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Africa

Republic of Namibia

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Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 meters of the Zambezi River separates the two countries.

The country is large and sparsely populated on Africa’s south-west coast and has enjoyed stability since gaining independence on 21st March 1990 after a long struggle against rule by South Africa through a bush war of almost 25 years. The country’s name is derived from the Namib Desert, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The country has a population of 2.3 million people, it is the second least densely populated country in the world (after Mongolia). Capital and largest city is Windhoek, situated in the country’s central highlands. With an area of 824,292 km² (318,260 sq. mi.), Namibia is 1.5 times the size of France, or about half the size of the U.S. state of Alaska.

Namibia is the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and was inhabited since early times by the San, Damara and Nama peoples. Around the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups, the largest being the Ovambo, have dominated the population of the country; since the late 19th century, they have constituted a majority.

In the late 1800s, Germany took control of the area and named it South West Africa. South Africa later occupied the colony during World War I and administered it under a League of Nations as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory. In 1966, the Marxist South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that became Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia has been governed by SWAPO since the country won independence in 1990, though the party has dropped much of its Marxist ideology.

The discovery of diamonds in 1908 prompted an influx of Europeans. Inter-racial reconciliation encouraged the country’s white people to remain and they still play a major role in farming and other economic sectors.

GOVERNANCE

The Government of Namibia consists of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary branches. The Cabinet is the executive organ of government, implementing the laws of the country. It consists of the President, the Prime Minister and his deputy, as well as the Ministers.

The legislative organs of government are the National Council and the National Assembly. They make the laws of the country.

The judiciary organs of government are the courts. The highest court of Namibia is the Supreme Court. There is also the High Court, and lower courts.

The Namibian government is partly centralized and partly regional. In the executive branch, Central government consists of ministries, offices and agencies, whereas regional government consists of Regional Councils, and constituencies within these. The legislation is centralized in the lower house (National Assembly), and regional in the upper house (National Council). The judiciary is centralized in the Supreme Court, whereas High Courts and lower courts are distributed all over the country.

The President is the head of State and government. He is elected in a national election every five years. The current President of the Republic of Namibia is Hage Geingob. President Hage GEINGOB was elected in 2014 in a landslide victory, replacing Hifikepunye POHAMBA who stepped down after serving two terms. SWAPO retained its parliamentary super majority in the 2014 elections and established a system of gender parity in parliamentary positions.

The Legislative branch is made of bicameral Parliament that consists of the National Assembly (104 seats; 96 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms and 8 nonvoting members appointed by the president) and the National Council (42 seats), which primarily reviews legislation passed and referred by the National Assembly; members indirectly elected 3 each by the 14 regional councils to serve 5-year terms.

Politics of Namibia takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Namibia is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by both the President and the Government. Legislative power is vested in both the Government and the two chambers of Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Additional to the government political structure, Namibia has a network of traditional leadership with currently 51 recognized traditional authorities and their leaders. These authorities cover the entire Namibian territory. Traditional leaders are entrusted with the allocation of communal land and the formulation of the traditional group’s customary laws. They also take over minor judicial work.

ECONOMY

The Namibian economy has a modern market sector, which produces most of the country’s wealth, and a traditional subsistence sector. Although the majority of the population engages in subsistence agriculture and herding, Namibia has more than 200,000 skilled workers and a considerable number of well-trained professionals and managerials.

Namibia is a higher middle income country with an estimated annual GDP per capita of US$5,828 but has extreme inequalities in income distribution and standard of living. It leads the list of countries by income inequality with a Gini coefficient of 59.7 (CIA) and 74.3 (UN), respectively.

Since independence, the Namibian Government has pursued free-market economic principles designed to promote commercial development and job creation to bring disadvantaged Namibians into the economic mainstream. To facilitate this goal, the government has actively courted donor assistance and foreign investment.

The liberal Foreign Investment Act of 1990 provides guarantees against nationalization, freedom to remit capital and profits, currency convertibility, and a process for settling disputes equitably. Namibia also is addressing the sensitive issue of agrarian land reform in a pragmatic manner. However, Government runs and owns a number of companies such as Air Namibia, Transnamib and NamPost, most of which need frequent financial assistance to stay afloat.

The country’s sophisticated formal economy is based on capital-intensive industry and farming. However, Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on the earnings generated from primary commodity exports in a few vital sectors, including minerals, especially diamonds, livestock, and fish.

