Benin Growth to Reach 7% on Exports, Farming, President Says

Benin’s economy will reach annual growth of 7 percent in three years because of investments in agricultural that are meant to increase exports, said President Thomas Boni Yayi.

Benin, Africa’s fourth-biggest cotton producer, will set up an agricultural bank to fund companies in the sector, Boni Yayi said in a televised speech from Natitingou, 645 kilometers (401 miles) from the commercial capital, Cotonou. He spoke on the 51st anniversary of Benin’s independence from France.

Higher output in agriculture may boost Benin’s economy by 3.8 percent in 2011, from 2.6 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund said July 21. Farming slowed in 2010 after heavy rains caused the worst flooding in 50 years, killing at least 46 people and leaving 150,000 homeless, according to the Interior Ministry.

The West African nation will look to neighboring Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as an export market for its goods, Boni Yayi said. A deal signed in 2006 with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account for reforms at the port of Cotonou will “enhance transparency and transaction security,” he said.

Boni Yayi also pledged to improve the country’s roads and railways, as well as the energy, water and telecommunications sectors.

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