Benin is a country in West Africa with a surface of 112,622 km² and a population of 8.85 million. Roughly one quarter of the population lives along the country's coast line. Since adopting democracy in 1990, Benin has undergone a process of reform and decentralisation. Cotton is the main source of income for more than 2.5 million people and the country's principal export product. Agriculture still accounts for more than half of Benin's GDP. This lack of diversification is the main reason for the fragility of the country's economy, in particular since the crisis in the cotton market.
The Country Strategy Paper for Benin (2008-2013) presents the strategic framework for cooperation between the European Union and Benin under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). EU assistance concentrates mainly on governance and local development as well as infrastructure and regional communications. On the one hand, the aid strategy will contribute to strengthening the government as a political, economic, social, financial and judicial regulator, especially in public finance and justice. On the other hand, it will help improving infrastructure, especially maintaining the primary regional road network and developing rural transport. The EU will also support the government’s macroeconomic reform programme via general budget support.
Additional aid will be granted for projects to improve competitiveness, social cohesion, the environment and civil society.
The multi-annual indicative programme for Benin under the 10th EDF amounts to €380,37 million to address these priorities.
All EU projects in Benin also address cross-cutting issues such as gender, environment and capacity building.
Since independence in 1960, Benin has received more than €900 million of EU aid through the EDF, as well as regional development funds and support from the general budget of the EU. EU development strategy in Benin has been largely unchanged since 1995 (under the 8th and 9th EDF), concentrating on road transport, health and macroeconomic budget support.
The Country Strategy Paper for Benin (2002-2007) gave priority to transport, health and sanitation under 9th EDF funding. In the transport sector aid activities were focused on the construction and improvement of an asphalted roads network and rural roads. Examples are the Banikoara-Kandi road and the improvements to the northwest exit from Cotonou. In the sanitation sector, EU aid has been used for building drainage systems in parts of Cotonou that are subject to flooding and the construction of water supply systems in semi-urban areas. In the health sector actions have been concentrated on improving administration and efficiency of health systems in rural areas.
Other sources of information
For more information on EU relations with Benin and further details on projects and programmes in Benin funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please contact the Delegation of the European Union to Benin, which is responsible for co-operation activities in the country.