Mining accounts for about 12.5% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Marine diamond mining is increasingly important as the terrestrial diamond supply has dwindled. The rising cost of mining diamonds, especially from the sea, combined with increased diamond production in Russia and China, has reduced profit margins. Namibian authorities have emphasized the need to add value to raw materials, do more in-country manufacturing, and exploit the services market, especially in the logistics and transportation sectors.

Namibia is one of the world’s largest producers of uranium. The Chinese-owned Husab uranium mine began producing uranium ore in 2017, and was expected to reach full production in August 2018 and produce 15 million pounds of uranium a year. Namibia also produces large quantities of zinc and is a smaller producer of gold and copper. Namibia’s economy remains vulnerable to world commodity price fluctuations and drought.

Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years, food shortages are problematic in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, obscures one of the world’s most unequal income distributions; the current government has prioritized exploring wealth redistribution schemes while trying to maintain a pro-business environment. GDP growth in 2017 slowed to about 1%, however, due to contractions in both the construction and mining sectors, as well as an ongoing drought.

A five-year Millennium Challenge Corporation compact ended in September 2014. As an upper middle income country, Namibia was ineligible for a second compact. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Namibia receives 30%-40% of its revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU); volatility in the size of Namibia’s annual SACU allotment and global mineral prices complicates budget planning.

Furthermore, the Namibian economy remains integrated with the economy of South Africa, as the bulk of Namibia’s imports originate there.

AGRICULTURE

OUTJO, 12 April 2013 Some of the cattle donated by the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme through the National Planning Commission (NPC) last October to the Hai//Om San community at Seringkop resettlement farm in the Outjo Constituency. Five of them were attacked by hyenas suspected to have come from the Etosha National Park. (Photo by: Mulisa Simiyasa) NAMPA

Agriculture in Namibia contributes around 5% of the national Gross Domestic Product though 25% to 40% of Namibians depend on subsistence agriculture and herding. Primary products includes livestock and meat products, crop farming and forestry. Only 2% of Namibia’s land receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops. As all inland rivers are ephemeral, irrigation is only possible in the valleys of the Border Rivers Oranje, Kunene, and Okavango.

Animal products, live animals, and crop exports constitute roughly 10.7% of total Namibian exports. The government encourages local sourcing of agriculture products. Retailers of fruits, vegetables, and other crop products must purchase 27.5% of their stock from local farmers.

In the largely white-dominated commercial sector, agriculture consists primarily of livestock ranching. There are about 4,000 commercial farms in Namibia, 3,000 of which are owned by whites. Cattle raising is predominant in the central and northern regions, while karakul sheep and goat farming are concentrated in the more arid southern regions. Subsistence farming is mainly confined to the “communal lands” of the country’s populous north, where roaming cattle herds are prevalent and the main crops are millet, sorghum, corn, and peanuts.

Table grapes, grown mostly along the Orange River in the country’s arid south, are becoming an increasingly important commercial crop and a significant employer of seasonal labor. Rain-fed white maize is produced by farmers mainly in the maize triangle situated between Tsumeb, Otavi and Grootfontein.

The clean, cold South Atlantic waters off the coast of Namibia are home to some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, with the potential for sustainable yields of 1.5 million metric tonnes per year. Commercial fishing and fish processing is the fastest-growing sector of the Namibian economy in terms of employment, export earnings, and contribution to GDP.

The main species found in abundance off Namibia are pilchards (sardines), anchovy, hake, and horse mackerel. There also are smaller but significant quantities of sole, squid, deep-sea crab, rock lobster, and tuna.

At the time of independence, fish stocks had fallen to dangerously low levels, due to the lack of protection and conservation of the fisheries and the over-exploitation of these resources. This trend appears to have been halted and reversed since independence, as the Namibian Government is now pursuing a conservative resource management policy along with an aggressive fisheries enforcement campaign. The government seeks to develop fish-farming as an alternative.

INDUSTRY

Industry contributes to the creation of 31% of GDP and employs about 15% of the population. Namibian industry includes mining, manufacturing, construction, electricity, water, and gas.

Mining

The mining industry is one of the biggest sectors in Namibia accounting for about 25% of the country’s revenue. Despite an abundant supply of minerals such as uranium, zinc, lead, diamond, tungsten, tin, and silver, only 3% of the population is employed in this sector. Fluctuation of world commodity prices also affects the profitability margins and in some cases some mining projects may be abandoned when there is a steady decline in prices.

