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close this bookThe Courier N 126 - March - April 1991 - Dossier: AIDS - The Big Threat / Country Report: Burkina Faso (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)
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‘Develop the economy’, says the Popular Front

All was quiet in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, at the end of 1990, as it no doubt was all over the land. Since ‘Rectification’, as they call the revolution of 15 October 1987, the Burkinabave gradually been learning to live once more at the natural pace of the Sahelians, that slower but more majestic pace of a river flowing across flat country. Most of the slogans of the revolution are still in evidence of course, wishing you welcome, bidding you farewell and reminding you as-ever, of Burkina’s basic political option- revolution. The population, or, to be more precise, ‘the people’, in the name of whom everything is done, watch the changes in the nation’s particularly eventful political life, in which they rarely take any direct part, almost from a distance.

The Burkinabormerly Voltaic- people were always conciliating and of course still are and, from the first attempts at pluralist democracy in the 1970s to the revolution of 1983 and the ‘Rectification’ of today, they have withstood sharp shocks with great resilience and without becoming resigned. The Sankara revolution, as the rme of Blaise Compaor146;s former companion-in-arms is known in Ouagadougou, which set out to liberate Burkina from colonialism and neo-colonialism and give every citizen ‘progress in freedom’, ended on 15 October 19X7 in a bloodbath, to the great surprise of neither the Burkinabor the foreign observers of African political life.

The shattered dreams of the ‘Silmimoga’ captain

The illusions that came with independence were soon to be replaced by the long-lived dreams of the distant philosophies which had served as the main props of socio-political movements in Europe. The dream of Sankara, the young Silmimoga captain from the Burkinabrmy, was the product of two-internal and external-pressures. The former Head of State, as a Silmimoga, was said to be hampered by the Mossi image of the Peuls, from whom he was descended, as servants; this image was worsened by the tacit alliance which the colonials always forged with one section of the population (in Burkina with the Mossi) to the detriment of another section. This, they say in Ouagadougou, gave Thomas Sankara problems.

But there is also the fact that he kept Burkinabociety itself at a distance, failing, for example, to defer to the traditional chieftains as he might have done, especially when they talked to him with their heads covered. The treatment his People’s Revolutionary Tribunals meted out to civil servants accused of embezzling public monies amounted to virtual humiliation for some of the people they judged. One so-called prosecutor, for example, asked a polygamist who had stolen public funds if he had ‘two sex organs to cope with two wives’. ‘To us, as Africans, this was beyond understanding and an insult coming from a rme that claimed to be a people’s movement’, recounted a middle-aged man, visibly embarrassed-particularly telling since, like many Burkinabhe was neither anti-Sankara nor especially pro-CompaorAnd the sport for the masses which the whole population was expected to join in once a week ultimately created a real gap between the people and Sankara, who was said to be the indirect cause of miscarriages when women were ‘forced to do what the President said’. These apparently anodyne anecdotes show just how serious the widening gap in relations between the former President and his people was.

Sankara also liked to go in for symbolic acts of a spectacular kind-ordering small cars with no air conditioning for the Ministers, for example. And he was fond of words, to the point of courting the risk, some say, of putting the way they sounded before the truth.

‘The dear departed’, as he is still called, was so taken up with his image abroad that he was blind to the deteriorating situation at home, they say in Ouagadougou, and ‘the people had long been bewildered by a whole series of incoherent reforms of doubtful usefulness’ which did more harm than good when it came to solving everyday problems. But in the absence of any opposition or any measure of public opinion, he was ill-placed to sense the people’s chronic weariness which might have led him to decree a period of respite in the process of reform. He determinedly pursued his revolutionary dream when his doctrinal references across the world were running out of steam and the whole thing foundered on a number of national and international economic and social values and constraints on 15 October 1987, leaving the way clear for Rectification under Captain Blaise Compaorhis former companion-in-arms.

Reliable sources suggest that Captain Sankara was preparing for a period of ideological moderation shortly before his tragic end, but his time ran out. ‘When tension is extreme, problems get worse, complaints increase and explosions happen’, they say in Ouagadougou to explain the sordid outcome of a man who was genuinely liked and admired by young people beyond his frontiers.

