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AfDB to help Benin develop agri, infra sectors

The African Development Bank has committed to making all its operational tools available, including financing, to help the West African country’s economic growth through agri and infrastructure development.

Africa farmer and donkey
The African Development Bank has committed to making all its operational tools available, including financing, to help the West African country’s economic growth through agri and infrastructure development.

The African Development Bank has approved an “intervention strategy” to support Benin through the development of agricultural value chains, agro-industry and infrastructure.

In addition to offering project loans, the AfDB will be providing budgetary and institutional support, economic sector work and guarantees.

For agriculture specifically, which accounts for about 23 percent of GDP, the AfDB will help the development of the sector’s value chains by “structuring investments; improving the agricultural sector business environment to foster more private sector involvement; developing skills and entrepreneurship, in particular for young people and women; ensuring access to financing using such tools as risk-sharing mechanisms; and ensuring the economic development of rural areas through higher incomes and better access to social services,” a spokeswoman for the bank told Agri Investor.

“This may ultimately help to reduce rural exodus,” she added.

The strategy will focus on Benin’s northern and central regions, which have some of the highest poverty rates but also significant agricultural potential, the bank said. Around 40 percent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

The focus on infrastructure development is also meant to complement efforts in the agricultural sector by providing access to the Economic Community of West African States and capitalizing on the country’s position as a corridor serving the sub-region. In addition to transport, the energy sector will also be a key focus to improve access to energy services, promote renewable energy and provide electricity to rural areas, primarily through off-grid solutions.

In addition to implementing its five-year program, the AfDB is in the process of opening a field office in Benin. “The [Beninese] government intends to have more than half of its investment plan financed by the private sector, and to strengthen partnerships with civil society organizations,” the spokeswoman said.