Cotonou (AFP) Benin’s President Patrice Talon has asked local firm Petrolin and French giant Bollore to “withdraw” from a major rail infrastructure project to make way for China, in the latest development of the controversial scheme. In an interview published on Thursday in the French magazine Challenges, Talon asked the two companies to “withdraw amicably from the project”, which links Benin to Niger to the north, promising they will be “compensated fairly”. “A private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone,” the head of state was quoted as saying,Read More
Cotonou (AFP) A court in Benin on Tuesday jailed seven local pharmaceutical executives for four years on charges of selling illicit medicines after a trial that breaks new ground in West Africa’s campaign against fake drugs. The seven were convicted of “the sale of falsified medicines, display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances.” They work for wholesale pharmaceutical distribution companies, five of which — GAPOB, Ubipharm, CAME, Ubephar and Promo Pharma — dominate the sector in Benin. They were also fined 100 millionRead More
Bakou (Benin) (AFP) The sleepy town of Bohicon in southern-central Benin roars into life during the cotton harvest between January and March. Enormous trucks piled high with “white gold” trundle down the roads to the town’s cotton-processing plant. Yerima Fousseni, head of the cotton-growers cooperative in Wewe district farther north, says 2018 has been a bumper harvest — more than 46 tonnes, triple last year’s yield. “We now have 32 farmers in the village — before, there were only 10 of us. Everyone has been able to see that there’sRead More
Cotonou (AFP) Nine people appeared in a Benin court Wednesday on charges of selling fake drugs at the start of a landmark trial in a regional campaign against illicit medicines. The suspects, who include executives from major pharmaceutical companies operating in the West African nation, were remanded in custody until March 6 on technical grounds. They are accused of “the sale of falsified medicines, (and) display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances.” A tenth defendant, the head of the Directorate for Pharmacies, MedicationsRead More
Tanguiéta (Benin) (AFP) Matthieu Yoa smiles at a job well done. The ranger and his colleagues have just put a satellite tracking collar on an elephant in the Pendjari National Park in northern Benin. “It was very strong,” he says in halting French, visibly emotional about what he has just done to help protect the animal. Although Yoa was born just a few kilometres (miles) outside the huge 4,700-square-kilometre (1,814-square-mile) park, the 23-year-old had never seen the wild animals until two months ago. “Except in documentaries,” he said. He wasRead More
Tanguiéta (Benin) (AFP) Jean-Marc Froment leant against a railing at the lodge in Pendjari National Park in Benin’s far north, and spotted about 40 elephants drinking at a large water hole. Almost in slow motion, a group of adults — their trunks and ears pointing forward — chased away two female lions watching nearby and stood in the way of other predators so their young could quench their thirst in safety. “See how they’re arriving calmly? That was unthinkable a couple of months ago. They were still very nervous,” saidRead More
Cotonou (AFP) French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise announcement during his recent African tour, saying in Burkina Faso’s capital that one of his priorities was to restore African cultural treasures. African cultural heritage “should be highlighted in Paris, but also in Dakar, Lagos, Cotonou”, Macron told a crowd of students at a university in Ouagadougou. “This will be one of my priorities. In five years, I want the conditions to be met to return African heritage to Africa.” Delivered at the end of his speech, this sentence resonated especiallyRead More
Cotonou (AFP) Benin’s government and health sector unions have reached an agreement to end a crippling two-month strike that saw treatment in public hospitals and clinics grind to a halt, the government said on Saturday. Workers walked out in August over proposed privatisation plans, which are part of wider free-market reforms from President Patrice Talon’s government to kick-start the country’s slowing economy. The walkout is said to have been responsible for the deaths of a number of patients and led to mounting public anger. But a government source said anRead More
Cotonou (AFP) Three senators from Haiti pause in reflection in front of a statue of their country’s independence hero Toussaint Louverture in Allada, southern Benin, where he had his roots. The West African and Caribbean countries, separated by thousands of kilometres (miles) and ocean, share the same history but also the same religion — voodoo. Jean Renel Senatus, Jean-Marie Junior Salomon and Ronald Lareche came to Benin late last month on a research trip as part of Haiti’s reforms of its 19th-century penal code. Part of the process is takingRead More
Cotonou (AFP) Getting around most towns and cities in West Africa often means an uncomfortable ride on public transport or haggling hard with a taxi driver. Benin’s economic capital, Cotonou, is no different and is famous for its thousands of “zemidjans”, the cheap motorbike-taxis that throng the city’s roads at rush hour. But that is changing with the arrival of clean, comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles that can be ordered by a mobile phone app, WhatsApp or a freephone number. Ivory Coast’s Africab and Soft Taxis Benin are both already operating inRead More