Washington, DC — The CEO of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Daniel W. Yohannes, is in Benin this week to celebrate the successful completion of MCC’s five-year, $307 million compact with the West African country. Together the people of Benin and MCC designed the compact to address obstacles to investment and economic growth by modernizing and expanding the Port of Cotonou, often referred to as the “lungs” of Benin; promoting land security; improving access to capital for micro- and medium-sized enterprises; and creating a more efficient judicial system.
MCC’s investment in the Port of Cotonou contributes to economic growth and trade, while exemplifying the power of private sector-led partnerships to leverage public resources. The volume of merchandise through the port has increased from four million metric tons in 2004 to seven million metric tons in 2010, far exceeding previous capacity. Creating a more competitive, efficient port makes Benin an anchor for regional trade and investment. The modernized port is expected to attract over $200 million in financing from the private sector, which will increase revenues and create more jobs.
Mr. Yohannes attended the inauguration of the newly expanded Port of Cotonou as part of the closeout celebrations, noting that, “In Benin, MCC found a good partner. Our results-focused, country-driven, policy-centered partnership has created opportunities for economic growth by opening up new access to markets, to land, to finance, and to justice. And Benin made difficult, but necessary, policy reforms to support MCC's investments. Now, it is vital for the Beninese to build upon and sustain the progress underway.”
The partnership between MCC and the Government of Benin is already producing tangible results that are impacting the lives of the Beninese. In addition to progress at the Port of Cotonou, these results include:
- Strengthening land rights: The compact created 294 village landholding plans, which allow approximately 75,000 landholders and their families to protect their rights to hold agricultural fields against hostile claims, and to seek mortgage credit.
- Improving access to justice: The compact financed the construction of four new frontline courts and a new Court of Appeals, bringing justice closer to Beninese citizens by decreasing the average travel distance to the nearest court and eventually expediting the delivery of justice.
- Strengthening the microfinance sector: The number of microfinance institutions audited per year has increased from 27 to 104.
- Improving business registration: More than 18,000 businesses registered their companies during the compact period, compared to close to 2,000 in 2005. It now takes seven days to register a business, compared to ten days in 2006.
Over the next 20 years, MCC’s investments in Benin are expected to benefit the entire country’s population.
For more information on Benin’s MCC compact, visit: http://www.mcc.gov/pages/countries/program/benin-compact.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership and results.