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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

In recent years, Burkina Faso experienced strong economic growth, driven by gold and cotton production. However, the coronavirus crisis and then political and security issues negatively impacted this dynamic. After recovering from the pandemic in 2021 (reaching 6.9%), GDP growth slowed down to 2.5% in 2022 due to political uncertainty and deteriorating security conditions (IMF revised estimates). A rebound is expected in 2023 (4.8%) and 2024 (5.2%) with the opening of new mines and efforts to improve security conditions (IMF).

In 2022, the economic recovery was interrupted by two military coups, justified by its perpetrators by the government's inability to contain the jihadist insurgency. In addition, rising food prices as a result of the war in Ukraine worsened the food crisis and weighed on the budget. Inflation increased from 3.9% in 2021 to 14.2% in 2022, and it is expected to fall to 1.5% in 2023 and 1% in 2024 due to declining global oil and food prices (IMF). High current transfers and investment in security-related equipment have contributed to the widening of the fiscal deficit from 7.5% GDP in 2021 to 10.3% GDP in 2022 (IMF). Overall fiscal deficit is expected to remain large in 2023 (around 8% GDP), due to elevated security spending and subsidies (IMF). The deficit will be financed by bilateral and multilateral loans, international grants and recourse to the regional bond market (Coface). Public debt increased from 52.4% GDP in 2021 to 59.6% GDP in 2022, and is expected to decrease marginally to 59.3% GDP in 2023 and 58.5% GDP in 2024 (IMF). The 2023 budget is mainly focused on strengthening security, through the deployment of 3,000 additional soldiers and the purchase of new military equipment (Coface) ; and addressing the substantial social needs related to the humanitarian crisis. In February 2023, IMF staff and the Burkinabé authorities have reached a staff-level agreement for about USD 80 million in emergency financing through the IMF’s Food Shock Window of the Rapid Credit Facility. This agreement will help support measures to provide urgent assistance to households in acute food insecurity conditions (IMF). Besides, the National plan for economic and social development is channelling public investments in road infrastructures and construction. Burkina Faso's economy is hampered by its faulty infrastructure, including electrical infrastructure. The country is also vulnerable to the volatility of oil import prices as well as gold and cotton prices. In the medium term, the country will have to modernize its public affairs management, readjust public finances, reform the financial system and improve the business climate. Burkina Faso is considered to have a high risk of over-indebtedness, as it is extremely dependent on foreign aid.

According to the World Bank, more than 40% of the population still lives below the poverty line of USD 1.25 a day. In recent years, the country has made considerable progress in the area of education. Nevertheless, insecurity and terrorism are taking a heavy toll in several regions of the country, negatively affecting the education sector. More than 1.5 million persons have been internally displaced, 2.6 million people are in acute food insecurity and by May 2022, more than 16% of educational institutions were closed because of the insecure environment (World Bank, IMF). In 2021, the unemployment rate in the country was at 5.2% (ILO estimate).

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 18.9320.7922.9224.8526.82
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.54.46.46.05.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 8328889521,0051,054
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 58.361.261.261.460.9
Inflation Rate (%) n/a1.43.02.02.0
Current Account (billions USD) -1.17-1.06-1.18-1.20-1.21
Current Account (in % of GDP) -6.2-5.1-5.2-4.8-4.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by La Coface.

 

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Main Sectors of Industry

The economy of Burkina Faso is mainly based on agriculture, but the country is Africa's 5th largest producer of gold. The agricultural sector accounted for an estimated 17.5% of Burkina Faso’s GDP in 2021. About 26% of the population is engaged in subsistence farming and cotton is the main cash crop (World Bank). Other cash crops are groundnuts, shea nuts and sesame. Staple crops are pearl millet, sorghum, maize, and rice.

The industrial sector is dominated by State-owned corporations, and contributed to 32% of GDP in 2021. It employs 25% of the total workforce of the country (World Bank). Gold accounts for 77% of the country’s total exports (Comtrade), thus making Burkina Faso really sensitive to the fluctuations in the price of this commodity.

The services sector accounted 42.1% of the GDP in 2021, and employed 49% of the total workforce - almost 30% of these jobs were generated in the financial system. The banking sector – which is very dense, with the three largest banks holding almost 60% of total financial sector assets, is one of the economy’s pillars.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 73.3 7.1 19.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 20.4 29.3 40.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) 8.5 -5.5 5.3

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 593.01582.09555.72585.90575.59

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Foreign Trade

Burkina Faso is open to foreign trade which represents 59% of the country’s GDP (World bank, latest available data). As part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Burkina Faso has regulated its tariff structure. Goods produced in the Union are exempt from import tax. While customs duties (apart from oil) have been reduced from 200% to 43.8% (WTO), they continue to account for around 13% of total tax revenue (World Bank). However, internal and external crisis (in neighboring Mali), as well as the actions of radical groups in the Sahel, have had a negative impact on trade and the industrial outlook. The future railway linking Burkina Faso and Ghana is expected to strengthen trade between the two countries.

Gold is the greatest export (77.4% of its total exports). Burkina Faso is one of the largest exporters of cotton in West Africa, and its production of cotton has quadrupled in the past ten years. However, the commodity has seen its share in the exports decrease from 15.8% of total exports in 2016 to 9% in 2021 (Comtrade). The country’s main imports are petroleum oils (22.8%), vehicles (4.4%), drugs (4.2%), cement (4%), electrical energy (3.1%), and petroleum gas (2.5%). Burkina Faso mainly exports to Switzerland (72.7%), India (9.6%), Singapore (3.8%), Ivory Coast (3.6%), and Mali (1.6%); while imports come chiefly from China (13.9%), Ivory Coast (8.5%), France (7.8%), the USA (6.9%) and Ghana (5.9%) (Comtrade).

Burkina Faso’s trade balance is structurally negative, but trade deficit has been decreasing gradually over the past years due to increased gold and cotton exports and lower imports. The balance of trade turned positive during the pandemic due to reduced imports. According to WTO data, in 2021 exports of goods rose to USD 5.04 billion, while imports of goods increased to USD 4.61 billion. Services exports generated USD 573 million while services imports cost the country USD 1.51 billion (WTO). In 2022, trade deficit amounted to FCFA 640.4 billion (INSD).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,3014,2844,1264,6145,504
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,2543,2394,3725,0434,518
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,5031,4611,2621,4161,582
Exports of Services (million USD) 557540509556495

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 59.360.658.7n/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -52903661,3301,259
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -898-656-555577399
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10.18.58.6n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.515.2-1.9n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.832.531.0n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.528.127.6n/an/a

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 0.54.22.62.64.6
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 4.05.64.74.74.1

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Burkina Faso is a member of WTO since 1995. The country is also a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Switzerland 68.8%
Mali 6.7%
United Arab Emirates 4.3%
Singapore 3.8%
Ivory Coast 3.7%
See More Countries 12.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 12.9%
Ivory Coast 10.6%
France 9.3%
India 6.3%
Ghana 5.5%
See More Countries 55.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President (interim): Ibrahim Traoré (since the military coup of 30 September 2022)
Prime Minister: Apollinaire J. Kyélem de Tambèla (since 21 October 2022)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2024
National Assembly: 2024
Main Political Parties
The main political parties in Burkina Faso are:
ADF/RDA (Alliance pour la démocratie et la fédération/Rassemblement démocratique africain) - liberal
CDP (Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès) - left-wing; it is the party of the ex-president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
CPD (Parti pour le développement et le changement)
Le Faso autrement - center/liberal
Executive Power
The executive power is vested in the President, who is the Head of State and embodies and ensures national unity. The President is the guarantor of the constitution, national independence, integrity of the national territory, state continuity, and respect for international agreements (art. 36 of the constitution). The President is elected for 5 years and can be re-elected only once (art 37). He/She nominates the Prime Minister, who is then approved by the Parliament.
Legislative Power
The legislative power is attributed to the National Assembly (“Assemblée nationale”), whose members are elected through direct universal suffrage (art 80) for a five-year term (art 81).
 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Burkina Faso, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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