Benin Economy

Benin Economy

Benin, officially French République du Bénin [repy Republic dy be nε ] until 1975 Dahomey [da ɔ mε] German Republic of Benin country in West Africa, on the Guinea coast, with (2019) 11.8 million residents; The capital is Porto Novo.


Benin is one of the least developed countries in the world and, with a gross national income (GNI) of US $ 800 per resident (2017), one of the poorest countries in Africa. The economy is mainly dependent on agriculture and trade with neighboring countries. Unfavorable political framework conditions (widespread corruption, nepotism and bureaucratic inefficiency), the resulting reluctance of domestic and foreign entrepreneurs to invest and the limited domestic market are the greatest obstacles to economic development. The foreign debt amounts to USD 2.7 billion despite debt relief (2017). The state budget is structurally deficient to a high degree and is dependent on official development aid. Visit shoe-wiki for Western Africa Economy.

Foreign trade: The foreign trade balance is chronically in deficit (import value 2016: 2.6 billion US $, export value: 0.4 billion US $). Since a large part of the imported goods are partly illegally re-exported to Nigeria and Niger in particular, an accurate accounting of foreign trade is difficult. The most important export goods are cotton (over 20% of the export value), crude oil and oil palm products. The main imports are foodstuffs, petroleum products, machines and equipment. The most important trading partners are China, India, Malaysia, France and Thailand.


Agriculture employs around 40% of the workforce; it generates 25.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the majority of exports. Small farms are predominant. Some still operate hacking hacking with slash and burn. Maize and cassava are grown in the south, millet, yams, maize and cotton in the drier north. Cotton has been the most important export good for years. Other agricultural export products are palm kernels, palm oil and peanuts. Extensive transhumant livestock husbandry (cattle, sheep, goats) is mainly carried out in the northern areas.

Forestry: Around 40% of the country’s area is covered by forest. In order to preserve the forest and counteract soil erosion, nature reserves were created in the north and inland as early as the colonial times. However, these are de facto hardly protected from agricultural use. Commercial forestry is of little importance. Around 93% of the logging (2014: 6.9 million m 3) is accounted for by firewood.

Fishing: Fishing is concentrated in the inland waters and the lagoons on the coast, it is mostly practiced with traditional fishing methods.

Natural resources

Benin is poor in natural resources. Between 1983 and 1990, the Sémé oil field off the coast of Benin was exploited with Norwegian help. There are smaller gold reserves in the north-west of the country, as well as small reserves of iron ore, rutile, silicon sand, phosphate, marble, limestone and clay.

Energy industry

Even after the construction of the Nangbeto hydropower plant (62 MW), which was built in cooperation with Togo on the Mono river, most of the energy required has to be imported. To improve its energy base, Benin is participating in a gas pipeline from Nigeria to Ghana. A gas-fired power station (80 MW) not far from Cotonou has considerably increased the country’s power generation capacity.


The manufacturing industry, including the construction industry (2016), achieved 23.4% of GDP. The main industries are cement manufacturing, oil mills and cotton ginning plants. The manufacture of simple consumer goods or the textile industry play a subordinate role. The main industrial locations are Cotonou and Porto Novo.


The tourist potential of Benin is limited and limited to the historic cities of Porto Novo, Ouidah and Abomey in the south (museums and districts characterized by colonial architecture), the village of Ganvié built on stilts into the water in the Cotonou lagoon (Lac Nokoué), the Beaches between Cotonou and the Togolese border as well as the nature parks in the northwest (“W” National Park, Pendjari National Park).


As a transit country for other West African countries, Benin has a relatively good transport infrastructure. The main line of the railway network is the 438 km long north-south connection from Parakou to the port city of Cotonou. An extension of this route to Niamey (Niger) is planned. Of the approximately 16,000 km of roads, only 10% are paved. Inland navigation is used on the Niger. The port of Cotonou also serves as a transit port mainly for Niger and Nigeria. The country’s international airport is located near Cotonou.


Parakou [para ku], largest city in the north central Benin, (2013) 255 500 residents.

Administrative seat of the Borgou department; catholic archbishop’s seat; Trade center in a cotton-growing area (ginning plant, textile factory); as the end point of the railway line (438 km) from Cotonou, an important freight transshipment point (to and from Niger); Airport.


Cotonou [- nu], Kutonu, largest city, main port and economic center of the Republic of Benin, (2013) 679 000 residents.

Seat of government authorities, the Supreme Court and diplomatic missions as well as a Catholic archbishop; University (founded in 1970); Brewery, textile and cement factory, automobile assembly plant. The deep-water port is a transit port (with a free zone) for inland Niger; Railway lines connect Cotonou with Parakou and Porto Novo; international Airport. The Dantopka market, one of the largest in West Africa, is located on the Cotonou lagoon (Lac Nokoué).

Benin Economy

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