Getting the economy: off the ground again

President Compaoraid that the idea of Rectification is to give the revolution proper economic and social meaning, as defined in Sankara’s famous Political Policy Speech of 1983. The ‘biggest mistake’ of the CNR (the Government) was to give the economy the sort of design and practices which ‘ignore the law of supply and demand’, so the People’s Front (the executive), which replaced it in 1987, is anxious to ‘get the economy off the ground again with a series of technical and psychological incentives to regenerate confidence in the operators’. The national economy, which was particularly badly handicapped by drought and the ‘hesitancy and improvisation’ of the Sankara decisions, the authorities now say, should be taking off again soon, thanks to structural reform, better targeting of public and private investment and a bigger effort with the building of the communications infrastructure

On the production front, agriculture should continue to be the main basis for growth-in spite of a 2 % decline which began in 1988 after the positive 1985-87 period when GDP expanded by 7 % thanks mainly to farm produce and (to a lesser extent) manufactures and mining products (see profile).

When it comes to communications infrastructure, the Yako-Ouahigouya road should facilitate a number of agricultural and livestock development, including 500 ha on the Sourou plain north-west of Ouagadougou and 300 ha of lowland rice fields, plus the sinking of wells to supply water and encourage people to settle in rural areas. This infrastructure, much of it financed by the European Community (ECU 44 million from the 6th EDF), will also be accompanied by a social scheme to provide a range of training and literacy courses and some public health improvements.

Despite the World Bank’s projected deterioration of around 8 % p.a. in the trade and services balance, there is expected to be a medium-term (1990-94) improvement of about 6 % p.a. (3 % in volume) in Burkina’s exports, mainly on the commodity (cotton) side, although a decline in mineral products (gold, in particular, will probably be 10 % p.a. down on 1987-89) is on the cards.

Although Burkina’s medium-term economic projections are fragile, the People’s Front still thinks that the new political guidelines, which reduce the ideological pressure on the people, will enable a start to be made on a properly productive economy. ‘Developing the economy is the prime objective of the People’s Front’ is the message from Ouagadougou.


‘No economic development without democracy’

For some time now, people have been looking at Burkina Faso to see what has been going on there since ‘Rectification’ in 1987. Captain Blaise Compaorthe President of the Republic, told The Courier how he saw things there at the moment, starting with a question about the Government’s economic options.

‘Burkina’s economic options are very easily understood. For a start, just look at the way things are. This is an agricultural country with 90 % of the population working on the land in spite of the fact that the rainfall is so unpredictable. They are educationally backward, their level of instruction is low and their literacy rate is poor and so they don’t really know much about new farming and herding techniques. This is the background against which you have to try and understand the basis of what we are trying to do with our economy today’.

‘The main thing is to raise the standards of this 90 % of the population by developing agriculture and becoming as self-sufficient in food as we can. Once we have done that, we think, all the other economic activities in the secondary and tertiary sectors will take off too. What we have to do, in a nutshell, is make the people literate and give them education, build dams and sink wells, combat erosion and develop a spirit of cooperation in our rural areas to make sure more is made of the agricultural inputs. Those are the fundamentals of our economic policy. And all the other economic activities-including the infrastructure to conserve and trade our products-will go hand in hand with expanding agricultural production. The processing of these products comes at a later stage, when a proper light agro-industry should be set up... So there you have one very important side of our economic development’.

‘The second thing is mining. Burkina has various mineral resources-manganese and zinc, for example-and we are working with international companies to step up research and exploit the sector so that it can contribute to the general development of the nation’.

‘International cooperation can be a great help in the development of our resources, of course, although there is the problem of what practical contribution the Burkinabeople can make to it. We know’, the President said, ‘that international aid accounts for a very large percentage of development in Burkina at the present time. But we see it as a two-way thing-there is the cooperation we have as part of our relations with organisations such as the international financial bodies and our development cooperation under Lomnd there is that other sort of cooperation, NGO action, in which our people are involved more specifically. What the non-governmental organisations are doing in our villages and even our towns, which are often twinned with places in Europe, has to do with the everyday practicalities of living. They build schools, for example, and dispensaries and they help the people get organised and define their needs and the common means of achieving them-a whole range of things with immediate effect. The other, no less important, side of NGO action is that it encourages the people to be more forward-looking, so they are starting to think about the medium and the longer term - an approach which means that all the cooperation organisations are better informed about the population’s needs and which improves their contribution to the development schemes’.

Cooperation with the Community

‘The European Community’, President Compaoraid in answer to my question, ‘is very closely involved in a number of Burkina’s major development projects and programmes, mainly to do with agriculture, health and infrastructure, which are development priorities as far as we are concerned’.

