On January 24, 2022, the Burkinabé military officers deposed the democratically-elected government of former President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, dissolved the government and national assembly, and suspended the constitution. The coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba assumed the role of president of Burkina Faso’s Transition Government. In February 2022, a transitional charter was signed by Transition President LTC Damiba laying out a three-year transition period before democratic elections could be held. Since then, a Transitional government and a Transition Legislative Assembly have been installed.
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country and the world’s seventh poorest country according to the 2020 UN Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index, ranked at 182 out of 189 countries. Burkina Faso has an estimated population of 22 million inhabitants (as of June 2022) according to the United Nations, and the IMF estimates its growth domestic product (GDP) at US$ 19.62 billion. Burkina Faso’s economy rebounded in 2021 and grew at an estimated 8.5 percent, attributable to increases in gold exports and the services sector, according to the World Bank. The economy is forecasted to grow at 5.6 percent in 2022. The fiscal deficit stood at 5.5 percent of GDP in 2022, but could reach 6.6 percent of GDP in 2022 as a result of the multitude of challenges Burkina Faso faces, including security, humanitarian, food, and social, etc. Over 40 percent of the Burkinabe population live below the poverty line, and the country ranks 144th out of 157 countries in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index. Some 80 percent of the country’s population is engaged in agriculture—mostly subsistence—with only a small fraction directly involved in agribusiness. In 2020, as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Burkinabe government announced a series of socio-economic measures ranging from tax breaks to subsidies and food support to low-income families. The overall cost of the measures was estimated at US$656 million.
Overall, Burkina Faso welcomes foreign investment and actively seeks to attract foreign partners to aid in its development. It has partially put in place the legal and regulatory framework necessary to ensure that foreign investors are treated fairly, including setting up a venue for commercial disputes and streamlining the issuance of permits and company registration requirements. More progress is needed to diminish the dominance of state-owned firms in certain sectors and to enforce intellectual property protections.
Burkina Faso ranks 100th of 177 countries in the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom report 2022 Economic Freedom Index. Among the 51 African countries in the report, Burkina Faso ranked 14th, improving its 21st position in the 2021 economic freedom report. Burkina Faso’s corruption perception score improved slightly from 40 in 2020 to 42 in 2021 and improved the country’s ranking from 86th to 78th of 180 countries.
The gold mining industry has boomed in the last decade, and the bulk of foreign investment is in the mining sector, mostly from Canadian firms. Moroccan, French and UAE companies control local subsidiaries in the telecommunications industry, while foreign investors are also active in sectors such as agriculture, transport and logistics, energy, and financial technology. There is a growing foreign investment interest in the security sector. In June 2015, a new mining code was approved to standardize contract terms and better regulate the sector. In 2018, the parliament adopted a new investment code that offers many advantages to foreign investors. This code offers a range of tax breaks and incentives to lure foreign investors, including exemptions from value-added tax (VAT) on certain equipment. Effective tax rates as a result are lower than the regional average, though the tax system is complex, and compliance can be burdensome. Opportunities for U.S. firms exist in many sectors, but including in agriculture and manufacturing
Burkina Faso remains committed to a market-based economy without barriers to trade. Over the last 15 years, the national power utility’s Société Nationale de l’Eléctricité du Burkina (SONABEL) customer base and energy demand ballooned. Between 2015 and 2021, SONABEL customer base grew by 64%. However, supply can only meet the demand in non-peak periods. Burkina Faso imports nearly 70 percent of its electricity from neighboring Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and faces electricity reliability and affordability challenges. It also imports other energy products such as gasoline and gas through a network of foreign companies to meet local demand. the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) suspended the US$ 500 million compact with the Government of Burkina Faso. The Compact aimed to unlock economic growth by strengthening electricity sector effectiveness, energy reliability cost-effectiveness, and grid development and access, creating a more favorable investment environment for firms in the energy sector and the wider economy and spurring further foreign direct investment in Burkina Faso.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
Following the 2020 reelection of former President Kabore for his second term, a new national socioeconomic development plan (PNDES-II, 2021-2025) was adopted to replace a previous plan (2016-2020). The plan covered four strategic goals: (1) the consolidation of resilience, security, social cohesion, and peace, (2) the deepening of institutional reforms and modernization of public administration, (3) improving sustainable human development, and (4) promoting high impact sectors of the economy and jobs. However, it remains unclear how PNDES II will be impacted by the January 24 coup d’état.
