Implementation Status of Local Economic Development (LED) in Benin

Video Interview with Ms. Georgette Djenontin Bada , Officer in charge of Local economic development and resource mobilization within the National Association of Municipalities of Benin (ANCB). Find transcription below .

In Benin, what is the implementation status of Local economic development? 

In In Benin, it is true that several activities have been carried out in terms of Local economic development. Several strategies have been developed, in particular the ECOLOC approach, formerly steered by the PDM (Partnership for municipal development), the players of which are today at the level of the continental umbrella organization, UCLG Africa. It is a program which had  designed a local economic development strategy in certain municipalities in Benin. I admit that after the Partnership for Municipal Development (PDM) there have been other partners who have also initiated some actions in the sector but I must recognize that the little that I fundamentally know in Benin concerns the ECOLOC studies. As regards  the issue of LED, there is a problem that remains: we do not have a national policy for local economic development. There are attempts at strategies.

In 2012, UCLG Africa was willing to support Benin, which has started to draw up such a strategy, and UCLG Africa has implemented PADEL, the Support Program for local economic development, which has gained ground between 2012 and 2014. What did we have to do? There was talk of developing a national strategy for local economic development. Over time we have identified a certain demand for legislation that needed to be revisited. It was a question of seeing local economic development taken into account in that legislation . We were able to do this thanks to the technical and financial support of UCLG Africa.

We have continued the process up to a given level: for the moment things are a bit in a standby mode. The ECOLOC studies had been implemented in the department of Borgou. We started in a commune of the Donga area called Djougou. The process has been implemented up to a certain level. Unfortunately after these studies carried out at great cost with the help of the PDM over time and recently with the help of UCLG Africa, the municipalities have not been able to implement the projects initiated. However, the purpose of the ECOLOC studies is to identify a certain number of projects to be implemented at the level of local authorities to promote youth employment, income sharing, etc.

How long ago has the implementation of LED been really started in Benin ? 

I can tell you that there is a first period from 2000 until around 2008 when the first ECOLOC studies were carried out in Benin and there is another period from 2012 in 2014. These are the 2 main stages of ECOLOC studies in Benin.

How can you define Local Economic Development (LED) in a simplified way ? 

Before answering your question, I would like to say that local economic development is a very broad and multi-thematic concept that brings together all sectors. When someone talks about transport, economic development is part of the equation  because farmers who are in their field and who cultivate, harvest, and who do not have enjoy infrastructure to transport products from the field to the market  are facing a problem. So people say that everyone must be able to feel concerned by Local Economic Development:  people in the agricultural sector, in fisheries, in transport, and other sectors. For me, local economic development is a whole-government approach that brings together all the sectoral ministries. Even when one talks about health, local economic development is there.

In summary what is it all about ? 

It is about actions. One must think, see for example within a territory for example what the economic potential is ? What value should be added to this potential to generate income ? And when one talks about income, one means jobs and when one talks about jobs, it is also about paying taxes. It is a whole chain. Local economic development is not like an object that you have to touch to say this is local economic development, but it is a whole process.