Access to Markets Project - Independent Performance Evaluation 2016
Independent Performance Evaluation
In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $307 million Compact with the Government of Benin aimed at increasing investments and private sector activity through the implementation of four projects. One of these projects aimed at improving "access to markets" by eliminating physical and procedural constraints currently hindering the flow of goods through the Port of Cotonou. The Access to Markets project completed several substantive activities, including: construction of a new south wharf; extension of a sand-stopping jetty estimated to save the Port over $2.1 USD million spent annually on dredging;9 provision of a tugboat; construction of 2,462 meters of road, 1,584 meters of rail, and five access gates upgraded to better control security of personnel and vehicles accessing the port and circulation around the port; installation of new fire protection and security systems; modernization of customs operations and improved port procedures supported by investments in new hardware, software, communications and training personnel; implementation of a management information system and a centralized automated customs system to monitor all customs operations in real time; and the acquisition and implementation of pollution control equipment.
The Access to Markets Project was designed to improve port performance and security, expand capacity, and reduce port operating costs, thereby reducing overall transport costs which facilitate economic growth through increased specialization, product quality and trade.
The project evaluation began in summer 2015, nearly four years after the closeout, providing ample time to detect effects of these operational changes. Because it was a single-site project, with no clearly identifiable counterfactual, MCC and the evaluators agreed to conduct a performance evaluation of the project implementation, focusing on a set of research questions grouped into seven categories: Competitiveness, Trade, Efficiency, Costs, Employment, Corruption and other Unanticipated Impacts. The analyses of these questions rely on:
- Existing port activity records;
- Private sector activity records;
- Port Investment literature reviews;
- Focus Group discussions with port users and dwellers; and
- Key informant interviews (with Benin government officials and private sector actors).
A detailed evaluation design report is provided as related materials and available on MCC’s evaluation catalog.
- v01: Edited, anonymous dataset for public distribution.
The MCC formulated research questions which guided the performance evaluation. These research questions are categorized into topics related to “key anticipated results” including: competiveness, trade volume, operational efficiency, costs, integra-tion of internal markets, employment, corruption, unanticipated impacts, monitoring and process questions, and lessons learned and recommendations.
Port of Cotonou
Producers and sponsors
NORC at the University of Chicago
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
Program implementation concluded by October 2011. Final data collection was completed in September 2016.
In general, the project team had significant issues obtaining much of the essential data, including data from the PAC (Port of Cotonou). Much of the data that was received was only obtained very late in the assessment, which delayed the finalization of the methodology and created redundancies in conducting analysis. Key data received regarding operational efficiency and level of service was only provided through annual reports, which were sometimes in Word or PDF format, which further complicated the data collection process. The PAC often only provided data through 2013 or 2014 depending on the indicator, which does not allow us to fully assess the impact of the investment including the impacts of the operation of the South terminal. The PAC was not willing to provide additional data and did not respond to follow-up requests by the project team.
The most important challenge is that despite significant efforts to establish complete time-series datasets, there are gaps in the datasets for many of the most important indicators. Unfortunately we are missing too many data points to have continuous time series data for many of the indicators. For example, ship productivity is one of the most important indicators, but data for this indicator was not an M&E indicator and was only accessible for the period from 2006 to 2009 for the North Terminal and 2015 to June 2016 for the South terminal. Similarly, very little data exists on truck delays and turn time, so we cannot quantitatively analyze whether changes in port capacity affected congestion. Instead, qualitative assessments from interviews and focus group discussions will have to fill in these gaps, especially in terms of attribution and describing exogenous factors that may be affecting port performance.
NORC at the University of Chicago
MCC’s flawed logic and assumptions suggest that investment in incremental port capacity should lead directly to positive economic returns measured in terms of job creation in Benin’s manufacturing, agribusiness processing and non-port service sectors. An extensive literature suggests otherwise: investment in port infrastructure is a necessary but not sufficient condition for economic growth. MCC acknowledges that a more rigorous constraint analysis upstream could have determined that neither port capacity nor efficiency were binding constraints to growth.
The M&E indicators should contain measures of port operational efficiency, which are key measures of port performance. The timing of the baseline data for evaluation should be linked to the timing of the program implementation.
Monitoring & Evaluation Division of the Millennium Challenge Corporation
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download