Diamond mining is the chief contributor of all revenue from the mining industry with a share of 7.2% of the 9.5% that mineral extraction contributes to the GDP of Namibia. The amount of uranium in the country is capable of providing 10% of the world’s uranium output from just two mines. In addition, non-fuel minerals found in the country make it the fourth largest producer in Africa and the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector is the main pillar of the Namibian economy contributing more than 20% of the GDP. This is despite the proliferation of subsidized goods from South Africa, a dispersed population, inadequate local capital, and a semi-skilled labor force. Meatpacking, fish processing, and dairy products processing are some of Namibia’s biggest industries.

A well-developed infrastructure has also led to a larger network and better movement of goods and labor between producers and the market. In addition to this, world-class aviation facilities have made it easier to export perishable goods to outside countries. The ongoing construction of two key artery roads, the Trans-Kalahari highway and the Trans-Caprivi Highway, will open up the region and provide access to Walvis Bay.

Construction

The Namibian construction industry has since independence in 1990 become  an increasingly  important  economic  sector, both in terms of investment and employment,  as the country has experienced  an  increase  in  investment  in  fixed  assets  in  terms  of  both the state and private sectors. From about 2006 to 2008 the  industry experienced  a boom, with the value of construction and building  works climbing  from just  over  N$5 billion  in  2006 to  almost  N$7 billion  in  2008.

Of the 2008 estimate, almost N$3 billion accounted for infrastructure building works. In 2008 the construction industry’s share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hovered around the four percent mark, up from about two percent in 1990. According to the 2008 Namibia Labour Force Survey (released  in  late  2010), 23,316  adults  were  employed  in  the  construction  sector.

This was 7 percent of the total employed workforce. Most of those employed in the sector are either unskilled or semiskilled.  Despite a cross-industry agreement  that workers should be registered  with  the  Social  Security  Commission only 5,627 workers were reported  to be registered  according  to the 2008 survey.

As  an indication  of the volatility  of employment  in  the  construction  industry,  the  2008 labour  force  survey found  that  12.2  percent  of  unemployed  persons were  previously employed  in the sector, exceeded  only by employment  in private households (18.9 percent)  and  repair  of motor  vehicles/wholesale  and  retail  trade  (23.5  percent).  Such  statistics  also  tend  to indicate  that  in  troubled  economic  times,  public  investment  in construction  work could  provide  a living  for thousands of workers who have  had experience  on building  sites but  who are  currently unemployed.

SERVICES

Services sector account for 62% of Namibian GDP and employs about half of the labor force.

FINANCE

Namibia has one of the most sophisticated, diverse, and highly developed financial systems in Africa.  Most financial institutions are private, with strong ownership links to South African institutions. Access to the South African market fills in any gaps.

The performance of the financial system has been shaped by the structural characteristics of the economy.  The financial system serves the formal sector very well, but has been unable to achieve a satisfactory level of access for the urban poor and the rural population.

Owing to limited domestic investment opportunities, institutional investors invest heavily overseas. In addition, Namibia seems to have an acute deficit of skilled financial professionals. Given the structure of the economy, solutions to the policy challenges facing the financial sector go beyond the sector itself and include “real” sector policies such as education, land reform, and rural development.

The financial system assets are about 170% of GDP. This system consists of private commercial banks, insurance companies, pension funds, a stock exchange, a number of asset management and unit trust management companies, several special lending institutions, and a large number and variety of micro-lending institutions. Most of these institutions are private with strong ownership links to South African institutions.

Banking

The Bank of Namibia functions as the Central Bank of Namibia. The Bank was established in 1990 by the Bank of Namibia Act, 1990 (Act 8 of 1990).

The Banking Sector in Namibia comprises of eight banking institutions, which can be categorized as follows: seven commercial banking institutions; and a branch of a foreign banking institution. The Bank also oversee the business conduct of a representative office. These banking institutions are the primary mobilisers of funds from the public and the main sources of financing, which support business operations and economic activities in Namibia.

Transportation

The transport sector in Namibia covers the road, rail, air and maritime transportation modes.  Due to the country’s vastness and the sparsity of the population, road, rail and air transport infrastructure is of relatively greater economic importance than would be the case for a smaller, more density populated country.

