Benin’s President Names New PM

Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi named Franco-Beninois economist and former investment banker Lionel Zinsou as prime minister of a new government announced on Thursday, in a bid to boost the West African nation’s economic prospects.

Zinsou was a managing partner at French bank Rothschild & Cie before leaving to join Paris-based private equity firm PAI Partners in 2008. He has also served as an adviser to Boni Yayi.

“[Zinsou], an important figure in the business world, will bring Benin closer to its partners and will offer Benin major economic opportunities,” read a statement broadcast on state-owned television.

He will head a 28-member government, which includes 17 new ministers. Most key positions remained unchanged from the previous cabinet however, with the exception of the minister of the interior where senior regional official Placide Azandé replaces businessman Simplice Dossou Codjo.

Benin is forecast to post annual economic growth of 5 percent in coming years, driven by cotton exports and Cotonou’s port, which feeds neighbouring Nigeria. But analysts say graft and poor infrastructure hamper Benin’s development.

Boni Yayi’s ruling alliance lost seats in an April parliamentary election, weakening his ability to push through constitutional reforms opposition figures claimed were part of an attempt to defy term limits and seek another mandate next year.