After overthrowing the government on January 24, 2022, LTC Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba met with the private sector on February 1 to allay the concerns of the business community and other investors. A Transitional legislative assembly, a transitional government and a transitional charter and agenda were adopted on March 1, 2022, for a 36-month transition that would lead to presidential and legislative elections. However, in an April 1 address to the nation, interim president LTC Damiba indicated that the 36-month transition timeline to democracy could be revised, should the security situation improve.
In a speech to the Transitional Legislative Assembly on April 04, 2022, Prime Minister (PM) Albert Ouedraogo laid out four major pillars or priorities for his government: (1) fighting terrorism and restoring territorial integrity, (2) Responding to the humanitarian crisis, (3) refoundation (or restoration) of the state and improving governance, (4) working towards national reconciliation and social cohesion. PM Ouedraogo indicated plans for a new development plan for the transition period that would incorporate major strategic projects from the PNDES II.
Article 8 of the investment code stipulates that there is to be no discrimination against foreign investors. For any foreign investor to benefit from the exemptions provided for by the investment code, it is required to submit a request to the General Directorate for the Promotion of the Private Sector.
Burkina Faso hosts a certain number of trade fairs and exhibitions to attract foreign investments. These initiatives encompass several sectors, including the bi-annual International Cotton and Textile Fair (SICOT), the annual West Africa Mining Activities Week (SAMAO), the bi-annual Ouagadougou International Arts and Crafts Fair (SIAO) and the bi-annual Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). SICOT—which was supposed to place on January 27-29 but was postponed due to the coup d’état—convenes cotton sector actors to advance the cotton value chain in Burkina Faso, Africa and globally. SICOT aspires to be the international forum for promoting African cotton by marketing the sector to the world, promoting industrial processing, attracting investment, and boosting industrial cotton production. Burkina Faso is the third largest producer of cotton in Africa, producing 518,545 tons in the 2021-2022 harvest. Burkina Faso also organizes the Burkina Economic days (JEB) to engage potential investors and foster mutually beneficial partnership opportunities. Previous JEB events have been held in Ouagadougou and across the world, including Canada, Paris, Vienna, and Seoul, among others.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHCLA). All the Uniform Acts enacted by this organization are applicable in the country. Regarding business structures, OHCLA allows most forms of companies admissible under French business law, namely public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises. Each kind of company has a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.
From 1995 to 2018, Law 062-95, which was amended several times, governed investments in Burkina Faso. However, to adapt this code to the new exigencies of the world economy and to respond to the fierce competition between states to attract foreign investment, the National Assembly adopted a new Investment Code (Law 038) on October 30, 2018. It replaces Law 062-95 of December 14, 1995, which had several shortcomings, including the non-coverage of investments in renewable energies and other energy sources. According to Article 5 of the Investment Code, certain sectors of activity may be subject to restrictions on foreign direct investment. Foreign companies wishing to invest in these sectors must follow a specific procedure specified by decree. However, Burkina Faso has not yet established a procedure to scrutinize foreign direct investment. Under the investment code, all personal and legal entities lawfully established in Burkina Faso, both local and foreign, are entitled to the following rights: fixed property; forest and industrial rights; concessions; administrative authorizations; access to permits; and participation in government procurement process.
The Investment Code establishes a special tax and customs regime for investment agreements signed by the state with large investors—from approximately US$ 162,000 (100,000,000 FCFA) to $1.62 million (1,000,000,000 FCFA). This scheme provides significant tax benefits. U.S. investors are not specifically targeted regarding ownership or control mechanisms.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
In March 2013, the GoBF created the Burkina Faso Investment Promotion Agency (API-BF). The establishment of the Presidential Council fulfilled recommendations of a 2009 UNCTAD Investment Policy Review. The website is www.investburkina.com.
