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Benin Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

President Talon has been excluding the opposition from running in elections, which triggered protests in the aftermath of the April 2019 legislative polls. The opposition lacks a clear figurehead since Boni Yayi withdrew from the FCBE in April 2020, therefore major political demonstrations are unlikely in the one-year outlook despite popular opposition to privatisation programmes.President Talon’s party won a landslide in the May 2020 municipal elections, which greatly reduces the opposition’s ability to contest at the 2021 presidential elections because a candidate requires the backing of at least 16 mayors or deputies. Talon is hence increasingly likely to be re-elected and unlikely to make concessions to the opposition during the rest of his mandate, indicating greater policy continuity for all sectors, in particular the cotton industry and infrastructure projects. The pro-Talon National Assembly in November 2019 voted to amend the constitution and create the post of vice-president, improving the outlook for policy continuity in the event of Talon's health failing. Terrorism risks are high in northern Benin as jihadist violence spreads in neighbouring Burkina Faso, with insurgents, most likely affiliated to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), operating in the Pendjari and W national parks. Tourists and aid workers in this area face an elevated risk of kidnap, as indicated by the abduction of two French tourists in May 2019, who were later rescued in Burkina Faso. Piracy risks are high in Beninese waters.The key downside risk to growth in 2020 and 2021 is Nigeria’s economic growth slowdown and weaker finances stemming from the costs of mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Other external downside risks for the 2020–21 outlook include weaker commodity price growth and possible further impediments to export activity, including the ongoing closure of Nigeria's land borders.

Operational Outlook

Benin's infrastructure is centred on the economic capital, Cotonou, where the international seaport and airport are located, although President Talon's 'Revealing Benin' programme aims to expand this. Container traffic is expected to reach one million TEU by 2030. Talon's privatisation process is gaining traction, but he faces strong opposition protests, particularly from Cotonou port workers, which heighten disruption risks to cargo movements. Nigeria's closure of the border in October 2019 poses obstacles to traffic at the Seme-Krake crossing point. From 27 March 2020, this crossing point closed as part of COVID-19 restriction measures which, since April, have also entailed strictly forbidding all border crossings to Nigeria from the Plateau region.



Terrorism risks are high in northern Benin following the May 2019 kidnap of two French tourists from the Pendjari national park and the murder of their local guide. The February 2020’ attack on a police post in Parc du W and increased attacks in south-eastern Burkina Faso indicated that jihadists, most likely affiliated to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), are operating along the border. Benin's support for counter-insurgency efforts in Mali and Nigeria also increases terrorism risks, although jihadist penetration further south will be more difficult owing to lack of networks. Piracy risks are high in Beninese waters, with attacks being reported on average monthly.


There are risks of violent crime and a spillover of organised crime from Nigeria, particularly in Seme-Kraké. Vigilante groups can enforce order in some urban neighbourhoods without reference to the law, and street crime, involving robbery and carjacking, is a risk, especially around the crowded Dantokpa market in the commercial capital, Cotonou. Bandits with small-arms do operate occasionally on highways, including the main Cotonou-to-Parakou highway. Cybercrimes have been significant, with over 200 arrests in 2018.

War Risks

Interstate war risk is low given Benin's preference for negotiated settlements over border disputes and its security co-operation with neighbours. Sporadic and localised cross-border skirmishes with mainly Nigerian communities and traders do occur but are unlikely to degenerate into military confrontations. Oil and gas resources along the maritime border do not increase war risks, as the countries have agreed to jointly exploit the resources. Despite protests against President Talon's privatisation and political direction, all-out civil war is unlikely as security forces will strongly repel large demonstrations.

Social Stability


The absence of leading parties from the national dialogue in October 2019 illustrated the lack of credible institutional channels for political opposition. This has indicated a higher likelihood of violent street protests around elections, as seen in April 2019. The 2020 municipal elections were held amid the COVID-19 virus pandemic. There were no protest following the elections and despite the opposition’s boycott and low turnout, protests remain unlikely. In the event of a protest, security forces are likely to use live ammunition in Cotonou and opposition strongholds such as Tchaourou. Protests against President Talon's privatisation and political initiatives are likely to resume ahead of the 2021 presidential elections.

Health Risk

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

Yellow fever: The government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is recommended for all travelers.

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Meningococcal meningitis: This vaccine is recommended for travel to the "meningitis belt" during the dry season (December to June). There are several types of meningococcal vaccines. None offer full immunity and some require periodic booster shots. Consult your doctor to determine which is best for you depending on medical history and travel plans.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Practical Information


The climate in the south of the country is equatorial with high levels of humidity. The dry seasons last from November until March and again from mid-July until mid-September; the rainy seasons last from April until mid-July and again from mid-September until October.

The climate is tropical in the north; the dry season there lasts from November until May and the rainy season from June until September. Temperatures along the coast are tolerable, though temperatures often soar above 40°C in the north where there is, fortunately, dry air and cool nights. The Harmattan, a hot and dusty wind, blows across desert regions during the dry season.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +229
Hospital (C.N.H.U): 21 30 01 55
State Police: 21 31 58 99
Urban Security Cotonou: 21 31 20 11


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal