Burkina Faso is a low-income, landlocked Sub-Saharan African country with limited natural resources. Its population, which is growing at an average annual rate of 3.1%, was estimated at almost 18.6 million inhabitants in 2016. The economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, with close to 80% of the active population employed in the sector. Cotton is the country’s most important cash crop, while gold exports have gained importance in recent years.
Elected through a democratic process in late 2015, President Kaboré is halfway through his term, with the next elections slated for 2020. For the past few months, President Kaboré and his government have been facing social discontent marked by major strikes and protests, organized by unions in several economic sectors, to demand salary increases and social benefits.
Moreover, like other countries in the subregion, Burkina Faso is experiencing increasingly challenging security conditions. Although it had been spared for a long time, the country has now entered a cycle of increasingly frequent jihadist attacks.
To overcome these common challenges together, the Sahelian countries (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad) convened the G5 Sahel in February 2014.
In July 2017, the Sahel Alliance was established by the European Union, France, Germany, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank to support these countries’ efforts and help with regional stabilization as they continue to implement their development policies. Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom joined the Alliance, and other partners are expected to take part.
Economic growth increased to 6.4% in 2017 (against 5.9% in 2016), mainly as a result of expanding gold production and an increase in public investment in infrastructure. The increase in consumption linked to
Public finances have deteriorated significantly, with the public deficit worsening to 7.7% of GDP in 2017 against 3.5% in 2016. The increase in tax revenues by one percentage point of GDP was not sufficient to offset increases in the wage bill, transfers, and public investments. To finance the public deficit, the Government combined concessional aid and borrowing on the regional market.
The current account deficit also deteriorated to 8.4% of GDP in 2017 (against 7.2% of GDP in 2016) owing to the increase in the balance of trade deficit resulting from imports and international oil prices.
The economic outlook remains favorable in the short and medium term, with GDP growth projected to stabilize around 6% over the period 2018-2020. The economy is expected to be supported by the agricultural, services, and mining sectors. Net exports and private consumption are also projected to support medium-term growth. Inflation is projected to remain below 3%, in line with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) convergence criteria.
The current account deficit is projected to hold steady at 8% of GDP in 2018 and narrow to 7% of GDP over the next two to three years. The budget deficit (including grants) is expected to fall to 5% of GDP in 2018, then to 3% of GDP beginning in 2019, in accordance with the public deficit limit established by WAEMU.
This outlook is, however, subject to major internal and external risks. On the external front, the country is vulnerable to the volatility of oil import prices and gold and cotton prices. On the domestic front, the terrorist threat and social movements, including public sector strikes, can have a negative impact on the mining sector and on tourism.
Despite a noticeable improvement in recent years, maternal and child health indicators have not yet attained the targets set in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Economic and Social Development Plan (
The under-five mortality rate also dropped from 129 deaths per 1,000 live births to 81.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the neonatal mortality rate dropped from 31 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 23.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015. Overall, infant mortality also decreased substantially, falling to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015 from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1998 (EMD 2015). In 2014, life expectancy was 58.6 years.
Despite a downward trend, malnutrition remains endemic, with a prevalence of acute malnutrition of 7.6 % in 2016 compared to 15.5% in 1998 and an incidence of stunted growth of 27.3%, compared to 34.6% in 1998 (SMART 2016).
Burkina Faso also made progress in the area of education, with the gross enrollment rate (GER) rising from 3% to 4% between 2011 and 2016. This represents a completion rate of 88.9% at the primary level, 49% at the post-primary level, and 16.2% at the secondary level.
Improvement was also noted in the area of gender equality, with the same proportion of access and completion among girls and boys for the primary cycle. However, disparities exist at the post-primary level and widen at the secondary level where only 5% of girls complete secondary education, that is, half as many as boys.
The poverty rate fell slightly between 2009 and 2014, from 46% to 40.1%.
Burkina Faso remains vulnerable to climatic shocks related to changes in rainfall patterns and to fluctuations in the prices of its export commodities on world markets.
Its economic and social development will, to some extent, be contingent on political stability in the country and the subregion, its openness to international trade, and export diversification.
Last Updated: Dec 05, 2018