Going beyond what he called the ‘very important’ economic aspect of ACP-EEC relations, ‘cooperation the Community’, he said, was also a ‘first-class framework in which to define and discuss discuss the ACPs’ development requirements. What we like about it is the acceptance of a dialogue between the partners about the development issues which concern us’. Captain Compaoronetheless pointed to problems in relations with the Community. ‘All that red tape.. which isn’t just our European partners’ fault. It’s usually the Africans’. The Lomunds-said to be inadequate-and the Stabex-said not really to make up for lost- export earnings-were not aims in themselves. ‘The essential thing, as we see it, is a proper framework for consultation in which we are free to say what we need’.

The World Bank and the IMF

‘There have been hard times in our relations with these two bodies’, Captain Compaoraintained, ‘because of a lot of misunderstanding, especially with the World Bank, which did nothing to}help Burkina’s development at all between 1985 and 1990’. But there is light at the end of the tunnel for cooperation with the Bretton Woods organisations. ‘Good contacts are being established at the moment’, the President indicated, heralding excellent relations and the imminent signing of a structural adjustment programme for economic recovery.

‘Development and democracy’

Economic reform means some degree of political reform, of course, and al though Burkina’s authorities still proclaim their ties with the revolution, they are nonetheless keen on ‘democratising’ the country. A democratic revolution, perhaps? This, at any rate, is what the Head of State could be aiming at when he says that there is ‘no economic development without democracy-i.e. without the masses being able to take initiatives within the framework of the management of political affairs’. This means having institutional structures to organise and govern the ‘great powers’ of the State, a ‘process of democracy’ scheduled to involve the adoption of a constitution in 1990. ‘And by the end of 1991, all the organisational structures which this fundamental law provides for the political and economic life of the nation should be set up’, maintained the President, who sees the constitution as ‘a way of taking today’s democratic achievements further’.

Democracy in Burkina, the President said, is not the upshot of the upheavals of Eastern Europe. ‘Those who have been following events here since 15 0ctober 1987 (the date of ‘Rectification’-see previous article) realise that we didn’t wait for the events in Eastern Europe to start proclaiming our own faith in political pluralism. Public opinion abroad has not really understood our approach, which takes our national realities and our political heritage into account’, he emphasised. ‘For us, the fundamental thing since Rectification is the proclamation of political pluralism, which is to be codified in the constitution’.

Human rights and cooperation

The human rights issue, long considered as outside the scope of ACP-EEC cooperation, has gained ground again with the changes in Eastern Europe.

Could the ACPs have stayed on the sidelines with such an international movement shedding doubt on all the convictions with which both sides postponed the inevitable? ‘No’, Captain Compaoraid. ‘When you are a leader and you want to make your people happy, it cannot be to the detriment of human rights and individual freedoms. So it is important for human rights to be seen to be of common interest in relations between the ACPs and the Community and the other cooperation organisations’. There is also the question here of ‘the confidence there has to be, at home and abroad, if we are to call for an effort by the people and an increase in the international resources we need for our development’.

There may well be disagreement about defining or respecting human rights, of course, ‘when there is an impression that political interference is actually defence of these rights’, Compaorointed out. ‘The principle is that no State should infringe the rights and freedoms of the individual and then do the rounds looking for international aid’.

Regional and inter-African cooperation marking time

Can African countries make an efficient job of international cooperation when they still have so few organised economic relations at regional or continental level? A good question, particularly since the driving force of trade and economies of scale on development needs no further demonstration. This is something the African countries are in fact well aware of, as they have set up a host of organisations to promote the policy and practice of African cooperation over the past 30 years, although without notable success. ‘Regional and inter-African cooperation is marking time, it is true’, the President said, for several reasons, ‘starting with the colonial heritage. The Balkanisation of Africa produced small States with sovereignty only in name and virtually no weight on the international or the economic scene. But diminished sovereignty is sometimes a particularly efficient way of stopping political and (for years) ideological barriers from coming down and enabling our economies to develop and integrate’, the President went on. ‘There are too many artificial obstacles hampering Africa’s cooperation and regional integration schemes. The States do not want to lose one iota of their powers to the technical organisations’.

Another reason, and a consequence of the first one, Captain Compaoraid, is that the States claim to want to cooperate without having the sort of behaviour or political will that will get integration on the move’.