Namibian transport infrastructure comprises well-developed and well-maintained proclaimed road network of some  65000km of which about 5500 km  is  high  quality bitumen surfaced roads; 2400km  of  rail  track,  connected to the South African rail system; the ports  of Walvis Bay  and Luderitz; and several airports capable of handling large jet aircraft. Walvis Bay is the main deep water port in Namibia and is expected to be an important commercial gateway to the southern African region.

Government exercises a regulatory function with regard to transport services. This function encompasses economic and quality regulation of road transportation, civil aviation and merchant shipping.

Telecommunications

Telecommunications in Namibia include radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet.

Telecommunication age commenced on 16 January 1899 when the German colonial administration contracted an agreement with the Eastern and South African Telegraph Company in London to participate in the sea cable from Mossamedes (Namibe in Angola) to Cape Town with a link to Swakopmund, the port town of “German South West Africa”.

Further telegraph stations followed in Karibib (9th August 1901), Okahandja (22nd October 1902) and Windhoek (27th October 1902). Swakopmund was the first town to get a telephone network with 28 lines on 1st October 1901. Windhoek, Okahandja and Karibib followed until February 1902. The total trunk connection between Swakopmund and Windhoek was constructed between 1901 and 1906.

Telecom Namibia Ltd is a telecommunications service provider operating in Namibia. It is the national telecommunications operator, established in August 1992 and wholly owned by the Government of the Republic of Namibia. Telecom Namibia is a commercialized company and a subsidiary of Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings Limited.

Tourism

row of chalets

Namibia is among the prime tourist destinations in Africa boasting of a large number of wildlife species found nowhere else in the world. Nearly 20% of employments in the country are directly or indirectly related to the tourism industry. The sector contributes to about 14.5% of the country’s GDP and more than one million tourists flock the country’s national parks and other tourist destinations each year. As a renowned ecotourism destination, Namibia’s economy is heavily reliant on its extensive wildlife.

There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. Sport and trophy hunting is also a large and growing component of the Namibian economy, accounting for 14% of total tourism in the year 2000, or 19.6 million US dollars, with Namibia boasting numerous species sought after by international sport hunters.

Sport hunting and other extreme sports such as skydiving, sandboarding, and off-road driving are extremely popular in Namibian cities. Lodges and hotels have increased to cater to the new emerging interests as well as accommodate tourists from all over the world. Coastal towns such as Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, and Lüderitz generate income from the tourism sector and service industry. This has boosted the local economies as well as improved the standard of living of the locals.

Windhoek plays a very important role in Namibia’s tourism due to its central location and close proximity to Hosea Kutako International Airport.

CULTURE

With just 2.1 persons per square kilometer and a population of 2.3million, Namibia’s different cultures span an impressively diverse population for what is a sparsely populated country. From the Bantu-speaking Ovambo and Herero tribes (the latter of which are admired for their colorful Victorian dress) to the Damara minorities and nomadic San Bushmen, Namibia boasts cultural and historical flavor in spades.

German colonization left its own imprint on this Southern African nation with German being a widely spoken language today and German architecture and cuisine featuring prominently. Namibia’s diverse and, at times, harsh climate contributed to its colorful history with skirmishes, international and national, reflected in much of its modern history.

The vast majority of Namibians (about 80 to 90%) are Christians. Lutheranism is the predominant Christian denomination in the country. About 50% of the population is affiliated to the Lutheran Church. Christian festivals are celebrated throughout the country.

The cuisine of Namibia is influenced by both the cookery practiced by the indigenous inhabitants and that introduced by the Europeans who colonized the country in the past. Millet, sorghum, melons, peanuts, beef, mutton, and dairy products are the subsistence food products in Namibia. Mealie is the staple diet of the people.

English is the official language spoken in Namibia. The most widely understood national language is Afrikaans, the country’s lingua franca. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public communication.

SPORTS

Soccer is highly popular in Namibia. Most children grow up playing the game. Track and field is also a popular sport in the country. Many Namibians run daily chores that demand great physical efforts. Children in rural areas walk or run for long distances daily to reach school.

