Benin: Economy#

The free market economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton is a key export commodity; high prices supported export earnings. Growth in real output has averaged 6.5% since 2014. Inflation has subsided and remained 1% over the past several years.

An insufficient electrical supply continues to hamper Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production. Private foreign direct investment is small, and foreign aid accounts for the majority of investment in infrastructure projects.

Benin’s 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory. Though security remains a problem, the Port of Cotonou has made progress towards implementing the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in an effort to remain competitive. Projects included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact (2006-2011) were designed to increase investment and private sector activity by improving key institutional and physical infrastructure. The four projects focused on access to land, access to financial services, access to justice, and access to markets (including modernization of the port). The Port of Cotonou is the largest component of Benin’s economy with revenues projected to account for more than 40% of Benin’s national budget. Realizing its economic potential requires further efforts to infrastructure upgrades, stemming corruption, and expanding access to foreign markets in Nigeria and neighboring landlocked countries. In September 2015, Benin signed a MCC second Compact for $375 million that is designed to strengthen the national utility service provider, attract private sector investment, fund infrastructure investments in electricity generation and distribution, and develop off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households. In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, encourage new information and communication technology, and establish Independent Power Producers (IPP).

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$24.31 billion (2016 est.)
$23.24 billion (2015 est.)
$22.14 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$8.93 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate4.6% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)
6.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,200 (2016 est.)
$2,100 (2015 est.)
$2,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving16.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
16.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 68%
government consumption: 14.2%
investment in fixed capital: 26.3%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 24.3%
imports of goods and services: -33.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 22.9%
industry: 24.9%
services: 52.2% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
Industriestextiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
Industrial production growth rate4.2% (2016 est.)
Labor force3.662 million (2007 est.)
Unemployment rateNA%
Population below poverty line37.4% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29% (2003)
Distribution of family income - Gini index36.5 (2003)
Budgetrevenues: $1.5 billion
expenditures: $1.939 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues16.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-4.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt40.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
37.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)1% (2016 est.)
0.3% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate4.25% (31 December 2010)
4.25% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rateNA%
Stock of narrow money$2.215 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.172 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$4.165 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$3.61 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$1.639 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.631 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Current account balance-$892 million (2016 est.)
-$893 million (2015 est.)
Exports$1.713 billion (2016 est.)
$1.841 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiescotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
Exports - partnersIndia 24.2%, Gabon 14.6%, China 7.2%, Niger 6%, Bangladesh 5%, Nigeria 4.9%, Vietnam 4.2% (2015)
Imports$2.591 billion (2016 est.)
$2.727 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfoodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
Imports - partnersChina 42.1%, US 8.9%, India 5.7%, Malaysia 4.8%, Thailand 4.3%, France 4% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$645.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$731.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$2.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.115 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesCommunaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
605.7 (2016 est.)
591.45 (2015 est.)
591.45 (2014 est.)
494.42 (2013 est.)
510.53 (2012 est.)