Benin - Country Portrait
- Area: 112,622 square kilometers
- Population: 11.423.000 (2018)
- Independent: since 1960
- Capital: Porto Novo
- Form of government: Presidential system; Constitution from 1990
- Average life expectancy: (2017)
- 62,7 years (female)
- 59,6 years (male)
- Illiteracy rate: 62,20% (2018)
- Top 3 export goods: Cotton, peanuts, gold
- Benin is known for: Voodoo
Benin is located in West Africa. The small country shares borders with Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and to the south, is the Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea. The climate is divided into two areas geographically: The north is dominated by a dry South-Sahelian climate, the south by a tropical, humid climate.
In Cotonou, the main town on Benin's coast, and the country's economic center, trade in used cars is a booming business. But the impression of a thriving economic life in the bustling city does not show the whole truth: According to the Human Development Index, Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is ranked 167 of 187 countries. Almost half of the population lives in extreme poverty. This means they live on less than $1.98 per day. The country is heavily in debt and suffers from its poor economic infrastructure. As a result, the main focus of governmental policy is on fighting poverty and promoting economic development.
Half of Benin's population is employed in agriculture. Farmers primarily grow corn, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, and legumes for their own consumption and for the local market. Cashew nuts and pineapples are major export products, but Benin's biggest export is cotton. The dependence on agriculture and especially on cotton exports, which account for up to three-quarters of export revenue, makes Benin as a country sensitive to the impact of the regional climate as well as global market prices. The agricultural sector thus plays a key role in the fight against poverty in Benin. CmiA's goal is therefore to boost the output of Benin's agriculture. This should ensure food security for the po¬pulation, support economic development and thus more effectively combat poverty.
In addition to the agricultural sector, CmiA supports the development of school infrastructure in the rural cotton growing areas together with partners in the public and private sectors.
In addition, the star and fashion photographer Albert Watson was commissioned by the Aid by Trade Foundation to visit the West African country to photograph the people at the heart of CmiA, far away from any stereotypes. The images were then on exhibit as part of a large retrospective at the Hamburg Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany. Additionaly, they have been showcased in the framework of the exhibition "Albert Watson: 14 days in Benin" in the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne, Germany.
Sources: Human Development Report 2017 (UNDP); LIPortal 2018; Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 2017; LAENDERDATEN 2018; Wirtschaftskammer Österreich 2019; OEC: Das Observatorium für Wirtschaftliche Komplexität 2019