To simplify the registration process for companies wishing to establish a presence in Burkina Faso, the government created eight enterprise registration centers called Centres de Formalités des Entreprises (CEFOREs). The CEFOREs are one-stop shops for company registration. On average, a company can register its business in nine days according to the 2019 Doing Business report. The CEFOREs are in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Tenkodogo, Koudougou, Fada N’Gourma, Kaya, Dedougou and Gaoua.
In 2018, Burkina Faso strengthened protections for minority investors by enhancing access to shareholder actions and by increasing disclosure requirements on related-party transactions. The 2020 Doing Business report ranked Burkina Faso 151 of 190 in minority investor protection.
Among the 21 countries covered by the World Bank’s Investing across Sectors indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the more open economies to foreign equity ownership. Most of its sectors are fully open to foreign capital participation, although the law requires companies providing mobile or wireless communication services to have at least one domestic shareholder. Furthermore, the state automatically owns 10 percent of the shares of all companies active in the mining sector. The government is entitled to nominate one member of the board of directors for such companies. Select additional strategic sectors the oil and gas sector, and the electricity transmission and distribution sectors, are characterized by monopolistic market structures.
The Burkinabe Government tries to promote inward investment via the Investment Promotion Agency of Burkina Faso or l’Agence de Promotion des Investissements du Burkina Faso (API-BF), which sits under the Presidential Council for Investment (Conseil Presidentiel pour l’Investissement). The API-BF’s mission is to promote the economic potential of Burkina Faso to attract investment and spur economic development. Burkina Faso currently imposes no restrictions for investors interested in investing abroad, within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) regional markets.
2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
Burkina Faso is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and is party to the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 agreement on the global minimum corporate tax. Burkina Faso is a member of ECOWAS. In August 2014, the United-States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with ECOWAS during the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington. In 2002, the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the WAEMU. This agreement establishes a forum for discussion of trade and investment matters between the United States, the WAEMU Commission, and the eight member states of WAEMU. Outside of these regional accords, Burkina Faso has no investment agreement with the United States.
Burkina Faso has investment cooperation agreements with France and Switzerland, providing free transfer of corporate earnings, interests, dividends, etc., between the two countries. Burkina Faso has signed and ratified investment promotion and mutual protection agreements with Germany, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Guinea, Ghana, Benin, Comoros, South Korea, Mauritania, Morocco, Taiwan, and Tunisia. Burkina Faso signed—but did not ratify—bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with Chad and Singapore. There are BIT revision or negotiation processes going on with France, Italy, Mauritius, Turkey, Kenya, and the United Arab Emirates. Burkina Faso has signed various multilateral investment agreements including provisions in the Lomé Convention and the WAEMU Treaty.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
The government of Burkina Faso aims for transparency in law and policy to foster competition. By law, prices of goods and services must be established according to fair and sound competition. The Burkinabe government does not promote or require environmental, social, and governance disclosure to help investors and consumers distinguish between high and low quality investments. However, the government believes that cartels, the abuse of dominant position, restrictive practices, refusal to sell to consumers, discriminatory practices, unauthorized sales, and selling at a loss are practices that distort free competition. At the same time, the price of some staple goods and services are still regulated by the government, including fuel, essential generic drugs, tobacco, cotton, school supplies, water, electricity, and telecommunications, and bread (e.g. baguettes). There are regulatory authorities for government procurement, for electronic communication and posts, for electricity, and for quality standards. Provinces and municipalities have the power to regulate in their jurisdiction, but that regulation has a minimal effect on business entities. There are several regulatory bodies at the national level, and they usually internalize regulations enacted by international organizations. Regulations exist at the supra-national level mostly through WAEMU and ECOWAS.
