Buying and Selling

flag Benin Benin: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Benin is a member of the WTO, the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
Non Tariff Barriers
OECD’s Trade Facilitation Indicators shows that Benin is below the average performance of Sub Saharan countries in areas such as procedures, fees and charges, governance and impartiality, and information availability.
The 2018 World Bank Logistics Performance Index - which measures countries’ trade logistics efficiency - ranked Benin 76th out of 160 countries.
According to the World Bank, the most imposed non-tariff measures in Benin include inspection requirements, authorization requirements, and technical measures.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Benin is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has a common external tariff scheme with 5 tariff rates, as follows:
0% - essential social commodities;
5% - essential commodities, raw materials, capital goods
10% - intermediate products
20% - consumer goods
35% - specific goods for economic development
According to data by the World Bank, the applied average tariff in Benin was 11.57% (2017, latest data available).

Customs Classification
Benin is a member of the World Customs Organisation and does comply with the harmonised customs system.
Import Procedures

The documents required to import goods into Benin generally include:

  • invoice
  • bill of lading (B/L)
  • inspection certificate from Bureau Veritas
  • the importer’s import license
  • attestation of origin of the goods
  • single payslip (BFU)
  • electronic cargo tracking note (BESC)
  • animal or plant health inspection certificate (if applicable).
Importing Samples
Benin is not part of the Carnet ATA convention. Products allowed for temporary admission are not subject to custom duties. After their use, they must be re-exported or destroyed, with the process being certified by a custom agent.
For Further Information
Benin Customs
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Benin has a population of around 12.8 million people, with a GDP per capita (PPP) estimated at Int$ 3,580 by the IMF (2021), one of the lowest in the world. The country is classified as low-income by the World Bank, with 38.5% of the population below the poverty line in 2019.
The Beninese consumers are relatively young: according to data by the CIA, the proportion of children below the age of 14 is 45.56%, 20.36% of the population is between 15 and 24, 28.54% between 25 and 54, while only 5.54% are 55 or older (2020 est.); and it is equally split between men and women.
The population is mostly located in the south (especially in and around the cities on the Atlantic coast), while most of the north remains sparsely populated with higher concentrations of residents in the west. The urban population is 47.8% of the total population (World Bank, 2019). Only 42.3% of the population aged 15 and over can read and write (World Bank, latest data available).
Consumer Behaviour
Most Beninese consumers have little disposable income and are extremely price-sensitive, both for groceries (which compose the majority of households’ basket) and for durable consumer goods.
However, there is a growing number of consumers for higher-end merchandise.
Availability and proximity are two other important purchasing factors, with retailers and consumers typically clustering in established public markets.
Employing direct marketing techniques in Benin may not be efficient due to underdeveloped telecommunications and postal and IT infrastructure. TV, radio and newspapers remain the main forms of advertising, but also cell phone text messages can be effective.
Direct personal engagement with current and potential clients is important. Promotional materials and technical documents should be in French. Beninese consumers may expect maintenance services to be included in the purchase price of durable goods.
In general, for foreign companies willing to enter the Beninese market it is recommendable to partner with a reputable agent or distributor who is fluent in both French and English and familiar with local business practices.
Consumers Associations
League for the Defense of Consumers (LDCB)
The Voice of Consumers (La Voix Du Consommateur)
Main Advertising Agencies
Afreak Consulting & Communication

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
The retail market in Benin has been growing in recent years, especially in the area of Porto Novo and Cotonou. In fact, outside of bigger towns most Beninese still buy from local markets (for the food that they cannot cultivate themselves by subsistence farming). The majority of products sold in supermarkets are imported and thus more expensive: for this reason, the clientele is composed mainly by civil servants and other members of the middle class, who have a higher disposable income. In general, Beninese buy essential products in local markets, and non-basic products (like meat, cosmetics, etc.) in supermarkets.
Erevan Bénin is the biggest chain in the country, and it operates in partnership with the French firm Carrefour.
Market share

The main supermarket chains active in Benin include:

  • Attidza
  • CBND
  • Erevan Hypermarché
  • Étoile
  • Mayfair
  • Megamart
  • Starlight
  • Unidis
  • Yamaya Supermarché
Retail Sector Organisations
National Confederation of Benin's Employers (CONEB)

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Internet access

According to the Digital 2019 report for Benin by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, out of a population of 11.6 million people, 33% have access to the internet.
In the country there are around 9.3 million mobile subscriptions, with 30% of the total population accessing the internet through mobile (with 27% having access to a broadband connection). Social media users are estimated at 11% of the population (1.3 million; with 1.2 million using social medias on their mobile phones).
The social media advertising audience is equal to 1.2 million for Facebook, with much lower figures for other platforms (230,000 for LinkedIn, 160,000 for Instagram and 20,000 for Twitter). According to the Mobile Connectivity Index, Benin has an overall index score of 37.3 out of a maximum of 100 (in particular, the IT infrastructure network has a score of 32.7/100, and the affordability of internet connections has a rate of 54.3/100).
It has been reported that the government occasionally blocks internet connections (especially for social medias), as in the case of the 2019 elections.
The most popular web search engines in Madagascar are Google (96.8%), Bing and Yahoo (1.6% and 1.1%, respectively).

E-commerce market

E-commerce is still in its infancy in Benin, as the country lacks adequate ICT and online payment infrastructures, as well as proper regulations (the government has included the objective to develop e-commerce in its Action Plan).
According to the
Digital 2019 report by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, online payment is barely used in Benin: only 4.5% of the population has purchased on the internet or paid bills online, with 6.1% of the population having a credit card (however, 18% have a mobile money account).
The UN Conference on Trade and Development 2018 B2C e-Commerce Index ranks Benin 138th out of 151 countries and 33rd in the African continent for its readiness and capacity to support online trade. B2B e-commerce is also almost non-existent.
Most payments are made by cash on delivery, however the government is planning to implement a national platform for electronic payments (PNPE) in order to connect financial institutions and mobile money providers.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Port of Cotonou
Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport (COO)
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure
Air Transport Organisations
National Agency for Civil Aviation (ENAC)
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production

According to data by the World Bank, the agricultural sector accounts for an estimated 22.6% of Benin’s GDP. The main cultivations are cotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, and peanuts. Industry contributes 21.5% of GDP, with textiles, food processing, construction materials, and cement being the main sub-sectors. Services account 46.2% of the country’s GDP.


To search directories by industry in Benin, check out our service Business Directories.

Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Benin
General Professional Associations
National Confederation of Benin's Employers (CONEB)

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Latest Update: March 2024