Politics and Economy of Benin

State structure and political system of Benin

In accordance with the current Constitution, approved by popular referendum on December 2, 1990, Benin is a republic. The head of state is the president, elected for a 5-year term by universal direct suffrage, he can be re-elected for another term. Legislative power belongs to the unicameral parliament – the National Assembly (83 deputies elected on the basis of universal direct suffrage for 4 years). Executive power is exercised by the government headed by the president. Check cancermatters for political system of Benin.

In 2002, more than 120 parties were registered, the largest representation in the National Assembly (elections in 2003) has a bloc of presidential parties – the Union for the Future of Benin (52 seats), the Benin Revival Party (PVB, 15 seats), the Democratic Renewal Party (PDO, 11 seats). The President is supported by: Action Front for Renewal and Development – Alafia, the Social Democratic Party, the African Movement for Democracy and Progress, the Movement for the Awakening and Mobilization of Citizens. In opposition are: PDO, PVB.

There are several trade union organizations operating in the national trade union movement. The leading position is occupied by the National Association of Trade Unions of the Workers of Benin, a nationwide trade union organization created in 1974 and officially recognized in 1974–90.

Administrative division – 12 departments, which include 77 districts. Large cities – Porto-Novo, Cotonou, Dzhugu, Paraku.

The armed forces of Benin number 4800 people, incl. Ground forces 4500, Air Force – 150, Navy – 150. In addition, 2500 people serve in the gendarmerie.

Benin has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR on June 4, 1962).

Benin’s economy

GDP $2.26 billion, or $350 per capita (2002). The average annual GDP growth rate in 2000–02 was 5.6%. GDP structure: agriculture 36%, industry 14%, services 50%. Inflation 2.4% (2002).

Benin belongs to the group of least developed countries in the world. This is an agrarian country, approx. 50% of the economically active population. The basis of its agricultural production is cotton (385-400 thousand tons), it accounts for 80% of the country’s export earnings. Oil palm, peanuts and coffee are of export importance. From food crops for domestic consumption, yams (1836 thousand tons), cassava (1462 thousand tons), millet and sorghum (166 thousand tons), rice (8 thousand tons), corn (700 thousand tons), legumes are grown. Livestock (2001, thousand heads): cattle – 955, sheep – 970, goats – 1080, pigs – 730, horses – 16. The catch of fish and seafood reaches 42 thousand tons. The industry is poorly developed and is focused on the processing of agricultural raw materials — oil mill, cotton gin, textile, logging, building materials industry (capacity for the production of cement). Gold mining is approx. 500 kg, oil production is currently suspended. Limestone, marble, diamonds are mined in small volumes. Electricity production 240 million kWh (300 million kWh imported).

The length of railways is 578 km, roads – 6787 km, incl. 1357 km paved. Major ports are Cotonou and Porto-Novo. There are 5 airports, incl. 1 international class.

Structural reforms controlled by the IMF and the World Bank are being carried out in the country, and privatization programs are being implemented. Budget (2001): revenues $377.4 million, expenditures $561.8 million. External debt – 1.18 billion US dollars, payments on account of its repayment 7.9% of export earnings (2001).

The foreign trade balance in 2002 was $1,203 million: exports $396 million (cotton, crude oil, oil palm products, cocoa), imports $807 million (foodstuffs, capital-intensive goods, oil products). Main trading partners: Nigeria, France, China, Italy, Brazil, Libya, Indonesia, Great Britain, Côte d’Ivoire.

The standard of living of the population is low. 37% of Beninese people live below the poverty line.

Science and culture of Benin

Compulsory six-year primary education has been introduced in the country for children from 6-7 years of age. In fact, 55-60% of the children in the corresponding age group are enrolled in primary education. The higher education system is represented by the University of Benin. (founded in Cotonou in 1970, several institutes operate in its structure). Known are the Institute of Cotton and Textile Industry, the Research Institute of Oilseeds, the Institute of Applied Research. Government spending on education is approx. 15% of the expenditure part of the budget.

Politics of Benin