Benin has become the first West African country to finalise its membership into the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) – Africa’s only multilateral investment and trade credit insurer.

The treaty was signed on 8th September by Benin president Thomas Yayi Boni and ATI CEO George Otieno.

The agreement will allow Benin to apply for ATI products to guarantee prospective deals.

The treaty also offers added security for investors and has helped ATI achieve and retain an investor-grade A with a stable outlook rating from Standard & Poor’s.

George Otieno says: “When African countries join ATI, they benefit in several ways. First, investors are more inclined to do business in a particular country when their assets can be protected against political and related risks. Second, African exporters and traders are able to compete globally when their payment risks are covered by insurance. And most importantly, ATI’s insurance can help secure financing for vital infrastructure needs.”

In the first half of 2011 ATI received widespread interest in Benin projects from France, Italy, Mauritius, South Africa and the UK.

With a value of US$35mn these projects in the energy, manufacturing, mining and telecommunications sectors could substantially improve Benin’s infrastructure development, ATI says.

ATI is also planning a similar treaty with Ghana in the near future to fully complete its membership process.