However, he went on, West Africa may well get on faster than other parts of the continent here. ‘We are rationalising our institutions in ECOWAS, whose 1990-95 programme should lead to the complete liberalisation of our trade, to free movement of individuals and to a monetary community. Without economic integration, no African State can survive international competition from the vast units of Europe, the USA, the USSR and Latin America’.

The continent’s problems are regional problems. Be they the economic difficulties which international cooperation is trying to alleviate or the end of apartheid which Burkina’s President calls a ‘great victory for law and justice’, there are still many obstacles across Africa’s path to general progress. Over and above the short-term and historical problems of the apartheid kind, Africa has yet to find the approach which will enable it to build a society free from the scourges of disease, famine and illiteracy’, Captain Compaoraid. So the African nations and cooperation bodies (such as the OAU) have to reformulate their policies and revise their working methods. And the OAU, Compaoraintains, has to be ‘politically and technically able to give a decisive boost to the continent’s major political and economic issues’. Problems such as the debt and the fighting in Africa would perhaps have ‘evolved differently if the OAU had had the authority and the power to take political steps to get our ideas across better’.

Take the conflict in Liberia. At the Baujul meeting ‘Burkina was against any aid being given to (former Liberian President) Samuel Doe, because Doe had massacred almost 2000 people in 1985 and there had been no objections from any African Head of State... On what political or moral basis could Doe’s supporters ask for support for him in the OAU or the UN? Respect for the people is important when it comes to seeking acceptable solutions to conflicts of this sort... and the OAU could have been of some use if ECOWAS had called it in’, Compaoraid.

Despite obvious disappointment over such things as regional cooperation, economic development and the way the Liberian conflict was managed by some of his African opposite numbers, Captain Compaoras nonetheless optimistic about the future of his country and the continent.

Interview by L.P.

A decade to get the better of under-development

The Plan, ‘a crying need’, as one former French Head of State put it, has had its ups and downs. It has been decried by the ultra-liberals and praised in the centralised economies, but it is still attracting the attention of the developing countries as a way of programming economic and social targets. What is Burkina’s planning aimed at? Frric A. Korsaga, Minister of Planning and Cooperation, said that: ‘At a time when planning tends to have pejorative connotations, it is probably a good idea to point out just how important it actually is in a country like Burkina Faso, where there are weak institutions and a drastic shortage of financial and human resources and the State, as pilot of the national economy, needs a yardstick if it is to remain credible.

Planning an economy is ‘fixing aims according to social ideals... and this set of methods and optimum resource utilisation process’, according to Captain Compaoris what enables the State to produce a better five-year, medium long-term development plan next time. ‘It is the control panel which will bring out the main aspects and priorities of our economic and social targets’, Korsaga said. These aims are to ‘be able to change the quality of the people’s living conditions... and lay sound technical foundations on which a gradual move can be made over to an industrial economy’. But there is more to it than proclaiming intentions and ‘the essential thing is the political will, without which no social plan can succeed’

A proper choice of development schemes

‘Consistent objectives’, the Planning Minister maintained, also meant a ‘proper choice of development schemes’. So the structural adjustment programme signed with the Bretton Woods organisations should ‘harmonise with and complement the public investment programme’ in the five-year Plan-which should try to meet the population’s basic needs in health, education, housing and other socio-economic infrastructure. Important measures would be taken to boost the capacity of agriculture and transport, two essential sectors, Mr Korsaga said, to ensure that enough food was available all over the country. One of these measures -early-growth, high-yield seed selection to cope with the constant, drought-induced shortening of the rainy season- was to be taken in association with a policy of importing fertiliser and combatting erosion so that a coherent series of agricultural productivity schemes could be run, the Minister explained.

If the results of this are good, Mr Korsaga will have no worries about collecting the produce-a stage at which a lot of the harvest is often lost in Africa. ‘We are fairly good at organising this. The National Grain Board collects and markets the cereals’, he told me, although its job will be confined to storage under the structural adjusttnent programme, a change in organisation which should also make for better organisation to cut the cost of collection by peasant cooperatives.

The Government will be completing this agricultural and cereal policy by building ‘priority roads between areas with surpluses and areas with shortfalls to make supply easier and as far as possible avoid pockets of famine being caused by poor services between areas of unequal production’.