Burkina Faso’s legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are transparent and consistent with international norms. Since January 2018, Burkina Faso, as a member state of the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHCLA), adopted the revised version of the OHCLA accounting system. It is composed of the Uniform Act on Accounting and Financial Law (AUDCIF); the OHADA General Accounting Plan (PCGO); the OHADA Accounting System (SYSCOHADA) application guide, and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) application guide. The OHCLA accounting system complies with the IFRS norms.
There is no online Regulatory Disclosure. However, the regulations of the National Assembly allow the various commissions to hear civil society organizations wishing to share information to inform parliamentarians when they are examining bills.
International Regulatory Considerations
Burkina Faso is a member of the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). There is a supranational relationship between these organizations and their state members. Burkina Faso is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHCLA). As such, Uniform Laws adopted by the OHCLA are automatically part of the national legal system.
The Government of Burkina Faso regularly notifies all the draft technical barriers to the relevant WTO Committee. In the October 2017 Trade Policy Review, the WTO congratulated WAEMU countries for their continued efforts to improve their international trading environment, especially through the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Burkina Faso has begun the ratification process of the TFA, but it has not yet completed it. However, WAEMU and ECOWAS members already implement many of the TFA provisions.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
The legal system of Burkina Faso is the civil law. Contracts must always be performed in good faith. Burkina Faso has commercial courts and commercial law is constituted by the uniform acts of the OHADA. The Commercial Code governs all matters that are not covered by the OHADA law. The Burkinabe judiciary is independent although there are press reports of cases of corruption of judges. The Disciplinary Commission of the Judiciary has sanctioned corrupt judges. There are three degrees of jurisdiction in Burkina Faso allowing the loser to appeal a decision rendered in first instance. In the event of a dispute over the execution of a contract, the plaintiff must first obtain a judgment from a court and if the loser does not execute, the winner can retain a bailiff.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The investment code adopted by law 038-2018 demonstrates the government’s interest in attracting FDI to create industries that produce export goods and provide training and jobs for its domestic workforce. The code provides standardized guarantees to all legally established firms operating in Burkina Faso, whether foreign or domestic. It contains four investment and operations preference schemes, which are equally applicable to all investments, mergers, and acquisitions. Burkina Faso’s regulations governing the establishment of businesses include most forms of companies admissible under French business law, including public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises. With each scheme, there is a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.
Under the investment code, all personal and legal entities lawfully established in Burkina Faso, both local and foreign, are entitled to the following rights: fixed property, forest and industrial rights, concessions, administrative authorizations, access to permits, and participation in state contracts.
Competition and Antitrust Laws
The National Commission for Competition and Consumption (Commission Nationale pour la Concurrence et la Consommation) reviews competition matters. Some competition matters are under the aegis of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Law No. 016-2017/AN of 27 April 2017 on organizing competition in Burkina Faso governs market competitiveness. This law is intended to create a free and transparent market, a guarantee of the development of a market economy driven by competitive and wealth-creating businesses.
Expropriation and Compensation
The Burkinabe constitution guarantees basic property rights. These rights cannot be infringed upon except in the case of public necessity, as defined by the government. This has rarely occurred. Until 2007, all land belonged to the government but could be leased to interested parties. The government reserves the right to expropriate land at any time for public use. In instances where property is expropriated, the government must compensate the property holder in advance, except in the event of an emergency.
In 2007, Burkina Faso drafted a national land reform policy that recognizes and protects the rights of all rural and urban stakeholders to land and natural resources. It also clarifies the institutional framework for conflict resolution at a local level, establishes a viable institutional framework for land management, and strengthens the general capacities of the government, local communities, and civil society on land issues. A 2009 rural land management law provides for equitable access to rural lands to promote agricultural productivity, manage natural resources, encourage investment, and reduce poverty. It enables legal recognition of rights legitimated by traditional rules and practices. In rural areas, traditional land tenure rules have long governed land transactions and allocations. The 2009 law reinforces the decentralization and devolution of authority over land matters and provides for formalization of individual and collective use rights and the possibility of transforming these rights into private titles.
