Burkina Faso Industry

The industrial sector accounts for just over a quarter of Burkina Faso’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but employs only a tenth of the Burkinis formally employed. In addition to mining, there is a manufacturing industry.

The most important is the processing of agricultural products, mainly cotton, but also sugar and leather. Textiles and consumer goods are also manufactured. Under the name Faso dan Fani, home-woven Burkinian fabrics have become fashionable internationally (see Customs and Use).

The small home market, poor infrastructure and lack of raw materials, fuel, electricity, financing and technical knowledge make it difficult to develop the industry. In the late 1990s, the government began selling out state industries. The state industries that remain have been streamlined and in many cases become profitable.

Foreign trade

Burkina Faso’s most important export product has been gold since 2009, followed by cotton. Imports mainly comprise capital goods, oil and food. The country’s largest trading partner is Switzerland, where much of the gold is sold further, as well as France, China, India and some neighboring countries.

Cotton exports more than doubled between 2002 and 2006 and subsequently accounted for over half of Burkina Faso’s sales abroad. After three new gold mines were opened in 2007, gold exports rose sharply and in 2009 gold took over as the country’s most important export product. Nowadays, gold accounts for more than half the export value. Shean nuts are another important export commodity, as are cattle, hides and skins.

The deficit in foreign trade increased sharply until 2008, but has subsequently declined due to growing gold exports. The deficit is offset by some of the aid and money sent home from Burkinians who work abroad.

Ivory Coast, France and China have long been important trading partners, but nowadays Switzerland is the largest exporting country when it has been found that the Burkese gold is largely sold through Swiss dealers. Other important exporting countries are France, Ghana and Singapore. Imports come from Asian countries such as China, India and Thailand and from the US. There is very informal trade (smuggling) across the borders of Burkina Faso’s neighboring countries.

Burkina Faso Industry


Merchandise exports

US $ 3,242 million (2017)


US $ 3,248 million (2017)

Current account

– US $ 894 million (2017)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

52 percent (2018)

Main export goods

gold, cotton, shean nuts

Largest trading partner

Ivory Coast, France, China


Tourism is small but increasing every year. In 2013, the number of visitors was 218,000. Most tourists come from other countries in West Africa or from France.

Several major cultural events attract visitors, including the well-known African film festival Fespaco, held in Ouagadougou every other year. Large reserves of unspoilt nature with rich wildlife also attract tourists. In some areas hunting for big game is allowed.

However, poor roads and other infrastructure are an obstacle to tourism development. Hotels of international standard are found in the two largest cities, Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.

  • According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, BF stands for the country of Burkina Faso in geography.


Number of foreign visitors per year

152,000 (2016)

tourist revenue

US $ 109,000,000 (2015)

The share of tourist income from exports

5.7 percent (2014)



Homicide investigations for Sankara and Zongo resume

Prime Minister Zida promises to launch new investigations into the murders of journalist Norbert Zongo (see Mass Media) and former President Thomas Sankara (see Modern History).

24 dead in the revolt against Compaoré

An investigation into the uprising against Blaise Compaoré earlier this fall shows that the riots claimed 24 lives and that 625 people were injured. 14 public buildings were destroyed.

Provisional board is formed

A committee consisting of politicians and military, religious and civilian leaders elects 72-year-old diplomat Michel Kafando as provisional president. He has previously been Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN ambassador, among others. As Provisional Prime Minister, he appoints Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida. A provisional government is formed and has 26 members, of which five are military. Prime Minister Zida himself takes over the post of Minister of Defense, while other militaries are given responsibility for home affairs, sports, the environment and mining. President Kafando also becomes Foreign Minister.

Settlement ready for provisional parliament

Under an agreement in principle, a provisional parliament is to be chaired by a civilian president elected from among its members. Parliament, called the National Transitional Council, will consist of representatives of the opposition, civil society, the military and the previous government. In addition, a civilian president will appoint a prime minister who will in turn form a government with 25 members. No member of the transition board may stand in the next general election. The military command restores the constitution.

Ready for general elections in autumn 2015

The Presidents of Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria come to Ouagadougou to mediate the conflict. They propose that an orderly transition period can last for one year and end with general elections in November 2015. However, they do not succeed in reaching an agreement on who is to lead the transitional government.

Threat of new sanctions against the military

Soldiers loyal to Zida take control of the TV house and drive the protesters away from the capital’s central square. The AU gives the military leaders a two-week deadline to hand over power to civilian leaders, otherwise economic sanctions await the country.

The UN threatens sanctions

Thousands of people are demonstrating in Ouagadougou against what the opposition calls a military coup. They demand that Zida resign immediately. The UN threatens to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso unless the military relinquishes power.


Power struggle and confusion

While Compaoré flees to the Ivory Coast, various military factions claim power. Defense Secretary Honoré Traoré and Vice President Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida both say they will lead a transitional government. After a day’s confusion, the military leadership closes behind Zida. This repeals the constitution and promises democratic elections “as soon as possible” but does not specify a time. The military takeover is condemned by the civil opposition, as well as by the AU, the UN and Ecowas.

An emergency permit is introduced

When Compaoré says he will run the temporary government for up to a year, the demonstrations continue with demands for the immediate resignation of the president. Compaoré responds by announcing an emergency permit. After hard pressure from the AU, the UN, the EU and France, Compaoré announces that he is leaving.

The military takes power

The army leadership announces that it has taken power and that a provisional government should lead the country to a new election.

Popular revolt

When the National Assembly meets on October 30 to vote on the constitutional changes, the building is stormed by protesters who partially set it on fire. Violent demonstrations also occur in other parts of Ouagadougou and a number of people are reported to have been shot dead by police. The broadcasts on state TV are interrupted after the TV house has been taken over by protesters. Big demonstrations are also reported from Bobo Dioulasso and Ouahigouya. The government is withdrawing the bill to allow the president to stand for re-election.

Clashes between police and protesters in Ouagadougou

Kravall police clashes with protesters in Ouagadougou following a protest march against President Compaoré. According to the organizers, close to one million people participate in the march. The demonstrations continue the next day, and the unions are calling for a nationwide strike.

Schools and universities are closed

The authorities shut down all educational institutions in the country for a week to reduce the risk of unrest in connection with the National Assembly’s decision on a government proposal to amend the constitution.

Political conversations break down

One week’s negotiations between the government and the opposition on constitutional amendments break without any agreement being reached. The talks have mainly focused on whether a referendum should decide whether Compaoré should be allowed to renew the mandate in 2015. The opposition says at all costs want to avoid a referendum, as they fear that the government could manipulate the outcome.


Demonstrations against Compaoré

Again, tens of thousands of people in Ouagadougou demonstrate against the government’s plans to change the constitution so that President Compaoré can be re-elected. The president has hinted that he wants to hold a referendum in December, but officially no decision has been made.


Regional cooperation is strengthened

Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad form the G5 Sahel organization, which aims to strengthen cooperation on development and security in the region. The headquarters is located in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.


CDP defectors form a new party

Former supporters of Compaoré form a new opposition movement, the People’s Progress Movement (MPP). Several former top names in CDP join MPP, including former party leader and Speaker Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (who will become president in 2015).

Protests against plans for constitutional change

The opposition calls for protest against the government’s attempt to change the constitution so that President Compaoré can be re-elected to a new five-year term after 2015. Tens of thousands of people participate in what is described as the largest demonstration train in the country in several decades.

Burkina Faso Industry

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