A delegation from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) stayed from March 13 to 22, 2022 in Benin. This visit is part of the hydro-agricultural development project in the Mono Valley. At the end of this visit, significant benefits for Benin.
Visit of the facilities of several hydro-agricultural schemes in Lokossa, Athiémé, Grand-Popo and Allada, exchanges with the populations concerned, exchanges with the Beninese authorities, in particular the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Higher Education, etc. These are the activities that furnished the stay of the BADEA mission led by Hatem Al Bejri, Head of the public sector division for West Africa and Central Africa at BADEA who provided information on the purpose of this visit and their assessments at its end.
“We arrived on March 13 and are leaving today March 22, 2023. The main purpose of our delegation’s stay is to assess a hydro-agricultural development and adaptation to climate change project that the Beninese government wants over a total area of 3000 hectares covering two main regions. 1500 hectares in the Mono Valley and 1500 hectares in the Niger Valley. The mission that we conducted is only within the framework of the Mono Valley. The other 1,500 hectares of the Niger Valley will be programmed by the Government of Benin for a later phase, we hope so.
We are very satisfied, honored. I would like to point out that this mission was supervised by his Excellency the Minister of State, Dr. Zul-Kifl Salami, who helped us a great deal in our work and provided us with everything necessary to carry out our work. This mission materializes the exemplary cooperation between the Beninese government and BADEA which, in recent years, has experienced a very significant new development with practically one project per year with consistent commitments.
This cooperation to which the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa is attached and particularly its management at the highest level, the commitment of his Excellency Dr Sidi Ould TAH, Director General of BADEA who is the locomotive of this orientation, this support for the economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa and particularly in Benin. There are also other projects that we are already funding,” he said.
The work of the BADEA delegation in Benin was supervised from start to finish by President Patrice Talon’s project manager, Minister of State Dr Zul-Kifl Salami who did not fail to shed light on to the work carried out during these 10 days. “The project, as mentioned by the BADEA head of mission, concerns the development of 1,500 hectares of agricultural land in the Mono valley. This will make it possible to create added value, help populations, increase agricultural and fisheries production, create jobs, build socio-community infrastructure and generate income. With the experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and their colleagues from the delegation, we did a very meticulous job of appraising the file. This consisted in seeing in a general way, the general organization, the architecture of the project and the problems of perenniality and durability of the project especially the structuring of the costs. All this work was done in intense collaboration with the national experts whose expertise I salute in passing, but above all with the expertise of the BADEA delegation, which is high quality expertise. The most sensitive issues such as quality, durability but above all speed in action have been addressed throughout our journey. When we have done this office work, we have to go to the field to confront the forecasts with the harsh reality on the ground. We did all day Saturday March 18, 2023 from 7 a.m. to midnight. I was alongside the delegation to make this rodeo a success. So, this allowed us to visit the Mono River, to appreciate its flow, the fertility of the soil and above all to meet the populations who are the ultimate beneficiaries. And there, I must admit that when meeting the populations, the BADEA delegation and the Ministry of Agriculture conducted a project education, explained this project and its fundamentals. It is not a question of expropriating but of developing agricultural land at the expense of the State and returning it to the populations once developed. The approach is innovative. This visit allowed us to see the steering unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, a critical element in the success of the project. This project has a holistic character. Because when we finished with the Mono Valley and saw the enthusiasm of the populations and their total support for this project, we began to take an interest in value chains, that is to say the processing of agricultural products. And there, the expertise of BADEA and particularly of its head of mission were very useful to discuss, exchange with the actors particularly in what is dear to us: the Solo pineapple and papaya which are a label of our country. There we met women who transform pineapple into juice that they sell on world markets. The delegation was fascinated. And from the outset, I can tell you that this mission is already part of the perspective of financing agricultural value chains”.
An innovative project with strong added values
“The Mono Valley hydro-agricultural development project is an innovative and strategic project because it affects food security, the improvement of the standard of living of the populations and also the adaptation to climate change and external changes that the world is increasingly undergoing due to instability on the globe or due to the increase in the prices of raw materials and agricultural products. So this project revolves around the development of 1500 hectares of agricultural land which will be irrigated for the promotion of several sectors including mainly rice, market gardening and corn. There will also be the development of fish farming. Fish ponds will be developed. Associated equipment and the necessary related infrastructure will be installed in the seven villages concerned in Athiémé and the localities concerned. The project does not stop at the technical or physical developments. There are areas for irrigation, drainage, protection kits against the rising waters of the Mono River. As long as it remains acceptable in terms of budget and social acceptance. There is also the development of traffic and access roads around these sites. Each site will be connected to the main village by a track. Alongside these facilities, there will also be civil engineering works and related works and the development of agricultural and fish farming value chains around these facilities. All of these operators will be affected. After the construction of these infrastructures, the beneficiaries will be supervised for two years. A line of credit will be dedicated to them to facilitate their access. It has been estimated that 2,500 operators during these first two years, at least 60% of whom will be young people and women, who will be involved in the processing, packaging, transport, preparation and smoking of fish, all the activities that can be imagined around the agricultural and fish farming sectors. Our approach is participatory and inclusive and we work together with the population”, explained the head of mission of BADEA.
Two major financings potentially acquired
The success of this BADEA mission enables Benin to position itself favorably to receive funding for the hydro-agricultural development project in the Niger valley and the construction of 1666 (one thousand six hundred and sixty-six) additional social housing units. “The Ouèdo social housing construction project is progressing well. Several batches have already started. The BADEA batch has not yet started. But it will be soon. The government wanted BADEA to also position itself for the remaining 1,666 housing units. This will be reviewed by BADEA General Management. This case is in good hands. It is progressing well and according to our discussions with our partners, we are reassured that the quality will be maintained and that the lessons learned from the advanced batches will be put to the benefit of the new batches,” said Hatem Al Bejri. On the same wavelength, the president’s project manager Patrice Talon specifies: “We also visited the social housing of Ouèdo. BADEA is one of the leading financiers of social housing in Ouèdo along with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the West African Development Bank (BOAD). They were impressed by the quality of the work, the finish and the impact on the populations. On this basis, it is very favorably that they reacted to the potential request of the government to finance 1666 additional housing units. This is a credit to our cooperation. When we were done, we went back to the office to write the report and try to refine the financial analysis. The economic and financial ratios have been analyzed to show the relevance of the project, its durability, its sustainability over time and above all, we are keen, and that is the advice at the end: that governance be there, speed and responsiveness in action on both sides, which will allow the project to be brought quickly to its materialization phase”.
Thanks to President Talon and the Director General of BADEA
Minister of State Dr. Zul-Kifl Salami paid a well-deserved tribute to the Beninese Head of State Patrice Talon for his governance and his high vision of development as well as to the Director General of BADEA for his love for Africa in general and Benin in particular. “Let me start with what I call the beginning. That is to say, to pay a respectful tribute to His Excellency, the President of the Republic, for the quality of governance, the quality of leadership which has enabled this delegation to land in Cotonou for 10 days. We are very proud of the actions of the Head of State which carry very high signals for the development of the country and the prosperity of its people. You also allow me to dedicate myself to an important duty, that of expressing our deep gratitude, our sincere thanks to His Excellency Dr. Sidi Ould TAH who is the Director General and Executive Chairman of BADEA, an extremely remarkable man who bears the Benin in his heart, it takes a lot for our country. And who chose after financing various sectors to now land in agriculture in Benin,” said Dr. Zul-Kifl Salami.
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