ECONOMY: GENERAL INFORMATION
As a country located in Africa according to Searchforpublicschools, Burkina Faso was included by the UN among the 25 poorest states in the world. The country’s economic development is hampered primarily by the climate, characterized by alternating dry and wet seasons; recurrent are then the periods of drought, especially in the north-central area of the state; finally, it is hampered by the irregular flow of watercourses which alternate dry periods during the winter with abundant floods in the summer. These factors make the country economically dependent on archaic agriculture and nomadic pastoralism, which are not even able to cover the food needs of a population too large for the very scarce local resources and whose standard of living is considerably below. of the same African average levels. Far from the sea and insufficiently connected even by land with the neighboring states, almost entirely included in a climatic zone too arid to allow profitable plantation agriculture, Burkina Faso did not experience any relevant initiative in colonial times; only the cultivation of peanuts was started and, as in all of Sudanese Africa, that of cotton. Once independence (1960), Burkina Faso concentrated on improving the structure of the economic base, strengthening infrastructure, rationalizing the exploitation of mineral resources, reorganizing the primary sector, stabilizing the prices of basic necessities. With the 1983 coup d’etat, state intervention in the economy became more pronounced: through investments, especially in the agricultural sector, efforts were made to achieve food self-sufficiency, infrastructures were built (in particular manufacturing industries) and the construction of dams began. Despite this, the country was structurally weak in the early 2000s: GDP was US $ 8,105 million in 2009 and that per capita of US $ 564. Burkina Faso is heavily dependent on imports, foreign financing and remittances from emigrants.
ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
Primary activities occupy the absolute majority of the active population (approx. 87%), although their contribution to the creation of GDP is decreasing (2007). The main food crops are those of millet and sorghum which, thanks to their short vegetative cycle, are able to grow even in drought areas with only one period of rain per year. In the wettest areas corn, cassava and sweet potato are also grown, while in the areas where irrigation works have been carried out, rice cultivation has been extended. The plantation crops are cotton, widely spread, thanks to irrigation, in the savannah belt and which is the most important commodity sold abroad, followed by peanuts. Shea is also grown, whose nuts are exported, sesame, sugar cane, tobacco, various first vegetables. § Forests, due to over-exploitation in the past, are now heavily degraded (the government has started reforestation of large areas, however). § The breeding practiced, especially by the Fulbe semi-nomads, in the northern regions (but is also expanding in the western regions), occupies a preponderant place in the country’s economy, as it feeds, after cotton, the main export current. The country has a significant livestock heritage, especially as regards goats, cattle and sheep; unfortunately only the cattle sector has been started towards modernization, for the rest the breeding is practiced with the wild method by nomadic shepherds, and therefore suffers from the lack of good pastures, due to long periods of drought. § A notable contribution to the food of the population comes from fishing, practiced in the Volta and its tributaries.
ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
Industrial activities remain very limited and employ only 3% (2006) of the workforce; they are based on small and very small production units that transform local raw materials and operate in the food and textile sectors, practically working exclusively for the internal market. The plants in operation therefore concern the treatment and processing of agricultural products, the ginning and weaving of cotton, as well as shoe factories, breweries, cigarette and sugar factories. § A certain mining potential is not lacking, but the inadequacy of communication routes discourages an adequate exploitation not supported even by the remoteness of international markets. The greatest interest is currently focused on manganes deposits, gold minerals and partly on anitimonium, zinc and phosphates.
ECONOMY: TRADE AND COMMUNICATIONS
The trade balance shows a substantial deficit. The low level of consumption does not allow for further containment of imports and the country is heavily dependent on international aid. Commercial exchanges take place mainly with France and with the Ivory Coast; exports are represented by cotton, livestock products (live cattle, hides and skins), shea nuts, sesame, peanuts, first vegetables, while imports concern fuels, machinery and means of transport, food and industrial products. § The ways of communication are totally inadequate. The road network develops for approx. 12,506 km, however, only a quarter practicable all year round, and spreads out from the capital to the neighboring states; there is also a single railway line that connects Ouagadougou with Bobo-Dioulasso continuing in the territory of the Ivory Coast up to the port of Abidjan: it is a typical example of a penetration railway, thanks to which Burkina Faso has a direct outlet to the sea. The country can also count on the two international airports of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.