Burkina Faso is a low-income ($690 gross per capita income in 2014), landlocked Sub-Saharan country, with limited natural resources. Its population, which is growing at an average annual rate of 3%, was estimated at almost 17.9 million inhabitants in 2014. The economy is heavily reliant on agricultural production, 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.
2015 marked a new chapter in Burkina Faso’s history. One year after the popular uprising of October 2014 that forced President Blaise Compaore into exile after 27 years in power, the country organized presidential and legislative elections. On November 29, 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, head of the People’s Movement for Progress (MPP), was elected president of Burkina Faso with 53,46% of the votes in the first round. Zephirin Diabre from the Union for Change and Progress (UPC), was runner up with 29,62% of the votes.
President Kabore’s party, the MPP, won 55 of the 127 parliamentary seats. Through alliances with certain parties, the MPP is guaranteed a majority in Parliament. For the first time in the country’s history, the Burkinabe people have chosen a president through free and fair elections.
On January 15, 2016, Burkina Faso was struck by a terrorist attack which resulted in several casualties.
While Burkina Faso has experienced average annual growth of 6% over the past few years, growth slowed to a rate of 4% in 2014. This may be attributed to the significant and persistent fall in the prices of gold and cotton (27% and 8% respectively), the decline in cereal production and the political crisis of 2014.
This situation has had an impact on public finances, reflected particularly in a decline in investments and public revenue. Private investments also contracted, owing to the wait-and-see attitude adopted by private investors following the events of 2014. The policy of providing cereal subsidies, pursued with support from technical and financial partners, together with a conservative monetary policy by the Central Bank for West African States (BCEAO) have helped to keep inflation at a rate of -0.3%, well below the 3% target set by WAEMU. Following the second and third reviews of the Extended Credit Facility Agreement, the IMF in June 2015 approved the request to increase resources to Burkina Faso. The World Bank is pursuing its policy of cooperation with the transition government through a number of projects, including the provision of budgetary support in the amount of $100 million.
The forecast for economic growth in 2015 is good, despite a morose international economic environment, characterized by the continued decline in commodity prices. This situation is compounded by the negative consequences of power outages and the impact of the avian flu outbreak. Growth in 2015 is projected at approximately 4.9%, while inflation should remain below the WAEMU threshold of 3%. Public revenues should decline, owing to the fall in gold and cotton prices, as well as customs and tax fraud. Budgetary support from the World Bank and recourse to the regional financial market will enable the budget deficit to remain well within the quantitative criteria agreed with the IMF.
There have been positive changes in the human development outlook: (i) infant mortality dropped from 65 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 43 per 1000 live births in 2015; (ii) maternal mortality rates also fell from 484 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1995, to 341 deaths in 2010. Life expectancy at birth stood at 57 in 2009, higher than the regional average of 50 years.
The gross primary school enrolment rate rose from 57% in 2005 to 81% in 2013. Access to secondary education has also increased, improving from a 20% enrolment in lower secondary schools in 2005 to 37% in 2013 and from 5.6% to 14% for upper secondary education. However, the quality of secondary education remains a matter of concern. In addition, the literacy rate for young people, which in 2010 was 28.7%, is lower than the average rate of 70% for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The poverty rate was estimated at 40.1% in 2014, as against 46% in 2009. Burkina Faso has moved up two places in the 2014 edition of the UNDP Human Development Index and now ranks 181 out of 187, as against 183 the previous year.
Burkina Faso remains vulnerable to changes in rainfall patterns and unstable commodity prices. Its economic and social development will, to some extent, be contingent on political stability within the country and sub-region, as well as its openness to international trade and export diversification. Second generation reforms, involving economic liberalization and employment generation by small and medium enterprises, will help to ensure sustainable growth.
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2016