Burkina Faso is a low-income, landlocked Sub-Saharan 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.
Like other countries in the subregion, Burkina Faso is experiencing increasingly challenging security conditions. Although protected for a long time, the country has entered a cycle of more frequent terrorist attacks. In December 2018, a state of emergency was declared in several provinces, and in January 2019, the ministers of defense and security were replaced following a cabinet reshuffle. The President of the Republic, Roch Kaboré, assumed the role of rotating president of the G5 Sahel in February 2019.
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. Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom also joined th
In an effort to pool resources and combat terrorism, from February 18 to March 1, 2019, Burkina Faso hosted Flintlock 2019, a multinational military exercise involving over 2,000 service members from more than 30 African and western partner nations.
Economic growth held steady at 6% in 2018, despite a challenging national security context and an increase in international oil prices. Economic activity was driven by the services sector, particularly telecommunications, financial services, and the organization of international events such as the International Arts and Handicrafts Trade Show (SIAO) and the Tour du Faso. Economic growth was also supported by continuing dynamism in the mining sector and the rebound in agricultural production. The inflation rate was estimated at 2% in 2018, against 0.4 percent in 2017. This increase was due primarily to the rise in the prices of alcoholic beverages, housing, and hydrocarbons.
The public deficit fell more than 3 percentage points of GDP between 2017 and 2018 and was projected to reach 4.7% of GDP in 2018, against 7.8% in 2017. Prolonged strikes in the public sector, including in the Ministry of Economy, had a negative impact on tax collection. However, an increase in external grants (4.1% of GDP) helped mitigate the adverse effect of social movements on public revenue.
The current account deficit fell to 8.1% of GDP in 2018, compared to 9.7% in 2017, owing to a slight reduction of the trade balance deficit as a percentage of GDP, triggered by the effect of fiscal adjustments targeting imports. Moreover, a rise in official current transfers helped lower the current account deficit.
The economic outlook remains favorable in the medium term, with GDP growth projected to stabilize around 6% over the period 2019-21. The economy is expected to be supported by the services, mining, and agricultural sectors. 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 around 7.5% of GDP during the period 2019-21 as the increase in exports is expected to help reduce the trade deficit. The budget deficit (including grants) is expected to converge to 3% of GDP and hold steady at this rate in the medium term, 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 gold and cotton prices and the rise of international oil prices. On the domestic front, the terrorist threat and social movements, including public sector strikes, can have a negative impact on investments and economic growth.
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 maternal mortality rate fell from 484 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 341 per 100,000 live births in 2016, while
The under-five mortality rate also dropped from 66 deaths per 1,000 live births to 51 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2010 and 2017, while the neonatal mortality rate declined from 31 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 25 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. This results in an overall infant and child mortality rate of 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, down from 116 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010.
Despite a downward trend, malnutrition remains endemic, with a prevalence of acute malnutrition of 7.6% in 2016 compared to 15% in 2010, and an incidence of stunted growth of 27% (compared to 35% in 2010).
In 2016, life expectancy at birth was 60 years.
In recent years, Burkina Faso has made considerable progress in the area of education. The gross enrollment ratio (GRE) at the pre-primary level rose from 3% in 2011 to 4% in 2017.
When disaggregated by gender, these statistics reveal that girls and boys have access to primary education and complete this level in roughly comparable proportions, with a gross primary admission rate of 100.6% for girls and 104.5% for boys, and a gross primary completion rate of 64.3% for girls and 56.6% for boys.
In 2014, the literacy rate among adults was estimated at 34.5%.
In 2017, only 554 students out of 100,000 inhabitants were recorded as being enrolled in higher education, with just 35,410 girls of a total of 105,404 students (34%).
Lastly, the rise in insecurity and terrorism in a number of regions in the country had a negative impact on the education sector. On January 15, 2019, approximately 1,035 primary, post-primary, and secondary schools were closed in those regions, depriving around 141,000 pupils of an education. To address this displacement of pupils, the government prepared an education strategy for pupils in areas experiencing severe security challenges.
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; hence the need to create fiscal space to expedite investments in infrastructure and human capital with the aim of boosting the productivity and competitiveness of the economy.
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019