Republic of Burkina Faso

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Burkina Faso experiences low and variable rainfalls, land degradation, deforestation, and desertification. In spite of 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

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Aside from 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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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