Lionel Zinsou
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Lionel Zinsou
Lionel Zinsou
Lionel Zinsou.jpg
Prime Minister of Benin

18 June 2015 - 6 April 2016
PresidentThomas Boni Yayi
Pascal Koupaki (2013)
Position abolished
Personal details
Born (1953-10-23) 23 October 1953 (age 66)
Paris, France
Political partyAlliance Républicaine
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure
London School of Economics

Lionel Zinsou (born 23 October 1953) is a French–Beninese economist and investment banker who was Prime Minister of Benin from 2015 to 2016. Since June 2017, he has been the president of Terra Nova, a centre-left French think tank.

Early life and education

Zinsou's father was born in Benin, then known as Dahomey. Zinsou himself, who was born in Paris, is a nephew of Émile Derlin Zinsou, who was President of Dahomey from 1968 to 1969.[1]

Zinsou is a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure and the London School of Economics.


Zinsou developed a close association with the French Socialist politician Laurent Fabius and worked under Fabius in the mid-1980s while the latter was in government.[1]

Zinsou was a partner in bankers Rothschilds before joining the investment fund PAI Partners in 2008. He was also Special Adviser to the President of Benin, Yayi Boni, from 2006 to 2011.[1]

In 2013, his Zinsou Foundation opened in Ouidah, Benin, the first museum of contemporary art in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa.[2]

On 18 June 2015, President Yayi Boni appointed Zinsou as Prime Minister of Benin, along with a 27-member government, and assigned him responsibility for economic development.[3] The post of Prime Minister does not exist in the 1990 constitution, and for most of Yayi Boni's presidency—and most of the period since the constitution came into effect—no one held the post. Zinsou's appointment came less than 10 months before the end of the President's second term, and as the latter is barred from seeking re-election, some viewed the appointment as possibly being a signal that Zinsou was his chosen successor.[1]

Zinsou announced on 1 December 2015 that he would stand as the candidate of the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin in the 2016 presidential election. He said that he would focus on financing agriculture and helping informal workers obtain formal employment.[4]

During a visit to Djougou in northwestern Benin, Zinsou's helicopter crashed at a stadium on 27 December 2015. He was not harmed.[5]

In June 2017, Zinsou was appointed as the president of Terra Nova, a centre-left French think tanks.[6]

Other activities


  1. ^ a b c d Edmond D'Almeida, "Bénin : cinq choses à savoir sur Lionel Zinsou, le nouveau Premier ministre", Jeune Afrique, 19 June 2015 (in French).
  2. ^ Philippe Dagen, "Benin blazes a trail for African modern art with opening of museum in Ouidah", The Guardian, 6 January 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Bénin: Lionel Zinsou nommé Premier ministre", Radio France Internationale, 19 June 2015 (in French).
  4. ^ "Benin PM Zinsou confirms to run for president in 2016 polls", Reuters, 2 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Benin prime minister unhurt after helicopter crash", Agence France-Presse, 27 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Le nouveau président de Terra Nova est un ancien banquier pro-Macron". Valeurs actuelles. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ Board of Directors Danone.
Political offices
Title last held by
Pascal Koupaki
Prime Minister of Benin

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