Burkina Faso Economic Outlook

  • Economic growth is expected to reach at least 5% in 2016 and 5.9% in 2017 due to the recovery of mining and the return to democratic institutions.
  • Strengthening security to combat jihadist threats is still a major challenge to economic revival, especially after the January 2016 terrorist attack.
  • Urban growth has speeded up in the past decade and the urban population could reach 35% of the total by 2026, but towns and cities are still poorly equipped to sustainably manage this growth.

Economic prospects for 2016 are good, with overall growth forecast at 5.0% (slightly up from 4.8% in 2015) thanks to the return of democratic institutions after the 2015 elections and the resumption of mineral production. Inflation should remain modest (about 2% in 2016 and 2017) due to a good harvest and low world oil prices.

This growth rate is still far from the robust 2010-13 period, when it was well above an annual 6%. The economy has been damaged since 2014 by the political transition following the October 2014 popular uprising and two factors that are likely to persist in 2016: a drop in gold and cotton prices and higher defence spending in the final quarter of 2015.

Economic prospects also still depend on the new democratically elected government’s ability to foster political peace to ensure institutional stability. Stronger security measures to tackle jihadist threats remain a major challenge too, especially after the January 2016 terrorist attack. Although the poverty rate fell to 40.1% in 2014 (from 46.7% in 2009), the social situation remains worrying, with vast inequalities, so poverty is a source of future uncertainty, along with unemployment and under-employment among urban youth and women.

Burkina Faso is one of the world’s least urbanised countries, but its towns and cities have grown more quickly in the last decade. Urban-dwellers were 22.7% of the population in 2014 and could reach 35% in 2026. Weak urban governance has produced slums, and the country faces economic, ecological and infrastructural challenges. The dual land management system may seriously threaten national development policy. Large towns and cities are poorly equipped for sustainable development, and the economies of second-category urban areas are dominated by raw materials production, which is an obstacle to real efforts to turn them into centres of sustainable development.