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Africa

Republic of Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso initially the Republic of Upper Volta was renamed “Burkina Faso’’ meaning “Land of Incorruptible People,” on the 4th of August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. On the 5th of August 1960, the country attained full independence from its subjugators, France, with Maurice Yaméogo as president. Ergo, Burkina Faso is a francophone country, with French as the official language of government and business. But, roughly 40% of its populace speak the Mossi language. Burkinabé are the citizens of Burkina Faso with Ouagadougou as the nation’s capital.

The West African landlocked country was inhabited by immigrants including the Gurma and the Yarse. The latter group has Mande origins but is assimilated into the Mossi and shares their language (called Moore). Other Gur-speaking peoples are the Gurunsi, the Senufo, the Bwa, and the Lobi.

Burkina Faso covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south; Ivory Coast to the southwest. Burkina is a rapidly growing country with an estimated population of 20.32 million in 2019, which makes it the 62nd most populous country in the world.

After independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has been plagued with repeated military coups. 1970s and 1980s coups were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Former President Blaise Compaore (1987-2014) resigned in late October 2014 following popular protests against his efforts to amend the constitution’s two-term presidential limit. These incidents preceded the presidential and legislative elections held in November 2015. Shortly after electing its first new leader, Roch Marc Christian Kabore the attacks began; Burkina Faso has seen more than 230 attacks in just over three years.

The country experienced terrorist attacks in its capital in 2016, 2017 and 2018; It experienced over 100 attacks by violent extremists in the first quarter of 2019 mostly in the northern and eastern regions of the country. Burkina Faso continues to mobilize resources to counter terrorist threats.

The Government of Burkina Faso has made numerous arrests of terrorist suspects and joined the newly-created G5 Sahel Joint Force to fight terrorism and criminal trafficking groups with regional neighbours: Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The ramification of these attacks has been: growing insecurity resulted in more than 100,000 internally displaced persons and 1,300 closed schools.

GOVERNANCE

Burkina Faso is a semi-presidential republic: which simply means that the president serves as the head of state (formally represents the people of the nation), while the Prime Minister is head of the government (the single person who is the leader or “in charge” of the system of creating and executing laws) and practices a  multi-party system (a system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national election, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition).

In the year 2000, the constitution was amended reducing the presidential term from seven to five years. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term (enforced during the 2005 elections) and may serve up to two terms, whereas the prime minister is appointed by the president with the consent of the legislature.

The current president of the republic of Burkina Faso is Roch Marc Christian Kabore who won the November 2015 presidential election, easily beating his main rival.

Though the Constitution is the supreme law in Burkina Faso, it has severally been adopted since their independence in 1960: The first constitutional amendment was on November 27th, 1960, which was for the creation of three branches of government. However, in 1966 this constitution was suspended by President Lamizana, who also dissolved the legislature, and assumed absolute executive and legislative authority. In 1970, the country adopted its constitution for the second time, which dictated the indemnification of all democratic institutions, but after the establishment of a military government in 1974, it was later suspended. In 1977, the third constitution was established, but was soon abolished after a 1980 military coup. The current constitution was adopted in 1991 and was later amended in 2000.

The executive branch of government is made up of the president, the prime minister, and the cabinet. Election of the president is by a popular vote during a democratic general election which takes place after every five years. The executive branch primary function is the implementation of government policies, and being the custodian of the nation’s interests in international matters. With the consent of the legislature, the president is authorized to appoint the prime minister. The executive branch has seen numerous military coups throughout the country’s history, and has had seven heads of government whose era gravely undermined the constitution since gaining independence.

Burkina Faso’s legislative branch of government is a unicameral parliamentary system, in practice. It has 127 national assembly seats whose members are elected in a multi-seat constituency by proportional representation, and serves a five year term. In theory, Burkina Faso under the amended constitution is supposed to have a bicameral parliament made up of the senate (the senate is the upper house of the legislature and was established in 2012 through amendments to the constitution) and the national assembly (the national assembly is the lower chamber of the legislature).

However, the senate is not in existence (The original upper house or Chamber of Representatives was abolished in 2002), and there is only one chamber of national assembly. On November 29th, 2015, the country held its last election, and the next election will be held in 2020. Constitutionally, the Parliament is to vote on the law, consent to taxation, and control the actions of the government under provisions of the constitution.

