Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta) is an independent republic with a democratic government, which lies to the west of Niger and forms part of the landlocked West African Region.
The capital city is Ouagadougou, which is where the country’s international airport is situated. Other major cities are Koudougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
The official language is French, in addition to which, the most commonly spoken languages are Moore, Dioula and Peul. Education is provided free of charge and is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 14.
The local currency is the CFA-franc. (US$ / CFA Franc – current exchange rate).
The international time zone for Burkina Faso is Greenwich – 1 and the international dialling code is +226. The principal airlines which fly to Burkina Faso are Air Afrique, Air France and Sabena. As of June 1995 all visitors to Burkina Faso require visas.
Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, schistosomiasis and dengue fever may be contracted while travelling in Burkina Faso. The risk of contraction is based on a number of factors including location, individual’s state of health, current immunisation status, and the local disease situation.
Burkina Faso’s economy is fragile, with a large external current account deficit, heavy dependence on external assistance and few export commodities. Cotton is the most noteworthy export. In 2002 GDP was at US$2.8 billion with a growth rate of 4.6%. Agriculture accounts for 37.6% of GDP, industry 20% and services 41%.
The country’s economic recovery in the 1990s was the result of major economic and institutional reforms, including trade liberalisation (domestic and foreign), especially for agricultural products; public enterprises sector reform (including an effective banking sector reform); and fiscal reform that introduced VAT and brought reforms in budget preparation and execution procedures.
Burkina remains committed to the structural adjustment programme it launched in 1991, and it has been one of the first beneficiaries of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt-relief and poverty reduction programs for highly indebted poor countries. At least 20% of the government budget is financed from international aid, and the majority of infrastructure investments are externally financed. Growth rates had been more than 5% from the late 1990s through 2003.
Burkina has excellent relations with European aid donors, as well as Libya, Taiwan, and other states which have offered financial aid. France and the European Union, in particular, provide significant aid. Other donors with large bilateral aid programs include Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada. President Compaore is active in subregional diplomacy in West Africa.
Manufacturing is limited to cotton and food processing (mainly in Bobo-Dioulasso) and import substitution heavily protected by tariffs. Some factories are privately owned, and others are set to be privatized. Burkina’s exploitable natural resources are limited, although deposits of manganese, zinc, limestone, marble, phosphate and gold have attracted the interest of international mining firms.
A railway connects Burkina with the port of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 1,150 kilometers (712 mi.) away. Due to the closure of the border with Cote d’Ivoire, this railway was not operational between September 2002 and September 2003, but cargo and limited passenger service are now offered. Primary roads between main towns in Burkina Faso are paved. Domestic air service and flights within Africa are limited. Phones and Internet service providers are relatively reliable, but the cost of utilities is very high.
Current spending exceeds budgetary allocations, owing to unforeseen humanitarian assistance, border patrol, and security spending as a result of the crisis in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, the country’s major regional trading partner; higher-than-forecast spending on goods and services, including telephones, electricity and water; and larger-than-planned outlays for the May 2002 legislative elections. Inflation was at 3.9% in 2002.
Over 80% of the population of Burkina Faso are engaged in subsistence agriculture and nomadic stock keeping, with only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services. A significant proportion of the male labour force migrates annually to neighbouring countries, particularly Ghana and C’ote d’Ivoire, for seasonal employment. Most workers are employed in the agriculture sector in growing peanuts, shea nuts, cotton, millet, corn rice, sesame sorghum and tending livestock.
Political and economic problems in Cote d’Ivoire have had a direct impact on this source of revenue for millions of Burkina households. The military crisis in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire negatively affected trade between the two countries, due to the year-long closure of the border between Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire from September 2002 to September 2003. Goods and services, as well as remittances, continue to flow from Burkinabe living in Cote d’Ivoire, but they have been rerouted through other countries in the region, such as Togo, Ghana, and Benin. Commercial and personal traffic across the border is slowly rebuilding steam.
