Since 1991 with the support of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Burkina Faso has undertaken profound economic reforms in the prospect of restructuring its economy in order to create good conditions for sustainable economic growth.
Three generations of structural adjustment programs have been conducted with success and have allowed especially the progressive liberalization of the economy, the elimination of barriers and the disengagement of the State from the sectors of production.
Nowadays, the fundamentals of the economy in Burkina Faso are good. Since 1995, Burkina Faso has registered an average economic growth of 5.5% per year and a moderate inflation rate of 2.4%. Despite such relatively satisfactory growth, Burkina Faso remains one of the least developed countries with a per capita income of 600 USD in 2007.
Heavily dependent on rainfall, the economy in Burkina Faso has witnessed an instable growth rate in the last years with 4.6% in 2004, 7.1% in 2005, 5.5% in 2006 and 4% in 2007.
Characteristics of the Economy of Burkina Faso: Situation of the Sectors of Economic Activity
1 – Agriculture and Cattle Breeding
The first sector represented by agriculture and cattle breeding is the main sector of economic activity in Burkina Faso with a contribution of 33,3% to the GDP of the country in 2006. The vast majority of the population (around 90%) makes a living from this sector which represents 75% of the total export products of the country. This sector has witnessed an annual average growth rate of 5.7% from 1997 to 2007.
The system of vegetal and cattle production is extensive, heavily dependent on climate change and characterized by a predominance of the production of cereals.
Vegetal production: It comprises three categories:
- A) The Farming of Subsistence Products, aimed essentially at covering the needs of the country.
These subsistence products are mainly sorghum, millet, corn, and rice which occupy nearly 90% of the country’s cultivated lands. These cereals constitute the basic products of alimentation in Burkina Faso and are essentially self-consumed by the Burkinabe. The national production of cereals in 2008 was estimated to 4,210,000 tons among which 236,000 tons was rice.
- B) The Farming of Cash Crop is mainly constituted by cotton, shea nuts, peanuts, sesame, acajou nuts, and green beans.
Cotton in Burkina Faso is the major export product. It represents 60% of export revenues of the country. Approximately 98% of the national production of cotton is exported under the form of cotton fiber. Since 2004, Burkina Faso has become the first producer of cotton in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006, the country has produced 806,000 tons of cotton. In 2007, cotton has given to the country 354 million USD as revenue from exports.
- C) Irrigated Farming and Fruit Production
The irrigated culture in Burkina Faso is dominated by the farming of green beans which is exported to Europe, potatos and tomatos. In addition onion, lettuce, cucumber, gumbo, etc. are also produced in Burkina Faso.
Besides, various fruits are produced in Burkina Faso such as mango, papaya, a part of which is exported to Europe (France, Holland). Other fruits (bananas, oranges, water melons, strawberries, pineapples, mandarina …) are commercialized directly in the local market.
Cattle breeding in Burkina Faso is mainly extensive and based on mobility and on an extensive exploitation of natural resources (natural grazing). It is an important source of income for the economy of Burkina Faso since it contributes around 10% of the national GDP and remains the country’s second major source of income. It constitutes 15% of the country’s export income and generated around 85 million USD of export income in 2007.
According to the local statistical data of 2007, livestock in Burkina Faso is composed of Zebu cattle (7.8 million), sheep and goats (18.5 million), fowls (25 million) and many other species.
2 – Industrial and Mining Sector
The secondary sector in Burkina Faso which accounted for 22.4% of the country’s total GDP in 2006 is represented mainly by agro-industry and mining. It has witnessed an annual average growth of 7.9% over the period 1997-2007.
The industrial sector in Burkina Faso remains weak and is essentially oriented toward the transformation of raw materials especially the transformation of agricultural products and livestock. It only employs 5% of the active population and its contribution to export revenues accounts for only 1%. The industries in Burkina Faso aim in priority at satisfying the needs of the local consumption. The agribusiness activities remain dominant in the field of transformation industries with 46% of employment and 55% of added-value of the sector. The other branches are textile, leather, wood, chemical industries and construction industries.