In 2012, the government revised the 2009 law, marking the end of exclusive authority of the state over all land. The new law includes provisions to recognize local land use practices. The new law provides conciliation committees to resolve conflicts between parties prior to any legal action. There are several property rights recognition and protection acts, such as land charters, individual or collective land ownership certificates, and loan agreements that govern the nature, duration, and counterparties for transfer rights between a landowner and a third party.
The first Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact (2010-2014) supported the establishment of local authorities and the issuance of titles as part of the land tenure reform process.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
While the ICSID Convention entered into force on October 14, 966, Burkina Faso has been a member of the New York Convention since March 23, 1987. In the event of an amicable settlement of a dispute between the government and an investor cannot be reached, the investment code requires that arbitration procedures be submitted to international arbitration under the rules outlined by the 1965 Convention of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), of which Burkina Faso is a member. When the ownership of a company does not meet the nationality requirements laid out by Article 25 of the Convention, the code specifies that the dispute be resolved in accordance with the dispositions of the supplementary mechanisms approved by ICSID in September 1978.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Burkina Faso is a party to the Washington Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and outlines arbitration procedures in its investment code as a means of solving investment disputes. BITs signed by Burkina Faso provide for international arbitration. Burkinabe courts accept international arbitration as a means for settling investment disputes between private parties. Longstanding disputes that remain unresolved after administrative jurisdictional hearings may be submitted to arbitration. Burkinabe courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards. The United States has not signed a BIT with Burkina Faso.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
Mediation and conciliation are available and encouraged in Burkina Faso. In 2006, Burkina Faso introduced specialized commercial chambers in the general courts and in 2007 opened the Arbitration, Mediation and Resolution Center (Centre d’Arbitrage, de Mediation et de Conciliation de Ouagadougou (CAMCO)) under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (http://www.camco.bf/). If a dispute is not settled by the CAMCO, the case can be referred to international bodies such as the International Chamber of Commerce of Paris.
The parliament adopted the Law number 047-2017 laying down modalities for intervention by the state jurisdictions on arbitration in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is not a member of the Apostille Convention and, consequently, any arbitral award rendered abroad should receive an exequatur before enforcement.
In 2016, a foreign mining company addressed an arbitration request to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration. The complaint stems from a dispute over the manganese deposit in Tambao in the northeastern corner of Burkina Faso. Prior to requesting arbitration in the Paris-based international court, the disputing parties closed their case at the CAMCO.
Burkina Trade Court
Burkina Faso has a Trade Court for commercial dispute settlement and decisions from International Courts go through the Burkina Faso Trade Court for their application locally.
Since Burkina Faso is a member of the OHADA, the Uniform Act on Bankruptcy is applicable.
There are no bankruptcy courts in Burkina Faso. The World Bank’s 2019 “Doing Business” report ranked Burkina Faso 107 out of 190 countries for Resolving Insolvency.
4. Industrial Policies
The 2018 investment code demonstrates the government’s interest in attracting FDI to create industries that produce export goods and provide training and jobs for its domestic workforce. The code provides standardized guarantees to all legally established firms operating in Burkina Faso, whether foreign or domestic. It contains five investment and operations preference schemes, which are equally applicable to all investments, mergers, and acquisitions. Since its adoption in October 2018 to date, there are approximately 195 companies which have been approved for the various schemes under the new Investment Code. The current investment does not envisage any incentives for clean energy investments such as tax incentives, feed-in tariffs, or discounts on electricity rates.
Burkina Faso’s regulations governing the establishment of businesses include most forms of companies admissible under French business law, including public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises. With each corporate structure, there is a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.