Other incentives

There will be further incentives for the producers. Threshold prices on which the farmers can freely negotiate their sales will be fixed, for example, the aim of a basic price being to prevent economic operators who go direct to the producer from taking unfair advantage of him in times of over-production by giving him too little for produce which can then be sold at a very high price in the towns or on export markets in the neighbouring countries. But Korsaga also thinks that ‘there will no longer be any point in fixing prices, even indicative ones’ once the storage policy covers the whole country, since farmers will no longer be forced to sell to avoid losses.

But the success of the policy the Minister described will depend on what is channelled into it in the way of resources, the first of which are the country’s human resources-almost 15 % of the investments, he thinks. He is also very much counting on ‘the external partners... who are by no means disappointed with what we are doing with the funds at our disposal’.

Burkina’s external partners of course include the European Community. ‘The Lomonvention, which governs ACP-EEC relations, fits in with our development aims very well’, Korsaga says, particularly when it comes to rural development and involving the people, women especially, in defining and running projects.

Better aid absorption

Aid absorption capacity is often advanced as the reason for dwindling development contributions, the Minister maintained. But there are wrongs on both sides. ‘The aid disbursement conditions are not made any easier by the contributors. And the fact that the recipient countries do not understand the procedures does nothing to diminish their responsibility for the problems attached to fast and efficient aid utilisation either’.

Progress might be made with this under LomV, he imagined, as ‘we have begun to be familiar with the procedures and we have also asked our European partners to try and be flexible with the terms of disbursal... Both our partners and the ACP States realise that the extra aid we fought for in the negotiations will not have any real meaning unless we improve the degree of utilisation of these resources... Everyone now has to come to terms with that’.

Better management of national and international development resources was reason to view the country’s future with optimism, the Minister felt. ‘Economy-wise, we hope to be able to generate dynamism in sectors where the development potential has been under- or unexploited so far. Over the next 10 years, by the year 2000, we think we should be able to halt the decline of our public finances and our external position, particularly when it comes to the trade balance-which means that the structural adjustment programmes we are setting up have to pave the way for the sort of growth that will enable our country to get the better of underdevelopment by the beginning of the 21st century...’.


State finances

One of the causes of under-development in the ACP States, over and above any errors of management or economic policy options, is the shortage or indeed. total absence of financial resources. Burkina Faso is badly handicapped when it comes to money for a sustained programme of development. Unlike countries with major sources of income -Nigeria and Gabon (oil), for example, and Cd’lvoire and Cameroon (farming, timber and even petroleum) - Burkina is a landlocked nation whose financial limitations are a genuine constraint on all economic ambition.

The State Secretary for Finance, Tiraogo Celestin Tiendrebeogo, told The Courier about the structures and the new Ouagadougou Government’s method of handling State finances.

‘Our budget is financed mainly by taxes and a look at the structure of State income shows just how important this tax revenue is. In the 1990 budget, for example, which came to CFAF 96 097 billion, tax revenue accounted for CFAF 84 961 billion, which is 88.41 %, with non-tax revenue an estimated CFAF 9 400 billion, or 9.78 %. Then there are what we call the capital reserves, which are not tied to tax revenue, and they are worth CFAF I 734 billion, or 1.80 % of the budget’.

Almost 80 % of this tax revenue ‘is raised on consumption-it is indirect taxation, that is to say, customs duties accounting for about 55 % of the total State budget and such things as the business turnover tax and the duties on tobacco, fuel and locally-made beverages. So purchase tax is the main source of tax and budget revenue’.

An initial remark about the structure of Burkina’s budget and State finances is that income tax and the industrials and commercial profits taxes only account for about 20 % of the country’s total tax revenue.

Yet the budget could be financed and the percentage of customs duties and indirect taxation in the State finances reduced in another way, with the nation’s potential mineral earnings from, say, the Poura gold deposit. But as things stand, the income accruing from the working of the mines goes into repaying the loans (CFAF 23 billion) used to finance the mining concerns-which nonetheless, Ouagadougou hopes, will be bringing money into the State coffers soon.

The structure of Burkina’s State finances is fragile, obviously, when it comes to pressing on with the job of running the country without upsetting major economic projects. But President Compaor146;s Government does not want external financing for the budget. ‘The structure of our budget shows that we are anxious to avoid financing our operating expenditure (some CFAF 86 billion in 1989) with loans, subsidies or even grants as far as possible’, Tiendrebeogo said. As he sees it, channelling loans and subsidies into productive projects (capital spending of CFAF 17 billion in 1989)wouldenable the Government to achieve the twofold aim of getting operating expenditure under control and speeding up the implementation of development projects.

