Burkina Faso Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

There are good mineral resources in Burkina Faso, but only a small part of them is mined. The most important for the economy is the gold, which since 2009 is the country’s most important export product.

After a fall in production in the late 1990s, bolstered by a fall in gold prices, recovery took off again after the turn of the millennium. The mining sector is liberalized and a number of foreign companies have invested in the country. Several new mines were opened in the 2000s and production has increased rapidly. In 2013, nine mines accounted for 90 percent of gold mining. In 2017, they had increased to 13.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Burkina Faso with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

At the same time, there has also been an upswing in craft gold extraction, which is estimated to account for 10 to 20 percent of the gold mined in the country. But it is possible that the proportion is even higher as some of the gold is probably smuggled out to neighboring countries.

The increasing violence in especially the northern part of the country has led to a tightening of security around the mines. In the fall of 2019, however, an attack was made on workers at the Canadian mining company Semafo, where at least 37 people were killed (see Calendar).

  • Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, BF stands for Burkina Faso. Visit itypeusa for more information about Burkina Faso.

Otherwise, zinc is the only mineral of greater commercial value. Manganese and limestone are mined on a smaller scale, but the mining industry is in need of better infrastructure, mainly roads, to be able to develop. The lack of security is another obstacle to an expansion of mining operations. Most of the manganese assets are in an area where jihadist groups are active. Reserves are also available of phosphate, silver, lead, bauxite, copper and nickel.

Most of the energy consumed in the country comes from firewood. The electricity comes largely from oil-fired thermal power plants but also from hydropower. The electricity grid is under development, and both the capital Ouagadougou and the country’s second largest city Bobo-Dioulasso have been connected to the Ivory Coast’s electricity grid. There are plans for a similar connection to the Ghanaian network. But Burkina Faso suffers from severe electricity supply shortages and repeated power cuts are a major obstacle to economic development. In 2017, 66 percent of city residents had access to electricity, but only 3 percent of the rural population. The Government aims to have at least 45 per cent of Burkinians have access to electricity from 2020. Extensions are being made, among other things, with the support of money from the World Bank. Electricity prices are higher in Burkina Faso than in most of the neighboring countries.

In autumn 2017, the largest solar power plant in Zagtouli was opened just outside Ouagadougou. The power plant has been built using money from the EU and France. There is also an investment in smaller solar power plants to supply the countryside with electricity.

Burkina Faso has major problems with soil degradation due to the hunt for wood, which reduces forest area. The livestock herds also struggle hard on the ground. Tree planting projects have slowed down the destruction to some extent.


Carbon dioxide emissions in total

2 849 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

0.2 ton (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

74.2 percent (2015)



Kaboré takes over as president

December 29

Kaboré takes over as president. The next day, another former close employee of Compaoré, Salif Diallo, is elected President of the National Assembly.

International arrest warrant against Compaoré

A court is issuing an international arrest warrant against Compaoré, who is living in a country escape in Ivory Coast.

Prosecution in the Zongo murder

Three soldiers are charged with the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo (see Mass Media). The murder has emerged as a symbol of oppression during the Compajoré regime.

Diendéré is indicted for the Sankara murder

The coup-maker General Gilbert Diendéré is indicted for participation in the assassination of President Sankara in 1987.


Election victory for Kaboré and MPP

November 29th

Today’s president and parliament are described as the first election in half a century where the results are not obvious in advance. 14 candidates are vying for the presidential post. Winner makes former Prime Minister Roch Marc Christian Kaboré , of the People’s Progress Movement (MPP) , with 53.5 percent of the vote, while Zéphirin Diabré of the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) wins almost 30 percent. The turnout is 60 percent. The MPP also wins the parliamentary elections with 55 seats against 33 for the UPC and 18 seats for the Democracy and Progress Congress (CDP). Another eleven parties joined the National Assembly. During his years as close associates of Compaoré, Kaboré was, among others, the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly. He becomes the first civilian president of Burkina Faso in almost half a century. Kaboré says in his victory speech that his most important task will be to speed up the country’s economy in order to meet the basic needs of the inhabitants. MPP must be supported by at least nine members in order to form a coalition government.

Constitutional change: the president may only be re-elected once

November 6

An almost unanimous National Assembly votes to limit future presidential power holdings to a maximum of two terms of office each of five years. In addition, the law is written into the constitution with the proviso that it cannot be changed under any circumstances.


Bullet holes in what is believed to be Sankara’s remains

The remains dug out of Thomas Sankara’s tomb are full of bullet holes, according to the lawyer representing the murdered president’s family (see May 2015). As yet, no results have come from DNA samples that can confirm that it was really Sankara who was lying in the grave.

The coup leader surrenders

After a few days in flight, Diendéré surrenders to the authorities and is taken into custody. He says he sought protection from the Vatican’s ambassador shortly before the army attacked the coup makers. Diendéré will be prosecuted later. The crime classification includes murder and threats to the security of the state. Former Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassolé, who denies any involvement in the coup attempt, is also prosecuted.