Under the investment code, all personal and legal entities lawfully established in Burkina Faso, both local and foreign, are entitled to the following rights: fixed property, forest and industrial rights, concessions, administrative authorizations, access to permits, and participation in state contracts.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation/ Special Economic Zones
There are no foreign trade zones, free ports, or special economic zones in Burkina Faso. The Burkinabe investment code prohibits discrimination against foreigners. American firms not registered in Burkina Faso can compete for contracts on projects financed by international sources such as the World Bank, U.N. organizations, or the African Development Bank.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) refers to a continental geographic zone where goods and services move among member states of the AU with no restrictions. The AfCFTA aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. As of May 2022, 43 countries (including Burkina Faso) have deposited their instruments of ratification. Of the 55 AU member states, only Eritrea has yet to sign. Start of trading under the AfCFTA Agreement began on January 1,2021. The AfCFTA will be governed by five operational instruments: The Rules of Origin; the online negotiating forum; the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers; a digital payments system and the African Trade Observatory. A digital payments system was scheduled to start in 2020 but has since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 10, 2022, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) launched a project to support the implementation of more than 30 activities in the AfCFTA in signatory countries, including Burkina Faso.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
The GoBF does not mandate local employment, but in recent years has encouraged investors to promote local employment and support local economies. The GoBF does not require investors to purchase materials from local sources or to export a certain percentage of output. However, regarding the mining sector, according to the article 101 of the mining code, “Holders of mining title or authorization and their subcontractors give preference to Burkinabe enterprises for any contract of provision of services or supplies of goods in equivalence of price, quality and time.” A decree was adopted by the Burkina Faso government in September 2021 to guide the application of the provision of article 101 and provided a list of goods for which the decree is applicable. It will come into force on January 1, 2023. The GoBF does not impose “offset” requirements, which dictate that major procurements be approved only if the foreign supplier invests in Burkinabe manufacturing, research and development, or service facilities in areas related to the items being procured. Burkina Faso does not have “forced localization” policies.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Since the 2009 land tenure reform law, the government of Burkina Faso has been engaged to issue titles recognizing land ownership rights. The MCC’s first compact focused on beginning this process in 47 communes, with plans for the government to expand the effort throughout the country.
Only about 5,000 land titles have been granted countrywide since 1960, according to the National Land Observatory, and the majority of those were issued pursuant to the first Millennium Challenge compact. Obtaining a title is the last step in the process of land acquisition and is preceded by obtaining a use permit or an urban dwelling permit, developing the land, and paying applicable fees. The titleholder becomes the owner of the surface and the subsoil.
Mortgages exist in Burkina Faso both for land and for structures. Rules governing mortgages are set at the regional level by the West African Economic and Monetary Union, specifically under the Organization for the Synchronization of Business Rights in Africa (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique des Droits des Affaires (OHADA). Liens are not widely used.
Intellectual Property Rights
Burkina Faso’s legal system offers protection for intellectual property rights (IPR), including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and semiconductor chip design. In practice, however, government enforcement of IPR law is lax. Burkina Faso is a destination point for counterfeit medicines, which can be purchased readily in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
Burkina Faso is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO). The national investment code guarantees foreign investors the same rights and protection as Burkinabe enterprises for trademarks, patent rights, labels, copyrights, and licenses. In 1999, the government ratified both the WIPO Copyrights Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). In 2002, Burkina Faso was one of 30 countries that put the WCT and WPPT treaties into force. The government has also issued several decrees and rules to implement the two treaties.
The implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is under the purview of two ministries. The first is the Office of Copyrights (le Bureau Burkinabe des Droits d’Auteurs, or BBDA) under the Ministry of Art, Culture and Tourism, which has the lead for copyright and related rights. The National Directorate of Industrial Property under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Handicrafts has the lead for industrial property issues. These two authorities have the technical competence to identify needs. Arrangements are underway to assess the needs for the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in Burkina Faso.
Statistics on the seizure of counterfeit goods are available upon request from the relevant agency. For example, the BDDA tracks seizures pertaining to artistic material, and the National Directorate of Industrial Property tracks seizures pertaining to pharmaceuticals.
