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Millennium Challenge Corporation Signs Compact with Benin


Washington, D.C. - On February 22, 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a five-year approximately $307 million Compact with the Government of the Republic of Benin. The Program is expected to benefit up to 5 million Beninese, over half of Benin's population, and lift an estimated 250,000 of its citizens out of poverty by the year 2015.


The Beninese identified a poor investment climate and a lack of dynamic private sector activity as key impediments to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.  Land insecurity, lack of access to capital, an inefficient judicial system, and an increasingly uncompetitive Port of Cotonou further hinder economic growth.  The Millennium Challenge Compact with Benin aims to address these key constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction by supporting improvements in physical and institutional infrastructure in four critical sectors focusing on access to land, financial services, justice, and markets.  The access to markets project is expected to reduce delays at the Port of Cotonou and increase the volume of exports in areas important to Benin such as cotton.  

"MCC is proud to work in partnership with the people of Benin on this Compact and congratulates them on this great achievement," said MCC CEO Ambassador John Danilovich.  "The Beninese designed and developed the program following a comprehensive consultative process with all segments of their society.  I want to recognize President Kérékou's leadership and his team for their hard work.  MCC looks forward to continuing our partnership as we work together to implement the Compact, which will provide hope and opportunity to the poor in Benin."

Ambassador Danilovich added, "MCC was designed to work with and reward nations that have demonstrated a commitment to adopting good policies that will spur economic growth and reduce poverty.  Like all MCA countries, Benin's participation in the Millennium Challenge program is predicated on its dedication to three fundamental principles: ruling justly, investing in people, and encouraging economic freedom throughout the life of the Compact.  The election on March 5th is a significant milestone in Benin's history and I commend President Kérékou and the Government of Benin for their commitment to hold these elections consistent with Benin's Constitution."

Launched by President Bush in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Account is an innovative approach to development assistance that recognizes sound policies and good governance as critical to poverty reduction and economic growth in developing countries.

* * * * *

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty.

More info on Benin:

Situated in West Africa, between Nigeria and Togo in the Gulf of Guinea, Benin is a very poor country with a population of nearly seven million, a third of which live in poverty.  Progress in development is attributed to reforms initiated in the early 1990s as Benin transitioned from a Marxist-Leninist state towards a pluralistic democracy and market economy.

Despite growth rates averaging 5% per year in the past decade, rapid population growth has offset much of these gains and poverty remains widespread.  Per capita income in Benin remains below the sub-Sahara African average and rural poverty has increased in recent years.  Benin's economy is narrowly dependent on cotton production, subsistence agriculture and regional trade through the Port of Cotonou.  Key impediments to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction are a poor investment climate and a lack of dynamic private sector activity.  These are hindered by land insecurity, lack of access to capital, an inefficient judicial system, and an increasingly uncompetitive Port of Cotonou.

The five year, approximately $307 million Millennium Challenge Compact with the Government of Benin aims to increase investment and private sector activity in Benin.  The program to be funded under the Compact (Program) seeks to remove key constraints to growth and supports improvements in physical and institutional infrastructures.  The projects included in the Program reinforce each other and MCC estimates they will together contribute to an economic rate of return (ERR) of 24%.

_______________________________
For more information, please contact:
Davy Kong
Press Officer
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Email:  kongd@mcc.gov

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