And the first result of this, he maintained, would be to ‘make our productive units efficient and able to boost their productivity and profitability and thereby generate more direct revenue in the form of industrial and commercial turnover taxes and more indirect revenue in the form of levies on non-commercial profits and other taxes on consumption’-which would keep up with the increase in income distribution. The Government is counting on more jobs and company productivity to do this. However, these are economic forecasts, not controllable data. Imponderables, be they short-term economic or other factors, could well compromise the success of the State’s budget financing policy.

Of course, ‘there are limits to tax pressure and we cannot rashly expand the basis of assessment’, the State Secretary said, but he still firmly believes that ‘a better performance from the production units... will push up the national income... and the public finances without any change to the present tax arrangements.

‘Someting which bothers us’

Heavier taxes on household spending would also raise the cost of living for low income groups, particularly those on low wages and would discourage the informal activities which are predominant in the economy and which make a considerable contribution to the success of any savings policy in Africa. ‘This is something which bothers us when it comes to recovering taxes and encouraging savings’, Tiendrebeogo said, particularly since, although the State ‘has limited resources, it still has economic development ambitions... So we have to be able to release the national counterparts of the financing for projects run with external funds’. Hence the need for investment resources ‘to prove our will to our external partners and show them we are making an effort to take an active part in the economic achievements and not waiting for them to, say, get productive investments going’, he emphasised.

But it has to be said that there are still doubts as to the State’s ability to do this properly, as Mr Tiendrebeogo admitted. His explanation for State intervention in African economies was that ‘private operators are fairly unenthusiastic about investing in many sectors which are vital to the national economy, regardless of major tax and other incentives’ from the Government. The many reasons for this include the general weakness of economic structures, i.e. the absence of a market, infrastructure and skilled workers, red tape and so on-enormous difficulties for the economy of Burkina and the continent alike and ones which must be solved ‘by contriving to organise and rationalise our countries’ management’.

However, the State Secretary for Finance, who is the man responsible for filling the State coffers, says that the structural adjustment policy may well not just result in better management. There could be bad effects too.

Structural adjustment should get State operating expenditure under control, but it may also mean a big drop in the purchasing power of the wage-earners on whose purchases much of the tax revenue depends. And as long as the economy is not really growing, the Government will be ill-placed to check this.

However, the structural adjustment measures should help cut operating expenditure by pruning the vast civil service (33 800 staff in 1990 as against 23 482 in 1983).

The State Secretary said that figures available at the end of 1990 suggested that debt servicing had also taken an encouraging turn, having gone from 26.35 % of export revenue in 1987 to 20.88 % in 1988. In terms of volume, the estimate for 1990 was CFAF 17 billion.

This positive trend, he felt, would continue. Thanks to its special schemes, the European Community would be helping cushion the social consequences of the structural adjustment measures being run with the return to good relations between Burkina and the Bretton Woods institutions at the end of 1990.

Political upheavals in Burkina have dealt a harsh blow to the economy, but the country now seems genuinely keen to adjust its aim and put more stress on economic performance and Government management.


EEC-Burkina cooperation

by Philippe de VILLELONGUE

The European Community has made no small contribution to Burkina’s economy.

1. The country received upwards of CFAF 100 billion from the Community between 1960 and 1985. Approximately CFAF 75 billion came from the first five European Development Funds (i.e. 7 billion from the 1st, 8.3 from the 2nd, 12.3 from the 3rd, 19.3 from the 4th and 27.7 from the 5th) and:

· 40 % of it went on infrastructure- 900 km of tarred road, 50 or so dams, more than 1000 water points (under the responsibility of village committees), water supply systems in several towns and a contribution to the Kompienga hydro-electric dam;

· 30 % went on developing rural production in particular via the creation- of 3 000 ha of irrigated plots and livestock and fishing schemes;

· 30 % went on health and education schemes including:

-aid for construction of the National School of Administration and the technical high school;

-assistance with opening and running 300 training centres to give young farmers a theoretical and practical grounding (in the three Rs and agriculture);

-almost 3 000 study awards for students and rural craftsmen’ nurses and agricultural credit officers;

-village equipment, especially schools. via microproject programmes.