The mining sector accounts for around 3% of the GDP of Burkina Faso. It essentially sells gold which is obtained through industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal extraction. Gold in Burkina Faso is the third export product of the country after cotton and livestock. Gold mines and phosphate and zinc deposits are the only currently exploited deposits. However, mining prospection undertaken in Burkina Faso has led to the discovery of huge potentialities in terms of mining resources: gold, manganese, marble, bauxite, blanche, copper, zinc, lead, antimony, nickel, cement limestone, etc.
In order to promote this huge potential in the mining sector, the Government of Burkina Faso has, since 2004, created a friendly juridical, economic, fiscal and financial framework toward investing in the mining sector with particularly a new and inciting mining code which has been adopted in May 2003.
3 - Services
The sector of services contributed up to 44.3% of the country’s GDP in 2006 and has witnessed an average annual growth rate of 5.4% from 1997 to 2007.
Transport Infrastructure: the geographical location of Burkina Faso as a landlocked and country of transit gives the transformation of infrastructure a key role to play in the economic prosperity of the country.
- Roads: efforts have been made in order to develop and modernize road infrastructure in the prospect of meeting the increasing demand of domestic and international transportation. For instance there are among others: paved roads linking Burkina Faso to its neighboring countries (Ivory Coast, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Mali), paved national roads leading to the linking of inner provinces to urban areas and the capital city, and the implementation of a program of road maintenance and rehabilitation.
- Railway Infrastructure: Burkina Faso has a railway system of 1.245 km (of which 525 km run inside the country) running from Burkina Faso to Ivory Coast and linking the main cities of the country: Ouagadougou, Koudougou, Bobo-Dioulasso and Banfora
- Port Infrastructure: As a country without coastline, Burkina Faso Burkina Faso only has transit ports in Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Ghana.
- Air Transportation: There are two (2) international airports in Burkina Faso: Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Besides the national airline company Burkina Airline, there are several other airline companies that cover the country such as among others Air France (with daily flights), Ivory Coast Airline, Senegal Airline International, Algeria Airline, Royal Morocco Airline and Ethiopian Air Ways.
Telecommunication: Telecommunication network in Burkina is very reliable and modern. Nowadays all countries around the world are automatically accessible from Burkina Faso
The market for the mobile telephone network has been booming since the liberalization of the sector in 2000 with the arrival of two new private operators such as telecel and Celtel (renamed Zain).
The office of national telecommunication (ONATEL), the historic operator of telecommunication in Burkina Faso and its subsidiary company of mobile telecommunication (Telmob) were privatized in December 2006 after a call for international offers. 51% of its shares are owned by Morocco Telecom.
Tourism: Burkina Faso has huge potentialities in terms of tourism especially:
a) Natural Resources: lakes, pitfalls, forests, national parks, reserves of fauna, etc.
b) Historic Buildings: ruins of Lorepéni, mosques, traditional houses, etc.
c) International Cultural Manifestations such as the well-renown Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the International Art and Craft Fair of Ouagadougou (SIAO), the National Week of Culture (SNC), a tribune where people in Burkina Faso express their different cultures through artistic and cultural competitions.
d) Modern Centers of Articraft:
Burkina Faso is ranked top 5 preferred touristic destination in West Africa.
Craft industry: Burkina Faso is endowed with a great wealth of traditional artisan culture. It contributes to around 15% of the GNP of the country. There are splendid decorative artifacts (embroidery, sculpture, jewelry, and more importantly metallurgy) and utilitarian items (loom weaving, traditional metallurgy, tailoring, pottery, dyeing, etc.). The International Art and Craft Fair of Ouagadougou (SIAO) which is held in Ouagadougou every two years since 1988 ensures the promotion of our rich local and African heritage.
Bronze is one of the most traditional artistic craft industries.
Artifacts related to the use of leather and animal fur are also very common in Burkina Faso.
Pottery is also one of the most common craft activities in the country.