Economic and Political Overview

flag Burkina Faso Burkina Faso: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

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. The coronavirus crisis negatively impacted this dynamic, as GDP growth slowed down to an estimated 1.9% in 2020 (IMF). Boosted by high gold production levels and prices and rising agricultural output, activity rebounded strongly in 2021 (6.7%) and is expected to remain robust in 2022 (5.6%) and 2023 (5.3%) (IMF). However, the January 2022 military coup could be economically disruptive in the short term (The Economist Intelligence Unit).

To face the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has launched a recovery plan estimated at FCFA 394 billion, including social measures such as exoneration on water and electricity bills and subvention to food prices. This plan, the drop in fiscal revenues and increasing security costs have affected the state’s resources. Public deficit rose to -5.7% GDP in 2020 and remained at a high level in 2021 (-5.6% GDP) (IMF). It is expected to reduce gradually to -4.8% GDP in 2022 and -4% GDP in 2023 before returning under the WAEMU criterion of 3% by 2024 (IMF, World Bank). The higher deficit led to an increase in the public debt, which reached 48.2% GDP in 2021 and is expected to further rise to 48.9% GDP in 2022 and 49.1% GDP in 2023 (IMF). Inflation turned positive in 2020 due to the pandemic, driven by high food prices and an increase in rental costs and energy prices (World Bank). Estimated by the IMF at 1.9% in 2020, it reached 3% in 2021 and is forecast to gradually decrease to 2.6% in 2022 and 2.5% in 2023 (IMF). The 2022 budget focuses on education, security and defence, health and rural development. Reducing poverty and violence related to the jihadi insurgency is a major challenge. 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, around 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. The completion rate in primary schools is 64.3% for girls and 56.6 % for boys. Nevertheless, insecurity and terrorism are taking a heavy toll in several regions of the country, negatively affecting the education sector. More than 1.4 million persons have been internally displaced, and by May 2021, more than 10% of educational institutions were closed because of the insecure environment (World Bank). In 2020, the unemployment rate in the country was at 5% (ILO estimate).

Main Indicators 20202021202220232024
GDP (billions USD) 17.3819.1018.2718.9520.38
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 831887825831869
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 46.452.459.659.358.5
Inflation Rate (%) 1.93.914.21.51.0
Current Account (billions USD) 0.740.04-0.63-0.64-0.61
Current Account (in % of GDP) 4.30.2-3.5-3.4-3.0

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The economy of Burkina Faso is mainly based on agriculture, but the country is Africa's 4th largest producer of gold. The agricultural sector accounted for an estimated 18.4% of Burkina Faso’s GDP in 2020. 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 32.6% of GDP in 2020. It employs 25% of the total workforce of the country (World Bank). Gold accounts for 85% of the country’s total export revenues (World Bank), thus making Burkina Faso really sensitive to the fluctuations in the price of this commodity.

The services sector accounted 40.8% of the GDP in 2020, 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) 26.2 25.2 48.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 17.5 32.0 42.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) -5.8 8.7 10.6

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 16.6816.8816.3816.5014.63

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

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 66%, they continue to account for as much as 14.7% 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 (81.4% 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 6% in 2020 (Comtrade). The country’s main imports are petroleum oils (20.8%), drugs (4.8%), cement (4%), electrical energy (3.4%), vehicles (2.5%) and rice (2.4%). Burkina Faso mainly exports to Switzerland (76.3%), India (6.8%), Ivory Coast (2.9%), Singapore (2.7%) and Ghana (1.4%); while imports come chiefly from China (12.4%), Ivory Coast (8.2%), France (7.3%), the USA (7.1%) and Russia (6.9%).

Burkina Faso’s trade balance is structurally negative, but trade deficit has been decreasing gradually over the past years due to increased exports and lower imports. According to the Statistics Office (INSD), the trade balance has turned positive since the second quarter of 2020. During the first and second quarter of 2021, the cumulative trade surplus amounted to FCFA 304.2 billion (INSD). According to WTO data, in 2020 exports of goods rose to USD 4.47 billion, while imports of goods decreased to USD 4.12 billion. Services exports generated USD 413 million while services imports cost the country USD 1.57 billion (WTO).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,8954,3014,2844,1174,614
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,8753,2543,2394,3725,043
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3541,4971,4551,5721,508
Exports of Services (million USD) 456507491413573
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
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
Trade Balance (million USD) -52903661,330n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -898-656-555577n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 59.360.658.7n/an/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Switzerland 72.7%
India 9.6%
Singapore 3.8%
Ivory Coast 3.6%
Mali 1.6%
See More Countries 8.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 13.9%
Ivory Coast 8.5%
France 7.8%
United States 6.9%
Ghana 5.9%
See More Countries 57.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

5.1 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 77.4%
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 9.0%
Zinc ores and concentratesZinc ores and concentrates 3.1%
Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 2.3%
Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or...Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or not broken (excl. edible nuts, olives, soya beans, groundnuts, copra, linseed, rape or colza seeds and sunflower seeds) 2.1%
See More Products 6.1%
4.7 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 22.8%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.2%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 4.0%
Electrical energyElectrical energy 3.1%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.8%
See More Products 63.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was appointed as interim president by the military junta that dismissed former president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (since 24 January 2022)
Prime Minister: Vacant since 24 January 2022 following the coup d’état that dismissed former Prime Minister Lassina Zerbo
Next Election Dates
Presidential:  to be determined
National Assembly:  to be determined
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
Type of State
Democratic Republic.
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).

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Partly Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the evolution of the COVID19 pandemic and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID19 disease in Burkina Faso, please visit the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health platform containing official data. The platform provides a daily epidemiological update, which includes key national figures.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest
situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
For the latest public health situation in Burkina Faso and the current sanitary measures in force, please consult the Ministry of Health's platform, including the up-to-date information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
Information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the health emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including possible import and export restrictions, if applicable) is available here.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Burkina Faso on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
Information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Burkina Faso government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the country's economy, is available here.
For a general overview of the main economic policy measures (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the government of Burkina Faso to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Burkina Faso in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
Information on the local business support programme established by the Government of Burkina Faso to help small and medium enterprises cope with the economic impact of the COVID19 epidemic on their activity, is available here.
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.
Support plan for exporters
Official government sources do not provide information on specific programmes for exporting companies following the coronavirus epidemic outbreak.

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Latest Update: March 2023