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Why is Benin facing high cost of living?

The country’s economy has been negatively impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the closure of the border with Niger following a coup in that country last year.
Why is Benin facing high cost of living Why is Benin facing high cost of living
Why is Benin facing high cost of living

Benin, a small West African nation known for its vibrant markets and rich cultural heritage, is currently facing a high cost of living that is putting a strain on its residents.

The World Bank recently declared that Benin’s economy remains resilient despite the external economic shocks it has had to endure. However, the reality on the ground tells a different story.

In the bustling Dantokpa market in Cotonou, Diane Makpenon’s family corn shop is feeling the effects of the rising cost of living.

Like many businesses in the economic capital of Benin, they have been hit hard by the increasing prices of essential goods.


The price of a kilo of corn, a staple food in the country, has more than doubled in recent weeks, causing hardship for both traders and consumers alike.

Why is Benin facing high cost of living
General view of the Dantokpa market, one of the largest open-air market in West Africa, in Cotonou on February 29, 2024. (Photo by Abadjaye Justin SODOGANDJI / AFP)

The spike in food costs has led to widespread concern among Benin’s population, prompting labour unions to organize protests against the high cost of living.

However, these protests have been met with resistance from the authorities, with police using tear gas to disperse the first protest and banning the second altogether.

Despite these challenges, a third protest planned for Cotonou has been granted authorization by city officials, showing that the issue is not going away anytime soon.

The rising costs in Benin have deeply impacted the daily lives of its citizens, forcing many to rethink their spending habits and tighten their budgets.

Roberte Akododja, a bistro owner in Cotonou, expressed the struggle of making ends meet in the current economic climate. Even dining out has become a luxury as prices continue to soar, leaving consumers with limited options.

Delphin Agossohou, a private administration executive, highlighted the frustration of having to pay more for basic necessities or settle for smaller portions.

The lack of a fair agricultural policy from the government, as pointed out by Camille Segbedji, has only exacerbated the situation, further squeezing the purchasing power of the people.

Despite the challenges, the World Bank noted the resilience of Benin’s economy in 2023, even amidst external economic shocks.

In an attempt to alleviate the pressure on prices, the government took a step by temporarily suspending cereal shipments outside the country.

However, the political landscape in Benin has also seen a shift, with President Patrice Talon facing criticism for his perceived authoritarian measures.

This has led to a decrease in political protests, with opposition leaders either in exile or imprisoned.

Why is Benin facing high cost of living
Why is Benin facing high cost of living

Despite the ban on demonstrations, main unions in Benin organized a protest in Cotonou to address the high costs, only to be disbanded by the police using tear gas.

The struggle for affordability and economic stability remains a significant challenge for the people of Benin.

The tensions between the trade union movement and the government in Benin have reached a boiling point, with several demonstrations being met with arrests and bans by the authorities.

The Confederation of Benin Workers’ Unions (CSTB Benin) recently organized a protest that was immediately banned, leading to the arrest of nearly 30 demonstrators and union leaders.

Despite being released later on, the workers are still struggling to have their demands heard. Nurse Arsene Olory-Togbe, one of the arrested protesters, emphasized the difficulties faced by workers in expressing their grievances.

With issues such as high cost of living and declining purchasing power plaguing the citizens, trade union leaders like Anselme Amoussou from CSA Benin are calling for dialogue and more human approach from the government.

The recurring arrests and bans have not deterred the trade unionists, as they plan to organize another protest on May 11 in the economic capital of Benin.

The uncertainty surrounding whether the peaceful march will be repressed highlights the challenges faced by workers in a supposed democratic country like Benin.

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