Benin





Basic Data

Benin

Official Country Name: Republic of Benin
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 6,395,919
Language(s): French, Fon, Yoruba
Literacy rate: 37%

The tiny state of Benin in West Africa is home to about 15 dailies and more than 20 periodicals. A precise figure is difficult to gauge as newspapers are continually launched while others close down just as frequently. Circulations are small, typically less than 3,000 due largely to a low literacy rate, estimated at about 37 percent for its more than 6 million citizens, and a poor distribution service. The press is largely concentrated in Contonou, the seat of government, and Porto Novo, the official capital.

Newspapers are mostly privately owned and while many are short-lived, a few such as the dailies La Matinal, founded in 1997, Le Point au Quotidien and Les Echoes de Jour, are maintaining a fairly constant presence. The Catholic-oriented La Croix du Benin, founded in 1945 and published fortnightly, is one of only two newspapers that could be considered established. The other is the state-owned daily, La Nacion, which was founded in 1967. A state news agency, Agence Presse Benin (APB), was founded in 1961.

Although Benin is considered to have a free press, journalists receive poor salaries and thus are susceptible to bribery from businessmen and politicians seeking to embellish their image. The government has sought to address this problem by offering 300 million CFA francs, about U.S.$400,000, in aid to privately-owned media every year since 1997.

The increasing number of Beninese with college degrees, and the establishment of training programs for journalists as well as the government's recognition of the value of a free press—athough libel is still punishable by prison—means the press in Benin is edging toward stability and is one of the freest in Africa.

Bibliography

Adjovi, Emmanuel, "Media Status Report: Niger," Partners for Media in Africa, Research and Technology Exchange Group, June 2001. Available from http://www.gret.org/mediapartner/uk2/ressource/edm/pdf/benin.pdf .

"Benin." Central Intelligence Agency, The World Fact-book 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov .

"Benin." International Press Institute. 2001 World Press Freedom Review. Available from http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/benin.htm .

Benin, The Press. In The Europa World Yearbook 2000, 667-8. London: Europa Publications, 2001.

"Benin: Press Overview." International Journalists' Federation, 2001. Available from http://www.ijnet.org/Profile/Africa/Niger/media.html .

"Niger." Committee to Protect Journalists, Africa 2001. Available from http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/africa01/benin.html .

Denis Fitzgerald

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