Alexander De Croo signs a new cooperation programme with Benin

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo signed a new five-year cooperation programme today in Cotonou, the capital of Benin. Belgium and Benin join forces to create sustainable local economic growth by developing the pineapple sector and the Port of Cotonou and strengthening the rights of women and girls.

Benin's Minister of Higher Education, Marie Odile Attanasso and Minister De Croo signed a new five-year cooperation program that runs from 2019 to 2023. The programme covers a total of €60 million and will focus on three priorities:

  • agricultural entrepreneurship;
  • capacity building in the port sector;
  • sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“This new cooperation programme reflects the priorities I set out over the past years in the Belgian development policy: an ambitious approach that focuses on local economic growth and pays more attention to human rights, particularly women's rights. These are the best guarantees for real human development”, said Alexander De Croo.

 
Expansion of the pineapple sector

In order to strengthen local economic growth in a sustainable way, Belgium and Benin are cooperating to improve the pineapple value chain. Benin produces 400 to 450,000 tons of pineapples each year, making it the country's third largest agricultural product. By 2025, the Beninese authorities want to increase pineapple production to 600,000 tons and explore new export markets. A better structuring and enhancing of the value chain can help achieve this goal, as well as more innovation, digitisation and better access to financial and non-financial services.

Belgian-Beninese cooperation in the field of port activities can also lead to increased local economic growth. To that end, Belgium will invest in improving and professionalising the Port of Cotonou, which will be able to count on peer-to-peer support from Belgian partners such as the Port of Antwerp.

 
Better access to family planning

Another priority of the new cooperation programme with Benin is to improve the rights of girls and women, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Attention will be paid to strategies to initiate behavioural changes. Better access to health services and the digitisation of health data should contribute to this.

In Benin, one in ten girls marries before the age of 15. Women have an average of five children. 15% of maternal mortality is due to unsafe abortions.