The army is believed to have defeated the coup makers

The government accuses the presidential guard of refusing to be disarmed and of taking army soldiers hostage. The army is attacking the coup makers’ position and seems to strike the last resistance. Diendéré is said to have disappeared when the army soldiers enter the facility. From an unknown place, he says that many people may have been killed in the army attack. Many soldiers must have had their families with them in the facility.

The Presidential Guard is dissolved

The interim government decides to dissolve the presidential guard. The Prosecutor’s Office blocks the financial assets of 14 of the participants in the coup attempt, including the leader Diendéré. Four parties linked to Compaoré also have their assets frozen.

The coup makers give up

Faced with pressure from the public and neighboring governments, and facing the threat of clashes, the coup leaders agree to return power to the lawful transitional government. The Presidential Guard retreats to its location in Ouagadougou, while the regular army forces agree to move five miles outside the city. President Kafando appears in public and confirms that the civilian government has taken over. Six West African neighboring presidents head to Burkina Faso to monitor the return to legal rule.

Stance war between army factions

Coup soldiers retain control of the presidential palace, while government loyal soldiers who have come to Ouagadougou occupy most other strategic places and buildings in the city.

Soldiers march towards the capital

The mediator’s proposals are met by protests in Ouagadougou and from military posts around the country, soldiers are loyal to the legal government of the capital. The coup leader Diendéré is said to be prepared to return power but wants to await the outcome of a regional summit on the coup. Zida is released, and Kafando, who has been in house arrest, seeks protection at the home of the French ambassador.

Ecowas takes a soft line against the coup maker and Compaoré’s followers

The mediators from Ecowas suggest that the legal leaders be reinstated and that the coup makers should not be punished. It is proposed that elections can be held by November 22 and politicians loyal to Compaoré are proposed to participate. The future of the Presidential Guard should allow newly elected leaders to decide on Ecowas.

AU faces sanctions against the coup leaders

The African Union (AU) issues sanctions against the coup leaders. They are prohibited from traveling to other Member States and any financial assets abroad are blocked.

The military releases Kafando

The AU demands that the junta immediately return power to the provisional government. Senegal President Macky Sall and Benin President Boni Yayi head to Ouagadougou to try to mediate on behalf of Ecowas. This leads to the military releasing Acting President Kafando.

The President challenges the junta

Provisional Parliament Speaker Moumina Sheriff Sy says he is the country’s rightful president as long as Kafando is being held in custody. He urged the majority of the country’s military to strike down the coup, which he said was carried out by a small group of officers.

The military is pushing the boundaries

A close ally of Compaoré, the military intelligence service’s former chief general Gilbert Diendéré, is said to be leading the military junta. About 10 civilians are reported to have been shot dead during a demonstration in Ouagadougou against the military’s takeover of power. The military junta says the country’s borders have been closed.

The Presidential Guard is making coup attempts

A National Reconciliation and Reform Commission recommends the dissolution of the Presidential Guard (1,200 men) as it interferes with the work of the Provisional Government. A day later, the presidential guard seizes the acting president Kafando, the acting prime minister Zida and two ministers. The military declares Kafando deposed and the provisional government dissolved. A spokesman says a “national democracy council” has been formed to conduct general elections in the long run. The coup is condemned by a united world.


Court decides: CDP politicians may not participate in parliamentary elections

The Constitutional Court finds that Burkina Law has precedence before the ruling by Ecowas (see July 2015) and excludes some 40 people in the Compaoré district from participating in the parliamentary elections on 11 October.


More accurate pay checks should save you money

The government cancels payroll payments to over 1,200 public employees who are unlikely to exist. Another 200 suspected cheaters’ wages are frozen. Since May, the state only pays wages to those who personally apply to claim pay and who have a public service. The state is believed to save almost one percent of public wage costs through its more rigorous control.

CDP members are allowed to run for office

A regional court and the co-operating organization Ecowas void the April 2015 law that prohibits supporters of President Compaoré from running for election. The Abuja Court declares that the law contravenes the principle that everyone should participate in elections. The judgment cannot be appealed.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) grants loans

Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast jointly borrow $ 100 million to modernize and simplify trade between the two neighboring countries. This is the first time that the IMF supports a regional project of this kind.


The CDP is not allowed to stand in the elections

Parliament adopts a law that effectively excludes all members of the CDP from running in the 2015 elections.


Sankara’s grave should be opened

The government decides to open the tomb of former President Thomas Sankara to determine that it is the dust of the revolutionary hero that rests there. Ever since Sankara was killed during a coup in 1997 (see Modern History), there has been doubt that the tomb contains his remains.


Protests against the presidential guard

Several thousand people are demonstrating in Ouagadougou demanding that the presidential guard, which was built up by the deposed head of state Compaoré, be dissolved. The protesters accuse the guard of trying to interfere in the ongoing transition to democracy.


Elections are scheduled for October

The government announces that presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on October 11.

MPs cut their salaries in half

The 90 members of the Provisional Parliament are voting to cut their salaries by half, following a debate in social media about parliamentarians’ salaries and benefits. One MP earns up to SEK 25,000 per month, which is about 20 times more than an average salary in the country.

Burkina Faso Energy and Environment Facts

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