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Cablegate: Usitc Study On Benin: Effects of Instrastructure Conditions

VZCZCXRO7766
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHCO #0630/01 2770915
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030915Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY COTONOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0567
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1328
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0378

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COTONOU 000630

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W ACOOK; DLOCKHART
LONDON FOR PETER LORD
PARIS FOR BKANEDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA ETRD ASEC EK PU SE XA BN

SUBJECT: USITC STUDY ON BENIN: EFFECTS OF INSTRASTRUCTURE CONDITIONS
ON EXPORT COMPETITIVENESS

REF: STATE 85109

1. Per reftel, Post provides the following:
-- AmEmbassy Cotonou's contact for this subject study (pending the
arrival of a Pol/EconOff) is Mr. Marius C. Lotsu, the
Economic/Commercial Assistant. His contact details follow: U.S.
Embassy; 01B.P. 2012 Cotonou, Benin
Rue Caporal Bernard Anani; E-mail:LotsuMC@state.gov
Tel: (229) 21-300650; Fax: (229) 21-300670.
For Transportation Issues
-- Mr. Albert Abloutan, Director General of Land Transport, at the
Ministry of Transportation and Public Works. His contact follows:
telephone:(229) 21315821/21313998; Office fax: (229) 21315821.
-- Mr. Fidele Cossi Milohin, Director of the National Center for
Road Safety at the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works.
Telephone: (229) 21333725; Cell phone: (229) 90039688.
-- Mr. Cyriaque Atti-Mama, Interim Director General of Port of
Cotonou; Telephone: (229) 21312637/312890; Fax: (229) 21312891.
-- Mr. Charles Wenceslas Afouda, Director of Merchant Marine;
Telephone and Fax: (229) 21315845.
For Energy Issues:
-- Mr. Raphael Dossou, Director General of Benin Power Corporation,
SBEE; Telephone: (229) 21312145; Fax (229) 21315028; email:
dgsbee@yahoo.fr.
-- Mr.Godefroy Chekete, Special Advisor to the Head of State on
Energy. Cell: (229) 21-308731; (229)95794043; Fax: (229) 21332716;
email: godefroychekete@yahoo.fr

For shea butter and related products:

-- Mr. Jean-Baptiste Kouton
Coordinator of Small and Medium Size Enterprises at the Minstry of
Micro-Finances; Telephone: (229) 21324941; Email:
jbkouton@hotmail.com

-- Ms. Fatouma Sekossounon Gbaoure, CEO of Antemana, a shea butter
processing company; Cell phones: (229) 97595074/95969284/90924786;
email: antemanas@yahoo.fr

-- Mr. Yves O. Afouda; Agro-economist and Coordinator of CASPA, a
Danish founded organization in charge of support to the agricultural
sector; Telephone: 21327601; email: afoudaoyves@yahoo.fr.

-- Mr. Gilles Roger Adamon, CEO of Natura, a sheabutter processing
company, exporting to the U.S. market; Telephone and fax: (229)
21300814; email: naturacosm@yahoo.fr.

----------------------------------
OVERVIEW ON ROAD AND RAIL NETWORKS
----------------------------------

2. Benin's road infrastructure is undergoing profound improvement.
The road quality currently ranges from poor to quite good. Road and
flyover construction is booming throughout the country and the
current administration has within two years invested over 300
billion CFA (0.66 billion USD) in 700 km of road construction.
Benin's road infrastructure is one of the best of the West African
Economic and Monetary Union, WAEMU. As one of the gateways to the
land locked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, Benin road
attracts more big trucks travelling between these countries and
various ports in the sub region. The collapse of a number of
bridges on neighboring Togo's highways has paralyzed road transport
in that country and has diverted most of the commercial traffic
destined to and from the above cited countries through Benin.

3. Intercity and sub-regional transport of passengers by bus is
thriving in the country. A number of local and foreign bus
operators are investing in this sector by increasing the country's
bus fleet. This investment notably contributes to the reduction of
casualties on long distance trips as compared to the high rate of
accidents involving bush taxis. City transportation by bus is
inexistent in the country in general, and in Cotonou in particular.
Two stroke motorbike taxis represent over 90 percent of the means of
passenger transport in Cotonou and are the main source of
environmental pollution and road accidents in the economic capital
of the country.

