Benin is part of a group of countries where human development is considered low. The United Nations Development Programme ranked Benin 166 out of 187 countries on its 2012 human development index. Almost half the population of Benin lives on less than US$1.25/day.

Benin's strategic location on the Gulf of Guinea allows the country to generate an annual revenue through re-exportation. The country's economy, however, is unstable, which is due primarily to fluctuations in world markets for the country's cotton production.

Benin has made tremendous progress in democratic governance, particularly with the transparent and peaceful presidential elections held in 2006 and 2011. The government is also increasing its efforts to reduce corruption.

However, although Benin's constitution ensures equality between women and men, in 2010, 30 percent of women over the age of 15 were literate compared to 55 percent of men according to the World Bank, and women's incomes were 66 percent of men's incomes according to the World Economic Forum. A family code was established in 2004 to improve respect for women's rights, but those rights are still too often ignored.

Benin faces environmental problems: desertification in the northern part of the country and deforestation in the southern part. In addition, in 2010, 42 percent of its people were living in cities according to UN-HABITAT, and the urban environment is vulnerable and shows degradation.

Benin may reach some Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The primary school enrolment rate, which was 94 percent in 2010 according to the UN, is exceptionally high compared to other countries in West Africa.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, Benin was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

Canada's international development program in Benin is aligned with the Government of Benin's Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (PDF, 2.8 MB, 173 pages) for 2011-2015. The aim of the strategy is to:

  • Accelerate economic growth
  • Develop infrastructure
  • Strengthen human capital
  • Promote good governance
  • Foster balanced and sustainable development

The goal of Canada's international development program in Benin is to help the country stimulate economic growth by supporting the development of a business-friendly market and the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses.

Economic growth

Canada is providing significant support for microfinance activities, helping to stabilize the sector and monitor the institutions more effectively. This effort includes support for young entrepreneurs to obtain financial services and the development of small businesses that create jobs.

Canada will continue its support for administrative reform, with the expectation that streamlined public administration procedures will help create an environment conducive to economic growth in the country.

Selected examples of expected results

  • Approximately 80 percent of microfinance institutions will be registered and 80 percent of their transactions will be digitized
  • Among disadvantaged populations, recipients of financial services and support for entrepreneurship will double from $500,000 to $1 million by 2016

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Benin adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 35 KB, 23 pages).

In 2007, the country received an average rating for ownership, harmonization and results-based management. The alignment of donors' activities with national systems was rated average/low. Strengthening of mutual accountability for results is recommended.



Achievements 2011-2012

  • Enabled the Faitière des Caisses d'Épargne et de Crédit Agricole Mutuel (FÉCÉCAM) increase its membership by 8% since 2009 and its percentage of profitable credit unions from 44% in 2009 to 75%, with a target of 95% by 2016.

Achievements 2010-2011

  • Helped La Faitière des Caisses d'Épargne et de Crédit Agricole Mutuel (FÉCÉCAM) become a microfinance leader in West Africa with a risk portfolio under 4 percent
  • Supported a streamlining of the FECECAM network from 64 to 32 credit unions now offering a wide range of services to every community in the country
  • Strengthened the capacity of 12 inspectors to fulfill their mandate of monitoring decentralized financial organizations

International Development Projects in Benin

Map of projects in Benin
Project Browser - Benin

2012-2013 CIDA disbursements in Benin

Total: $8.51 million