The Parliament meets each year in two ordinary sessions, each of which may not exceed ninety days. The first session opens on the first Wednesday of March and the second the last Wednesday of September. If either of these days’ land on a holiday, the session opens the next first working day. Each chamber of Parliament meets in extraordinary session on either the request of the President, demand of the Prime Minister, or of an absolute majority of half of the Deputies or Senators on a specific agenda and closes at the completion of said agenda.

The administration of justice, is the primary function of the judiciary. Supreme court of appeals (Cour de Cassation) is the highest judicial office in Burkina Faso, followed by the Council of State, and the Constitutional Council. Other courts including appeal courts, high court, first instance tribunals, the district courts, specialized courts, and customary courts are subordinates.

ECONOMY

A December 2018 report from the World Bank indicates that cotton had become the most important cash crop, while gold exports were increasing in recent years. Burkina Faso is a low-income country with limited natural resources. The economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, with more than 80% of the population relying on subsistence agriculture; only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services.

Following the devaluation of the African franc currency in January 1994, the government updated its development program in conjunction with international agencies, and exports and economic growth have increased. Maintenance of its macroeconomic progress depends on reduction in the trade deficit, reforms designed to encourage private investment and continued low inflation.

Industry is located mostly in Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouagadougou, Banfora, and Koudougou. Increased gold mining, along with cotton, is a leading export money earner. However, both money earners are listed as goods produced mostly by child and forced labor according to a recent U.S. Department of Labor report. Manufacturing is limited to food processing, textiles, and other import substitution heavily protected by tariffs.

Real GDP growth continued at an estimated 7.0% in 2018, compared with 6.7% in 2017. Key contributors were food agriculture (up 14.2% in 2018), extractive industry (20.5%), and cotton ginning (8.0%). Final consumption was the main component of domestic demand. The tax burden rose to approximately 18.0% of GDP in 2018 from 16.5% in 2017, while total outstanding public debt declined from 36.6% of GDP to 33.4%. Inflation increased to an estimated 1.4% in 2018, reflecting higher food prices. The current account deficit improved to an estimated 7.2% of GDP in 2018 from 7.6% in 2017.  

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture contributes highly to the economy of Burkina Faso. The sector is dominated by small-scale farms of less than 5 hectares and its main products are sorghum, millet and maize (the most produced in terms of volume), and cotton (the most important in terms of value).  In 2004 Production figures for principal subsistence crops were sorghum, 1,481,000 tons; millet, 881,000 tons; corn, 595,000 tons; and rice, 95,000 tons.

Commercial crops (with 2004 production figures) included cottonseed (315,000 tons), groundnuts (321,000 tons), cotton fibre (210,000 tons), and sesame (29,000 tons). Other crops are cassava, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, and tobacco. Sugarcane has been introduced on a large scale and is becoming an important cash crop; 450,000 tons. In 2012, agriculture contributed to about 30 percent of the GDP, employing over 90 percent of the workforce. Before the gold mining boom, cotton was the main commodity exported, accounting for about 60 percent of export revenues. However, Burkina Faso is still the leading cotton producer and exporter in Africa.

Burkina Faso experiences low and variable rainfalls, land degradation, deforestation and desertification. In spite all these, in 2018, cereal production was estimated at 5.1 million tonnes, 16 percent above the last five‑year average and about 27 percent above the previous year’s poor output. Major year‑on‑year production increases, over 40 percent, have been registered for millet and sorghum.

Despite a decade of sustained growth and improvements in the agriculture sector resulting in the reduction of the threat of recurring famine, food insecurity and malnutrition rates are chronically high. More than 3.5 million people, roughly 20 percent of the population, are food insecure; poverty persists, particularly in rural areas. The number of people undernourished rose from 3.8 million in 2008-10 to 4.4 million in 2011-13, corresponding to nearly a quarter of the total population.

INDUSTRY

The industrial sector in Burkina Faso is poorly developed. Unfortunately, most of the industries are owned by the government, which is ineffective. Consequently, they are largely unprofitable. Burkina Faso’s industrial sector are manufacturing, mining, and construction. There are a few industries in Burkina Faso although the largest is arguably mining, which plays a major role in the economy especially gold mining. Burkinabe industry reflects an interesting diversity, but is dominated by unprofitable state-controlled corporations.

Manufacturing

Aside cotton and gold processing, other important sectors are food processing, textiles, and leather, though on a small-scale, cigarettes, bricks, and light metal goods such as beds and agricultural implements are being manufactured. Other enterprises are the brewery and ‘moped’ bikes and bicycle assembly plants.

