WASHINGTON, September 21, 2022 – The World Bank today approved $150 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing* to help the Government of Benin empower women and girls, expand access to reliable and sustainable energy, and improve fiscal and debt management.
This is the second development policy operation to finance reforms aimed at improving Benin’s potential for strong and inclusive growth, particularly focused on reinforcing women and girls’ active participation in social and economic life. These reforms will help, among other things, girls complete secondary school through life skills education, free access to school in priority areas, the removal of barriers to access sexual and reproductive health services as well as strengthened mechanisms to prevent gender-based violence. The program will also support actions to strengthen the resilience of the electricity distribution network, lower expensive connection fees, and introduce new energy efficiency legislation. It will also enable Benin to complete its fiscal policy reform and ensure effective debt management.
“Benin has made significant progress in empowering women and girls through courageous reforms undertaken by the government. These reforms are undoubtedly helping to unleash the potential of millions of women and girls who could not exercise their power to actively participate in social and economic life,” said Atou Seck, the Bank’s Operations Manager for Benin. “This financing will enable the country to scale up the reforms necessary for the structural transformation of the economy and the well-being of the population.”
In 2021, Benin adopted important legislative reforms for the empowerment of women and girls. Specifically, the government adopted laws and decrees to promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, strengthen the criminalization of gender-based violence, and strengthen the national entity responsible for advocacy, monitoring, and support of gender-related reforms. Gender-based crimes referred to the justice system (as a percentage of total received) increased from 12.1 percent in 2020 to 13.7 percent in 2021.
In the energy sector, reforms have focused on the establishment of an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework to increase private participation in the energy sector, particularly in renewable energy, and the adoption of the National Energy Efficiency Policy.
“The structural reforms underway in the energy sector will significantly increase access to electricity for the Beninese population, particularly in rural areas, by making electricity distribution less expensive and more resilient to climate shocks. These reforms are necessary to improve the potential for higher and more inclusive growth, especially since they create the conditions for private investments,” said Romuald Wadagni, Minister of State, Minister of Economy and Finance. “This operation will help strengthen Benin’s progress towards an upper middle-income economy.”
The new financing has been designed in alignment with the Beninese government’s 2021-2026 Action Plan, and especially the national development plan (2020-2025), one of the key pillars of which is the reduction of fertility in order to benefit from the demographic dividend. It is also in line with the Bank’s partnership framework with Benin, which focuses on structural transformation of the economy for competitiveness and productivity, human capital development and support for resilience and reduction of vulnerability to climate change.
*International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank institution that helps the world’s poorest countries. Founded in 1960, it provides grants and low- and no-cost loans to finance projects and programs that stimulate economic growth, reduce poverty and improve the lives of the poorest people. IDA is a major donor to 76 of the world’s poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA’s resources are making a difference in the lives of 1.6 billion people in its eligible countries. Since its inception, IDA has supported development activities in 113 countries. The annual volume of IDA commitments has been steadily increasing and has averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61 percent of that amount going to Africa.