Benin’s President, Boni Yayi, visits AfDB: “Energy is Alpha and Omega for Africa’s prosperity”

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African Development Bank Group President, Akinwumi A. Adesina, received Benin’s President, Thomas Boni Yayi, on September 15, 2015 at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan. Boni Yayi said he “had come to deliver a congratulatory message to the AfDB’s newly elected President.”  He also said Benin needs the Bank’s assistance in vital sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.

Democracy in the region, development of the energy sector, climate change, transport, agriculture and industry were at the centre of discussions during the two-hour meeting, as were discussions on the ways and means for the private sector to support these vital sectors.

Benin has achieved impressive economic growth in the past five years, with reasonably low inflation. But the country’s most pressing challenges include acute infrastructural bottlenecks – particularly in transport and energy; a deficient fiduciary environment impeding private sector development; and an under-performing agricultural sector hindering poverty reduction efforts.

Some 1,000 megawatts of energy is needed to smoothly run Benin’s economy, which currently depends on Nigeria and Ghana for power.  “There is a real need to move towards renewable energy,” Boni Yayi said.

“The AfDB has put in billions in financing key sectors such as urban transport, agriculture and water,” Boni Yayi said, underscoring that the AfDB has been the partner of choice to Benin. “But there are very significant challenges in the energy sector, which we see as the Alpha and Omega for our country’s development.

“My country direly needs our Bank in this sector to bring greater development and opportunity to its citizens. There will be no prosperity in Africa as long as we lack energy,” Boni Yayi said.

“I am impressed by your commitment in the energy sector and your strong will to light up 5 million people in your country,” AfDB President Adesina said, commending the President of Benin for his leadership.

“Benin’s Government has made progress in bringing greater development and opportunity to its citizens,” he said, “but there is need to speedily solve energy problem which I see as our biggest priority.

Adesina said: “With the fall of commodity prices,” Adesina said, “it is essential to industrialize Africa and reduce exports. The AfDB is committed to provide the necessary assistance to member countries in this dynamic. Agriculture must be used, not to manage poverty, but as a business for macroeconomic stability. Donors should increase the level of funding. Our countries, for their part, must also increase their budget level and have more political will.”

Boni Yayi’s visit follows an earlier visit to the institution by his Prime Minister, Lionel Zinsou, who shared perspectives with Adesina on Bank-financed projects in the country and on cooperation.

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