The main industries in Burkina Faso are concentrated in the agricultural sector, but mining, agricultural processing, brewing and bottling, and light industry does take place on a smaller scale.
Burkina Faso exports cotton, animal products and gold. The country imports machinery, food products and petroleum. Importing and exporting goods to Burkina Faso is free unless the good is subject to an import title or authorisation as determined by the minister of trade. Authorisation needs to be acquired before hand, is valid for 6 months for imports, and 3 months for exports, and may be renewed.
Burkina is attempting to improve the economy by developing its mineral resources, improving its infrastructure, making its agricultural and livestock sectors more productive and competitive, and stabilizing the supplies and prices of food grains. Staple crops are millet, sorghum, maize, and rice. The cash crops are cotton, groundnuts, karite (shea nuts), and sesame. Livestock, once a major export, has declined.
220 million kWh (1996) are produced in Burkina Faso using fossil fuels and hydro electric power. The potential exists, and projects are underway, to increase the hydroelectric installed capacity of Burkina Faso. Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Societe Nationale de l’Electricite et du Gaz (SONELGAZ).
The oil industry in Burkina Faso is one of the key elements in the economy of the country since all petroleum products are imported in their refined form. Burkina Faso has a fledgling mining industry.
Burkina Faso, supported by the World Bank and IMF, has begun to implement reforms, which have helped it to increase its real GDP growth. The World Bank is providing further support for the government by signing a $15m credit deal for an operation, which will support economic reforms and regional integration. The country’s economy has recovered in the 1990s as a result of major economic and institutional reforms which include the reform of budget preparation and execution procedure, trade liberalisation (domestic and foreign), public enterprises sector reform (including an effective banking sector reform) and fiscal reform (introduction of the VAT).
Improvements have been made in enhancing regional integration within the West African Economic and Monetary Union. The country has made progress in the implementation of structural reforms, however limited progress has been made in improving the competitive position of the economy and bringing down Burkina Faso’s high factor costs in the area of electricity, water, and telephones. The country is poor in natural resources and reform of the energy sector has been slower than expected because authorities did not prepare a coherent strategy for the sector.
The privatization of the national telephone company, ONATEL, scheduled for 2002, could not be completed because of delays in the creation of a regulatory authority.
Burkina was rated 173rd on the Human Development Index in 2003. Poverty is widespread and infrastructure is poor. The population is 11.8 million (2002).
Economic Community of West African States, International Finance Corporation, African Union, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Trade Organisation, West African Economic and Monetary Union, Union monétaire ouest-africaine
Complex Ouaga 2000
Belahouro Gold Deposit, Bombore Gold Deposit, Diebuugou, Essakan, Guiro, Kalsaka, Kerboule, Kompienga, Malba Copper/Gold Project, Mana, Maoula, Perkoa, Poura, Rounga, Samandeni, Tambao, Taparko, The Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso, Tounte, University of Ouagadougou
|Accommodation (31):||Alice Residence, Amiso Hotel, Aziz Residence, Eden Park, Hotel Amiso, Hotel Avenir, Hotel de la Gare, Hotel Indépendance, Hôtel Iris, Hotel OK Inn, Hotel Relax, Hotel Silmande, Hotel Yibi, Hotinter Central, Independance Hotel|
|Attractions (21):||Arly Faunal Reserve, Bobo Vieeux Quartier, Bontioli Faunal Reserve, Cascades de Karfiguela, Centre Artisanal, Deux Bale National Park, Domes de Fabedougou, Gorom-Gorom Market, Grand Marche, Grande Marche, Grande Mosquee, Kabore-Tambi National Park, Lake Tengrela, Musee National, Musee Provincial|
|Restaurants (8):||Akwaba, Café INN, La Fontaine bleue, Le Belvédère, Le Jardin Bambou, Le Lotus D’or, Le Tam-Tam, Les Colibris|
|Transport related (2):||Celestair, Faso Airways|