Over and above this, Burkina received around CFAF 25 billion in the form of:

food aid, i.e.:

-about 100 000 t of cereals;

-about 15 000 t of milkpowder;

-about 5 000 t of butteroil;

· assistance with regional projects-the Burkina-Niger road, for example, aid for ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and CILLS (the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel), the opening of the School of Rural Equipment Engineering and the School of Higher Hydraulics and Rural Equipment

Technicians in Ouagadougou and the campaign against onchocerciasis;

· EIB loans with interest rebates, in particular for the Banfora sugar plantation and the Poura gold mine;

· a special world hunger control scheme -aid for the National Cereal Board, for reafforestation and for underground water prospection;

· grants to NGOs (which received more than CFAF 1.6 billion, 1976-85 inclusive);

· Stabex (groundnuts, cotton and karituts).

Since almost all the Community aid was in the form of grants or (very) ‘soft’ loans (40-year duration including 10 years grace period at 0.75 %), Burkina owes the Community very little as public debt.

II. The national indicative programme for 1985-90, for the 6th EDF (LomII), was signed in late 1985 and extra resources were awarded in 1988. The programme resources for national projects were therefore ultimately ECU 107 million in grants plus ECU 12.5 million in risk capital-a total of almost CFAF 42 billion.

6th EDF grants for national projects

The 6th EDF took a more sectoral approach to development. The focal sector for Commission-financed national projects this time was rural development, with the idea of helping achieve the strategic aim of food security, and the cooperation therefore involved various measures, schemes and investments to improve and secure food output, in particular by means of the proper management of natural resources.

The aims included:

· a better standard of living (food, water, education and health care) for the rural population;

· greater and more reliable production of food, local cereals especially;

· optimum utilisation of water resources in rural areas;

· proper management of the land and plant cover;

· the opening up of rural areas.

Major financing for two rural development programmes

One of these is in a part of the country with very unreliable rainfall (Provinces of Sourou, Yatenga and Passorand the other in a part where rainfall is good (Province of the Sissili). The idea in both cases is to encourage self-sustaining development by the people and to coordinate schemes to promote the rural economy.

Alongside this, the financing of the rehabilitation of the Yako-Ouahigouya and the Bassila-Lroads will greatly improve communications with these provinces.

A considerable effort is also being made to develop human resources. Hydro-agricultural developments on the Sourou Plain will make for reliable cereal production on the edge of a region which has structural food shortages and the continuing improvements to the valley floors in the Comorea are a contribution to the local rice promotion drive.

6th EDF risk capital for national, projects

The EIB has focused on industry. The SONACEB scheme meets the demand for cartons for factories and market gardens, FASOPLAST turns out plastic sheeting to wrap cotton bales and make bags for food and agriculture, SHSB-CITEC is doing more with cotton seed to meet the local demand for table oil’ soap and cattle feed and a scheme to help the SONABEL power company is being run as part of Burkina’s electricity supply master plan.

Comoice scheme, part two

The idea here is to consolidate and extend a lowland rice scheme in Comorovince in the south west. It follows on from part one of the project-to develop rice growing in the Comoegional Development Organisation which has received ECU 2.968 million from the Community since 1978.

Phase two involves developing (partial irrigation) a dozen sites totalling 620 ha to add to the seven (850 ha) already completed, continuing with the organisation of peasant self-management of site exploitation and modernising the planters’ methods.

Lowland rice growing is a traditional activity of the people, particularly the women, in this region, but chance variations in the hydraulic systems and the lack of any development has meant that yields at an average of 700-800 kg of paddy per ha, are poor. Small water engineering works and intensive growing methods improve the output and back-up measures-better access for trucks to the sites, the organisation of groups, training, funds to provide seasonal credit and equipment and the building of village warehouses -are also planned.

The work is being done by the public works department’ with local day labour called in for some jobs’ and technical assistance is provided by the Netherlands’ Volunteer Service. The operation is expected to take five years (1990-95).

The estimated costs of ECU 3.64 million are to be financed by ECU 3.42 million from the 6th EDF, ECU 105 000 from the Netherlands and ECU 115 000 from Burkina’s budget (i.e. the wages of the national civil service staff working on the project).

Some 4 400 rice growers, 85 % of them women, benefited from stage one of the Comocheme and 3 000 more (similar percentages) are to be covered by stage two - which will be an opportunity, inter alia to develop additional economic activity such as cereal milling and market gardening thereby considerably improving self sufficiency and the food security of both the producers and the people of the region in general.

