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Quest Economic Database






Copyright 2002 Janet Matthews Information Services
Quest Economics Database
Africa Review World of Information
September 26, 2002
SECTION: Comment & Analysis; Country Profile; Statistics; Forecast; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 2352 words

Historical profile

Formerly an ancient African kingdom, the area was taken over by France in the nineteenth century.

1958 Given self-government.

1960 Granted full independence from France as Upper Volta.

1980-82 The first president, Maurice Yameogo, was ousted by Colonel Sangoule Lamizama, who was in turn deposed by another colonel, who was ousted by a group of sergeants and corporals, later joined by some officers.

1983 Captain Thomas Sankara took over as president and changed Upper Volta's name.

1987 Sankara was assassinated. Captain Blaise Compaore seized power on 15 October.

1991 Compaore was elected president in November, following the withdrawal of opposition candidates.

1992 Legislative elections postponed from January took place on 24 May, when the Organisation pour la Democratie Populaire-Mouvement du Travail (ODP-MT) (Compaore's party) won a convincing victory. The President appointed a coalition seven-party cabinet.

1998 Compaore won 87.53 per cent of the votes in the November presidential elections which were boycotted by opposition parties.

1999 Prime Minister Ouedraogo and his cabinet resigned on 8 January but he and his cabinet were reinstated by presidential decree on 11 January.

2000 Student demonstrations were broken up by police who allegedly killed and tortured some of the protestors. The IMF and World Bank agreed US $ 400 million in debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In December, advisers to the UN claimed that Burkina Faso had helped destabilise the region by breaking a UN arms and diamonds embargo.

2001 In June, international donors agreed to fund a US $ 85 million programme to combat the AIDS epidemic in Burkina Faso.

Political structure


Military rule ended on 2 June 1991 and a constitution was adopted allowing for multi-party politics.

Constitutional changes were adopted by the National Assembly in January 1997. These included the abolition of the limit of two seven-year terms for the president, and an increase in the number of seats in the legislature from 107 to 111.

Form of state: Unitary and secular state

The executive

Executive power is vested in the head of state (the president), who is elected by universal suffrage for a seven-year term, and in the government, which is elected by the president.

National legislature

Multi-party Assemblee des Deputes Populaires (ADP) (National Assembly) with 111 members, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term.

Last elections: 15 November 1998 (presidential); May 1997 (legislative).

Next elections: 5 May 2002 (parliamentary, delayed); 2005 (presidential).

Political parties

Ruling party

Coalition led by Congres pour la Democratie et le Progres (CDP) (Congress for Democracy and Progress)

Main opposition party

Parti pour la Democratie et le Progres (PDP) (Party for Democracy and Progress)

Population: 11.90 million (2000)

The annual population growth was 2.4 per cent in the period 1994-2000. Approximately 46 per cent of the population is under 15 years.

Population density: 39 inhabitants per square km. Urban population: 19 per cent (1994-2000).

An estimated two million Burkinabes live in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire.

Ethnic make-up

There are a number of ethnic groups, the most numerous of whom are the Mossi in the north (49 per cent), the Gourma in the east and the Bobo in the south-west. Other sizeable groups include the Fulani, the Hausa, the nomadic Tuareg with their Bella domestic serfs in the north-west and the Lobi in the south.


Animist (55 per cent), Muslim (40 per cent), Catholic (5 per cent).


Three in five children are unable to go to school, since more children apply for schools than there are places. Although most children will not have heard any French at home, it is used in teaching. School fees are charged although payment can be put off until after harvest. About 10 per cent of schools are run outside the state system. Oxfam estimates that 49 per cent of children age 6-11 will enrol for school in 2015.


Life expectancy: 44 years (1998). Infant mortality rate: 104 per 1,000 live births (1998). About 33 per cent of children were malnourished (1992-98).

Around 7 per cent of the population are infected. With over 70 per cent of sex workers testing positive, there is a distinct chance that the pandemic will hit the country badly in coming years. According to studies by UNAIDS, the economic impact is being felt at the household level with AIDS expenditures double the GDP per capita income. This is exacerbated by the decline in agricultural incomes caused by AIDS deaths in the agricultural sector. The UN-affiliated organisation claims that there is a serious shortfall in public expenditure on scaled-up care and preventative measures. Moreover, it states that the loss in GDP per capita income is likely to be 0.8 per cent by 2010.

In June 2001, international donors pledged US $ 85 million to Burkina Faso for a five-year programme to fight the epidemic and its effects.

Main cities

Ouagadougou (estimated population 900,000 in 1998), Bobo Dioulasso (250,000), Koudougou (50,000).

Languages spoken

French is the universal medium for documentation. African languages include More, Dioula, Gourmantche and Peul.

Official language: French



Dailies: The main national dailies are Sidwaya (government-controlled), Le Pays, l'Observateur (Burkinabe daily newspaper) and 24 Heures, published from May 2000 by the Journal du Jeudi media group.

Weeklies: Weeklies published from Ouagadougou include Independent, Intrus Journal du Jeudi, Observateur and Le Journal du Soir.

Periodicals: Several periodicals mainly economic and industrial are published.


Radio: Radio Burkina broadcasts in French and 13 African languages. Also private FM stereo radio (Horizon FM).

Television: Television Nationale du Burkina provides transmissions seven days a week to Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso, Koudougou and Ouahigouya, in French and African languages.


The government is heavily in arrears on domestic and foreign debts and depends on foreign aid. More than 80 per cent of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture and nomadic livestock rearing.

The government has implemented a series of economic reforms under the auspices of the IMF. Although GDP growth has improved in recent years, particularly after the devaluation of the currency in the mid-1990s, the economy is fragile and there has been little headway in reducing poverty.

