or RP : leader Janvier YAHOUEDEOU
Social Democrat Party or PSD : leader Emmanuel GOLOU
Sun Alliance or AS : leader Sacca LAFIA
Union Makes the Nation or UN : leader Adrien HOUNGBEDJI (includes PRD, MADEP)
United Democratic Forces or FDU : leader Mathurin NAGO
Type of State
Democratic Republic.
Executive Power
The President of the Republic is elected for a five-year term by universal suffrage with uninominal majority ballot in two rounds, for maximum two terms (whether consecutive or not). He is the head of state, the holder of the executive power, the head of the Government, and with this title he shall determine and conduct the politics of the nation (art. 54). After an advisory opinion of the National Assembly, the President appoints the members of the Government.
Legislative Power
The legislative power in Benin is vested in the parliament, which is composed of a single chamber called the National Assembly. It is composed of 83 deputies elected every four years by proportional representation in 24 multi-member constituencies.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
114/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
4/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Benin, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: February 2024