An extra 2 000 t of paddy rice, most of it to be eaten in the lowland villages, is expected to be produced.

Other Lomb III operations

In addition to the national programme resources provided in 1985-90, Burkina has also had about CFAF 5 billion as follows:

· food aid, geared to improving the country’s food storage situation, i.e. in the form of aid for substitution, buffer stocks and indirect aid targeted via the NGOs (and amounting to CFAF 2.8 billion, the cost of almost 40 000 t of cereals, by the end of September 1990);

· grants to NGOs for schemes in the field, which continued to develop (about CFAF 1.8 billion in 198&89, including about CFAF 0.9 billion for 1988 and 1989),

· help with the AIDS control campaign;

· Stabex transfers (for cotton, karituts and sesame seeds?.

Considerable help under the regional cooperation heading, via a number of African organisations (the OAU, ECOWAS, the CEAO, CILSS, BOAD, ASCENA etc), in particular for the protection of the natural heritage, reafforestation, the promotion of butane gas, solar energy utilisation, animal health, post-catch fish loss reduction, cultural cooperation, industrial promotion, trade promotion, customs cooperation and so on.

Table 1: National projects - financial and technical cooperations during the Conventions of Lom

III. The initial allocation for the programming of national projects in the financial protocol for 1990-95 (LomV) is ECU 140 million, ECU 124 million of it in the form of grants and the rest as risk capital. This is almost CFAF 48.5 billion.

As well as drawing up a programme of reform to reflect socio-economic developments at home and abroad, the Government has stepped up its cooperation with the different funders and has resolutely gone for dialogue in the programming of new Community aid.

The authorities have suggested two focal areas for grants:

· rural development, with a view to lasting improvements to food security and better management of natural resources;

· basic socio-economic infrastructure (road transport and rural water engineering), something which also contributes to rural development.

Table 2: National indicative programmes

The EIB will be continuing to offer risk capital support to industrial projects, particularly those developing agricultural products. The need to promote private initiative could also open the way for new opportunities for cooperation in the SME sector. The large amounts of financing called for in transport and energy will probably mean that help will be given here too.

As usual, the (increased) funds which the new Convention provides for regional cooperation will be the subject of specific programming.

Ph. de V.


The World Bank says that Burkina Faso’s economy made great strides in 1985-87, with net GDP growth of 7 % p.a. With this performance, essentially that of farming and export commodities, production growth was faster than the 3.3 % p.a. population growth for the first time.

But the harsh drought that began in 1987 ensured that these improvements were short-lived and GDP has since declined by about 2 % p.a. The main geographical and economic data of Burkina Faso are now as follows.

Population (1989): 9400000, with an annual growth rate of 3.3 %, average density of 29 inhabitants per km² and about 8 % of the population living in the towns.

Capital: Ouagadougou. Other main towns - Bobo-Dioulassa, Banfora, Ouahigouya, Kaya, Tenkodogo and Diapaga.


GDP (1988): CFAF 581.5 billion, as against CFAF 509.6 billion (CFAF I = FF 0.02, a fixed rate) in 1987. GDP for 1987 and 1988 (at those years’ prices) was CFAF 346 billion and CFAF 372.8 billion respectively.

Per capita GDP (1988): US$ 200. The primary sector accounted for 37.4 % of GDP in 1988, the secondary sector for 21% and the tertiary sector for 36 %.

Food crops: Sorghum, millet, maize, rice, groundnuts and sweet potatoes.

Exports (fob): Included cotton (1990), CFAF 30.74 billion; gold (1990), CFAF 15.22 billion and citrus fruit (mangoes).

Imports (fob) (1990): CFAF 206.19 billion, as against CFAF 194.70 billion in 1989.

Data and estimates up to 1994 suggest an increased trade deficit from CFAF 56 billion in 1984 to around CFAF 117 billion in 1990 and almost CFAF 172 billion in 1994.

Balance of payments: Deficit of CFAF 101.9 billion in 1988.

External public debt: CFAF 195.2 billion in 1984, rising to CFAF 244.7 billion in 1988.

Debt servicing: 15.1 % in 1984 rising to 17.5 % of goods and services.

Health: One doctor for every 55 000 inhabitants, death rate-19 per 1000, infant death rate - 6.5 %, life expectancy-about 47 years.

Education: Primary school attendance rate-32 % (1984), secondary school rate-5 %.