External trade


Main exports include cotton, gold, live animals, hides and skins and manufactures.

Main destinations: China, France, Italy, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, UK, Japan.


Main imports are food, fuel and energy and capital goods.

Main sources: France, Cote d'Ivoire, Italy, US, Ghana, the Netherlands.


The agricultural sector accounts for around a third of GDP and employs three-quarters of the workforce. It accounts for around 50 per cent of export earnings. Over 90 per cent of the population is engaged in subsistence farming and nomadic stock raising.

Principal food crops are sorghum, millet, yams, maize, rice and beans.

Burkina Faso is prone to drought and has poor soil. Only 10 per cent of the total land area is cultivated. There are plans to mechanise farming and open up new areas for development.

Cotton is the main cash crop; others are sheanuts, sesame and sugar cane.

Livestock production is concentrated in the north, mainly for export to Cote d'Ivoire (which has severely restricted its Burkinabe beef imports in recent years) and Ghana.

Industry and manufacturing

The industrial sector as a whole contributes around 28 per cent to GDP and employs 10 per cent of the workforce; manufacturing contributes over 20 per cent.

Production is centred on the processing of agricultural commodities (flour milling, sugar refining, manufacture of cotton yarn and textiles) and production of consumer goods including moped/bicycle assembly, footwear and soap manufacture.

Foreign investment is minimal and development remains handicapped by the chronic shortages of raw materials and spares.


The tourism sector employs around 10,000 people directly, and more than 20,000 indirectly.


The sector contributes around 7 per cent to GDP and employs 2 per cent of the workforce.

Activity is confined to extraction of gold-bearing quartz at Poura (reserves estimated at 30 tonnes), marble and antimony.

There are viable deposits of zinc and silver at Perkoa, and some 15 million tonnes of manganese deposits at Tambao, as well as known reserves of limestone, bauxite, nickel, phosphates and lead.

Exploitation of resources is hindered by weak infrastructure.

Burkina Faso has a geological structure similar to that of the world's richest gold producing areas.


Burkina Faso has no known hydrocrabons reserves and its downstream industry entirely relies on imported refined oil.


The rural population relies on wood as a fuel for cooking, which is causing problems of deforestation and desertification in some areas.

Electricity supply is overseen by the Societe Nationale Burkinabe d'Electricite (Sonabel). Installed generation capacity is estimated at around 90MW. Only 7 per cent of the country has access to electricity and there is no national electricity grid. Thermal power generators supply 60 per cent of electricity.

Government policy is directed towards reducing Sonabel's production costs, thereby reducing its extortionate prices. Moreover, electricity development is regarded as crucial to the country's development and the government is keen to extend transmission lines and improve supply to meet growing demand.

Financial markets

Burkina Faso has no stock exchange.


The banking sector has undergone liberalisation in recent years, with the government restricting its involvement to around a quarter of the sector.

Central bank

Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (central banking authority for the members of the West African Monetary Union)

Main financial centre: Ouagadougou

Time: GMT


Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered by Mali to the west and north, by Niger to the east, and by Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to the south.


The climate is tropical. The dry season runs from November-March, when the Harmattan wind blows keeping the humidity low. Temperatures in Ouagadougou range from 14 degrees C at night to over 35 degrees C during the day. The main rainy season is from June-October. The highest rainfall is in the south, lowest in the far north where an arid desert climate prevails.

Entry requirements


Required by all except holders of national identity cards issued to nationals of Benin, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

Passports must be valid for six months after departure.


Required by all except nationals of Benin, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

An onward or return ticket is also required.

Currency advice/regulations

There are no restrictions on the import/export of foreign currency or local currency.

Health (for visitors)

Mandatory precautions

Yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Advisable precautions

Typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio vaccinations are recommended. Malaria prophylaxis should be taken as risk exists throughout the country. Water precautions are also advisable. There is a risk of rabies. Visitors should seek advice with regard to vaccinations for diphtheria, heptaitis B, meningitis and tuberculosis.


Hotels are available in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso with limited availability elsewhere. It is advisable to book in advance. Service is included in bills and gratuities are customary for taxis and porters.

Public holidays (2002)

Fixed dates

1 January, 8 March, 1 May, 4 August (National Day), 15 October, 1 November (All Saints' Day), 1 December, 25 December.

Variable dates

Easter Monday, Ascension, Whit Monday, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Ashura, Prophet's Birthday, Al Hijra.

Working hours

Banking: Mon-Fri: 0830-1130 and 1530-1630.

Business: Mon-Fri: 0730-1230 and 1500-1730.

Government: Mon-Fri: 0730-1230 and 1500-1730.

Shops: (Mon-Sat) 0800-1300 and 1500-1900; (Sun) 0800-1200.



Dialling code for Burkina Faso: IDD access code + 226 followed by subscriber's number (there are no area codes).

Electricity supply

220/380V AC, 50 cycles.

Getting there


National airline: Air Burkina


Road: Most practical during dry seasons - from Mali (Bamako) and Niger (Niamey), when buses operate on these routes. The road from Ghana is being improved. Land journeys are also possible from Cote d'Ivoire, Benin and Togo.

Rail: Daily express service from Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) to Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. Sleeping and dining cars.

Getting about

National transport

Air: Air Burkina serves Ouagadougou, Bobo Dioulasso and other main centres. Light aircraft can be chartered from Air Burkina. The airline also operates flights to surrounding countries, Mali, Togo, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire and Niger.

City transport

Taxis: Unmetered and available in main centres. A 10 per cent tip is usually given.

Car hire

National licence plus permit or international driving licence required. Use of chauffeur-driven cars advised.

Copyright: Walden Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Walden Publishing Ltd and Quest Information Ltd assume no liability for the consequence of reliance upon any opinion or statement.
LOAD-DATE: September 27, 2002

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