Burkina Faso: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Burkina Faso

Suits should be worn for government and official business, otherwise a shirt and tie should suffice. Most officials prefer to wear national dress. French is the main language spoken in business circles and if the visitor does not have a command of French, interpreter services should be sought from the British Embassy.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0700-1230 and 1500-1730.

Economy

Burkina Faso's economy is predominantly agricultural, employing 90% of the population and contributing to approximately half the total output. During years unaffected by drought (a frequent and recurring problem) it maintains subsistence agriculture (sorghum, millet, maize and rice), plus cash crops of cotton, groundnuts, sesame and shea-nuts, red onions, and shea butter, which accounts for 60% of external revenue.

Mineral deposits, including gold and manganese, have been located, although comparatively little has been exploited - in August 1999, the country's largest gold mine was closed as being unviable. Burkina Faso has a small manufacturing sector producing textiles, sugar and flour. New hydroelectric schemes should reduce the country's dependence on imported fuels.

Economic policy has been dominated by the liberalisation measures implemented by the Compaoré government since the late 1990s, with particular stress on the reduction of the state sector, trade liberalisation and attraction of foreign investment. The economy has been growing at approximately 6% annually since 2000, although it is still very poor, with an average annual per capita income of US$300 and depends heavily on overseas aid, particularly from France and the EU.

Burkina Faso belongs to the CFA Franc Zone, which fixes the value of the local currency to that of the Euro (formerly the French Franc). Imports outweigh exports in value by a factor of five. Over one-third of exports are bought by France, which provides a similar quantity of Burkina Faso's imports.

GDP

US$5.5 billion (2005).

Main exports

Cotton, shea butter, food and textiles.

Main imports

Machinery, electrical goods and agricultural products.

Main trading partners

Singapore, France, China, and Côte d'Ivoire.

Keeping in Touch in Burkina Faso

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is available in the five main towns. Handsets can be hired (against a large deposit).

Internet

Available in some hotels and Internet cafes. There are Internet cafes in Ouagadougou and one in Bobo Dioulasso. Power cuts can hamper Internet use.

Post

There are few post offices, but stamps can often be bought at hotels. There is no local delivery, and all other mail must be addressed to a box number. Airmail to Europe takes up to two weeks.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1230 and 1500-1730. The main post office in the capital is open Mon-Sat 0830-1200 and 1500-1830.

Media

The Ministry of Communication and Culture regulates the media. Despite practising self-censorship many media outlets, particularly private ones, are often critical of the government. Some journalists are reported to have been threatened or arrested. There are about a dozen private radio stations, a private television channel and many private publications.

Press

• The main daily newspapers are L'Observateur Paalga, Le Pays and Sidwaya Quotidien.

Television

Television Nationale du Burkina is state run.

Radio

Radio Burkina is state run.
Pulsar Radio and Radio Horizon FM are private stations.
• The BBC World Service, Voice of America and Radio France Internationale are available via local relays in Ouagadougou.

Edited by Jane Duru
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