4. Organization Commune Benin-Niger is a bilateral railway
parastatal between Benin and Niger, commonly known as OCBN, in
charge of the transport of goods and passengers. The existing 438
Km rail line links Cotonou to Parakou. Both countries originally
planned to construct the railway up to Niamey, the capital of Niger.
From Parakou, goods destined to Niger used to be transshipped on
big trucks for their final destination.


COTONOU 00000630 002 OF 002


5. Mismanagement, lack of spare parts, and the use of outmoded
equipment hampered the normal activities of this rail company to the
extent that it offers only limited cargo transport between the Port
of Cotonou and the dry port situated not far from the Port. However
efforts are underway to put the OCBN activities fully back on track.
In addition, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS,
plans to finance the interconnection of the sub region's railway
networks.

--------------------------------------------- -----
OVERVIEW OF MARITIME TRANSPORT AND PORT OF COTONOU
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. Benin has a 120-kilometer coastline. Internal maritime transport
for goods and/or passengers is non-existent. The Port of Cotonou is
the only infrastructure that serves as a gateway for the country.
The Port of Cotonou also serves as a gateway for the sub-region with
many goods, including almost 350,000 used cars per year, arriving
destined for Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and other countries in
West Africa. In addition Beninese Cotton is shipped overseas
through the Port of Cotonou

7. The Port of Cotonou is among the best ports in the region in
terms of the speed at which cargo is unloaded, though some delays
may be observed. Usually, it takes a maximum of two to three days
for a vessel transporting rice, to unload its cargo, depending on
the quantity, while it takes one or two days for a Roro vessel.
According to Beninese authorities the average maximum processing
time to clear a shipment from the port is 48 hours, but in practice
clearing customs may take longer. Port authorities' efforts to
improve the level of service by opening a "guichet unique", a
one-stop office to speed up the clearing of goods have been foiled
by resistance from the customs.

8. A large-scale port security upgrade, in compliance with the
International Port Security Code, ISPS, was completed in August 2007
and approved by the U.S. Coast Guards. In February 2006, the
Government of Benin signed a 5-year $307 million Millennium
Challenge Compact (MCC) to increase investment and private sector
activity in Benin. The program removes key constraints to growth and
supports improvements in physical and institutional infrastructures
in four critical sectors: land, financial services, justice, and
markets. 169 million USD of this compact will be spent on the
construction of the south quay of the Port of Cotonou.

----------------------
OVERVIEW ON ELECTRICTY
----------------------

9. Benin depends on electricity imports from Ghana, Cote-d'Ivoire,
and Nigeria to cover part of its power needs of 255 Megawatts. As
of 2006, energy supply from Ghana was reduced from 50 to 25
megawatts because of increase of electricity consumption in that
country, while Cote d'Ivoire cut off its supply of 20 megawatts for
the same reason. A new high-tension interconnection to the Nigerian
grid was inaugurated in Benin in February 2007 as one of the first
major achievements of the West African Power Pool Project to supply
90 Megawatts to Benin and Togo.

10. The Benin electricity parastatal, "Societe Beninoise d'Energie
Electrique", SBEE, as a retailer, has the monopoly of electricity
distribution in the country. It buys electricity from "la Communaute
Electrique du Benin, CEB", a bilateral power parastatal joint
venture between Togo and Benin. CEB also runs the Nangbeto
hydroelectric dam located in Togo, belonging to both Benin and Togo
and whose current output estimate is 66 megawatts.

11. On August 24, 2007, the Government of Benin (GOB) and the U.S.
energy company, Combustion Associates, Inc. (CAI), signed a contract
totaling $67,448,420 for provision of dual (natural gas and diesel)
turbines to generate 80 megawatts of power for Benin. The contract
represents a major boost to Benin's beleaguered power grid and also
a significant success for the Mission's efforts to promote American
commerce and exports.

BROWN

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