Mining

Burkina Faso has large unexploited mineral deposits, as one-fourth of its land is comprised of sedimentary formations from volcanoes. In 2011 alone, gold earned the country about $247 million. Between 2007 and 2011, gold exports brought in a massive $747 million, which was about 64.7% of all the exports in that time and 8% of the nation’s GDP. In 2018, Burkina Faso was the fifth-largest gold producer in Africa. Aside gold, there is mining of copper, iron, cassiterite (tin ore), manganese minerals produced include cement, marble, phosphate rock, salt, pumice, volcanic rock, dolomite, zinc, and others; which according to Oumarou Idani (minister of mines and quarries of Burkina Faso) have huge potential.

Construction

Construction has increased as a result of international and government based infrastructure development schemes. Road building and the provision of water supplies are major government priorities and provide a further stimulus to construction.

SERVICE

The services sector consists mainly of wholesale and retail distribution, telecommunications, posts, transport, hotels and restaurants, repairs, financial services, tourist services, and government administration. For the most part, the service sector responds to the general growth of the economy. The size of the distribution sector has remained constant at around 12 percent of the GDP, and the transport and communications sectors have likewise remained constant at 10 percent.

FINANCE

The finance sector is dominated by the banking industry although it is extremely concentrated. At least 90% of the country’s financial system is controlled by banks. There are 11 banks and 5 other financial institutions. Overall, however, banks play an important role in the economy as they contribute about 30% of Burkina Faso’s GDP. The banks have sufficient operating capital although they remain at the mercy of fluctuating cotton prices.

Banking

The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) is the common central bank of the 8 member states which form the West African Economic and the Monitoring union (WAEM). This is the official Central Bank of Burkina Faso.

Burkinabe banking sector is composed of 11 banks and 5 other financial institutions. A network of microfinance institutions and credit unions has also grown rapidly. Banks play an important role in the economy as they contribute about 30% of Burkina Faso’s GDP. The list of commercial banks in Burkina Faso includes: Bank of Africa, Banque Atlantique Burkina Faso, Banque de l’Habitat du Burkina Faso, Banque Régionale de Solidarité, Société Générale de Banques au Burkina (SG-BB)   .Banque Internationale du Burkina (BIB), Banque Sahélo-Saharienne pour l’Investissement et le Commerce (BSIC). Banque Internationale pour le Commerce, l’Industire et l’Agriculture du Burkina, Banque Commerciale du Burkina. Ecobank Burkina, Banque Agricole et Commerciale du Burkina, United Bank for Africaand Coris Bank.  These banks have sufficient operating capital although they remain at the mercy of fluctuating cotton prices.

Transportation

Transport in Burkina Faso is limited by relatively underdeveloped infrastructure. Road, railways and airport are the major means of transportation. Burkina Faso is a natural geographic transportation hub for West Africa.

Railways in Burkina Faso consists of a single line which runs from Kaya to Abidjan in Ivory Coast. All of the railways in the country are of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge. There are 622 kilometres of railway in Burkina Faso, of which 517 km run from Ouagadougou to Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and 105 km from Ouagadougou to Kaya. As of June 2014 Sitarail operates a passenger train three times a week along the route from Ouagadougou to Abidjan via Banfora, Bobo-Dioulasso and Koudougou.

There are international airports at Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso and numerous smaller airfields. Ouagadougou airport handles about 98% percent of all scheduled commercial air traffic in Burkina Faso. Air Burkina (Air Burkina and Air France handle about 60% of all scheduled passenger traffic), which started in 1967, is government-run and has a monopoly on domestic service but also flies to neighbouring countries. Burkina Faso owns part of Air Afrique, which provides the country with international service. By June 2014, Ouagadougou Airport, had regularly scheduled flights to many destinations in West Africa, Paris, Brussels and Istanbul.

Only a few of Burkina Faso main roads are partially paved, and even the paved roads are plagued by dangerous potholes, missing signage, missing barriers and guardrails near roadside hazards, and no pavement markings to separate traffic moving in opposite directions. 58% of firms in Burkina Faso identified roads as major business constraint, maintenance and rehabilitation needs of the main road network are said to be underfunded. Nevertheless, in 2011, the country’s road infrastructure was rated by the World Bank to be in relatively good condition and that the country was a regional hub with paved roads linking the country to Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Niger. Taxis are the best way to get around cities in Burkina Faso, and cabs are abundant in many areas but prepare to share a ride with strangers.

