By Dipo Olowookere
The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) has promised to assist Benin Republic attract $15 billion of investments to the small West African nation and to also stimulate its growth from the bottom up by 2021.
This pledge was made when CEO of the agency, Mr George Otieno, met with the country’s President, Mr Patrice Talon, ahead of the government’s five-year action plan that is aligned to Benin’s Vision 2030 that places Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) at the core.
The ATI boss’ visit also involved exploiting an estimated $760 million worth of investments in the agency’s current project pipeline.
These include renewable energy, manufacturing, agribusiness, investments that will help finance small and-medium sized (SMEs) companies, and supporting the government’s proposed bond issue.
“We came to Benin to lend our support. The relationship ATI has with its government stakeholders is by far our most valuable asset. Listening to our countries is an important part of building a partnership based on trust. As a result, we walked away from the meeting with the President confident that we had a way forward in working together to help build the country,” Mr Otieno noted.
Spurred by indicators that show 40 percent of the population living below the poverty line and Benin ranked 166th out of 177 in the human development index, the President is focused on crowding in the private sector to create beneficial PPPs. To attract investors, he is also focused on creating an open and transparent system of governance.
In a statement made shortly after his nomination, the President noted that it was a matter of urgency that they tackle political reforms, restructuring of the national economy and strengthening the social fibre in order to restore public confidence and the country’s credibility.
“As an African institution, ATI understands the challenging environment in which many of our governments work. This is where we can add the most value because we understand the risks involved and how to mitigate them. Benin is no different. We’re here to help by providing comfort to investors,” added Mr Otieno.
During ATI’s four day stay in Benin, the company met with the highest ranked ministers and also hosted a workshop for government agencies to explain the benefits of their products. These include providing guarantees to suppliers and contractors of government tenders. With guarantees in place, Benin can attract the best possible goods and services that will greatly help its development efforts. ATI is also able to help the government lower their debt levels by offering guarantees to investors in place of costly and unavailable government guarantees.
In 2013, Benin became the first West African country to join ATI, a pan-African institution that provides political, investment and commercial risk insurance products. Côte d’Ivoire is expected to finalise their membership in early 2017. ATI’s next membership focus is the other large West African economies of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
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