Benin’s official language is French. English is not widely spoken, although Benin is expanding English training in its schools. U.S. companies seeking to do business in Benin may require interpreter services.
Corruption remains a problem throughout Benin, but contacts report lower-level corruption has decreased and the government has successfully prosecuted and dismissed some mid-level officials due to corruption. The process of resolving civil disputes can be slow due to Benin’s inefficient bureaucracy. In July 2016, Benin passed a law that formally created a Commercial Tribunal of first instance and a commercial appellate court to settle business-related disputes. The Commercial Tribunal has been operational since December 2017.
Reliable and steady access to electricity and quality internet connectivity to households and businesses remain challenges, especially outside of urban areas. 3G and 4G internet are available from private cell phone service providers.
Businesses should be particularly cautious about unknown Beninese “companies” promising high-volume business deals. A number of perpetrators of sophisticated internet scams (especially demands for fraudulent advance fees), originating in other countries, use a fictitious address in Benin as a base to defraud American and other foreign companies and citizens via “419” scams, named for section 419 of a Nigerian law aimed at combatting financial crime.