Telecommunication

Radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet are the major telecommunications in Burkina Faso. Use of telecommunications in Burkina Faso are extremely low, limited due to the low penetration of electricity, even in major cities. There were just 141,400 fixed line phones in use in 2012, in a country with a population of 17.4 million. None the less, radio is the country’s dominant medium.

There are dozens of private and community radio stations. As of 2018, 2 AM, 26 FM, and 3 shortwave stations; state-owned radio runs a national and regional network; substantial number of privately owned radio stations, transmissions of several international broadcasters available in Ouagadougou.

In the year 2007, Burkina Faso had 1 state-owned and 1 privately owned TV stations. Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press. The Superior Council of Communication (SCC), a semiautonomous body under the Office of the President, monitors the content of radio and television programs to ensure compliance with professional ethics standards and government policy (which includes alleged libel, disturbing the peace, inciting violence, or violations of state security the prohibition against insulting the head of state, the law also prohibits the publication of shocking images and lack of respect for the deceased). If any of their rules are violated, the SCC may summon journalists and issue warnings for subsequent violations. Some journalists occasionally face criminal libel prosecutions and other forms of harassment and intimidation.

Burkina Faso’s ancient oral tradition and talking drum culture have harmonized well the introduction of mobile phone technologies. From 1998 to 2012, mobile phone usage has sky rocketed from 2,700 subscribers to 10.0 million. Mobile phone users utilize “flashing” which allows extremely low-cost operations.

Internet use is low, because of the high costs for Internet capable mobile phones (more than six times the cost of a basic mobile phone) and mobile Internet subscriptions (up to seven times the cost for basic mobile) has limited the number of Internet users. Also, Internet market is not sufficiently dynamic and competitive, but the sector began to improve following installation of a 22 Mbit/s fibre optic international link, a vast improvement over the previous 128 kbit/s link. Secondary access nodes began to appear in major cities, and cybercafés were providing Internet access to a broader spectrum of end users. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet; but like radio and TV, the Superior Council of Communication (SCC) monitors Internet Web sites and discussion forums to ensure compliance with existing regulations.

Tourism

In 2017, Burkina Faso recorded a total of 143,000 tourists, ranking 174th in the world. From the year 2000 to 2016 tourism revenue increased from: 23.00 million USD, or about 0.87% of the GNP which corresponded to about 126,000 tourists at that time and roughly 183 USD per person to 172.00 million USD, accounting for 1.6% of the GNP with each visitor now spending an average of 1,132 USD for his holiday in Burkina Faso. 

Some tourist sites in Ouagadougou are the Park of Bangr Weogo, the National museum of Ouagadougou; Banfora sites include the Natural Waterfall of Banfora, Lake Tengrela, and the Peaks of Sindou. The eastern part of Burkina Faso, has Arli National Park, W National Park, and the cliffs of Gobnangou all in Diapaga. Not forgetting Djibo’s Archaeological Museum of Pobé Mengao and the stone carvings of Pobé Mengao.

CULTURE

Literature in Burkina Faso is based on the oral tradition, which continued to have an influence on Burkinabè writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published. Traditional ritual ceremonies of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso have long involved dancing with masks. Burkina Faso theatre is heavily influenced by French theatre. After independence came a new style of theatre, inspired by forum theatre aimed at educating and entertaining Burkina Faso’s rural people.

Much of the crafts produced are for the country’s growing tourist industry. There is a large artist community in Burkina Faso, especially in Ouagadougou, aside its rich traditional artistic heritages among the people. Burkina also host one of the most important African handicraft fairs known by its French name as SIAO: Le Salon International de l’ Artisanat de Ouagadougou.

Burkinabe cuisine is based on staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra; chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish are the most common sources of animal protein. And a typical Burkinabè beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, Zoom-kom, or “grain water”; in some rural regions there is Dolo, which is drink made from fermented millet.

SPORTS

Football is a very popular sport in Burkina Faso, played both professionally, and for pleasure. The national team is nicknamed “Les Etalons” (“the Stallions”) in reference to the legendary horse of Princess Yennenga. Basketball, cycling, rugby union, handball, tennis, boxing and martial arts are also popular in Burkina Faso.

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