Wednesday, December 4th, 2016, Professor Leonard Wantchekon was the guest on the morning talk show on the National Television channel, ORTB (Benin national Radio and Television Corporation).The founder of the African School of Economics was called upon to speak on the issue of road infrastructure on the program dubbed “5/7 Matins”.
Marie-Louise Perrin was the host, interviewing the eminent economist. The discussion pulled out solutions based on scientific observations. Having carried out numerous research studies on the subject, Pr. Leonard Wantchekon challenged the clichés and stressed that the most important thing for a country like Benin is to build transverse roads to support the current network with its longitudinal trajectories.
To explain his position, the member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences points out that in terms of national road infrastructure, the existing one is inherited from the colonial era and was gradually reinforced by new additions. “The current roads are not an advantage for the emergence of local markets, especially in areas of agricultural production”, he said.
“With this, people are forced to make detours of about 100 or 200 or even 300 kilometres” to travel between nearby cities like Abomey-Calavi and Dangbo (Southern Benin), Cove and Dassa (Central Benin) or Kouande and Kandi (Northern Benin), separated by an average 10 to 30 km, the expert argued.
The immediate consequence is farmer impoverishment in landlocked areas, as the latter sell their products to infrequent buyers at ridiculously low prices, because of the impact of the high cost of transportation on these buyers.
To conclude the interview, the journalist of the National Television also tried to get the eminent professor’s point of view on the Government’s Action Plan presented last December, an action plan that Pr. Wantchekon analyzed scientifically.