Burkina Faso is not cited in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Reports or the Notorious Markets List.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
The government of Burkina Faso is more focused on attracting FDI and concessionary lending for development than it is on developing its capital markets. Net portfolio inflows were estimated at US$ 148.6 million ( 0.83 percent of GDP) in 2020, per the World Bank. While the government does issue some sovereign bonds to raise capital in the WAEMU regional bond market, in general the availability of different kinds of investment instruments is extremely limited. As part of its mechanism to fund its fiscal budget, the Burkina Faso government regularly issues 182-day maturity treasury bills (BAT) on the regional financial market of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU, or UEMOA in French).
Money and Banking System
The banking system is sound, relatively profitable, and well capitalized, but credit is highly concentrated to a small number of clients and a few sectors of the economy, according to the IMF. Only an estimated 15 percent of the population are believed to have checking accounts. Like all member states of WAEMU, Burkina Faso is a member of the Central Bank of West African States. Many foreign banks have branches in the country. The traditional banking sector is composed of twelve commercial banks and five specialized credit institutions called “établissements financiers.” In Burkina, the national strategy for inclusive finance was adopted on April 23, 2019. The use of mobile money is becoming more prevalent. In addition to two of the three main mobile carriers offering mobile money services, in 2021 other companies, both foreign and local have launched mobile money service operations and are conquering an important client base. This trend has forced traditional banks to install own mobile transfer planforms.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Burkina Faso is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU, or UEMOA in French), whose currency is the CFA franc (XOF), or FCFA. The FCFA is freely convertible into euros at a fixed rate of 655.957 FCFA to one euro. Investors should consider the advantages offered by the WAEMU, which allows the FCFA to be used in all eight member countries: Senegal, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso’s investment code guarantees foreign investors the right to the overseas transfer of any funds associated with an investment, including dividends, receipts from liquidation, assets, and salaries. Such transfers are authorized in the original currency of the investment. Once the interested party presents the request for transfer, accompanied by all relevant bank documents, Burkinabe banks transfer the funds directly to the recipient banking institution. Foreign exchange is readily available at all banks and most hotels in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
The GoBF is not expected in the near future to change its current remittance policy concerning purchasing foreign currency in order to repatriate profits or other earnings. As a member of a regional currency union (WAEMU), Burkina Faso does not engage in currency manipulation. Burkina Faso is also a member of the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a FATF-style regional body.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Burkina Faso does not have a sovereign wealth fund. However, in 2017, the government created the Deposit and Consignment Fund (CDC-BF), an autonomous legal and financial entity whose mandate is to receive and manage assets of various funds and entities, in particular funds from dormant accounts transferred to the Public Treasury (National Social Security Fund, Autonomous Retirement Fund for Civil Servants, National Post Office). Its mandate is to invest the funds locally. The CDC-BF is not yet fully rolled out.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
GoBF announcements for privatization bids are widely distributed, targeting both local and foreign investors. Bids are published in local papers, international magazines, mailed to different diplomatic missions, e-mailed to interested foreign investors, and published on the Internet on sites such as http://www.dgmarket.com.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
There is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among both producers and consumers. The GoBF requires mining companies to invest in social infrastructure, such as health centers and schools, and other projects to benefit the local populations in the areas of their mining operations. To this end, the 2015 mining code stipulated the establishment of the Mining Fund for Local Development (FMDL). FMDL is a mechanism to decentralize national resources wealth. To fund the FMDL, the GOBF contributes 20% of the royalties it collects and the mining firms contribute about 1% of their gross revenues. FMDL entered into force in 2019 and has since distributed about US$ 129 million to 351 communes nationwide. A common practice for many companies is to provide food supplies, typically rice or millet, to their workers often at the end of the year. Larger private businesses, such as civil engineering firms, sponsor sport events like the Tour du Faso and donate sporting equipment to disadvantaged communities. SOEs such as SONABHY and LONAB frequently undertake social projects.
Burkina Faso is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2008. EITI declares Burkina Faso as a compliant country, recognizing the country’s “significant progress in the implementation of the 2016 EITI Standard, with considerable improvements,” including satisfactory scores on five of the six corrective measures assessed.
Burkina Faso is ranked 46 in the latest Bloomberg NEF’s Climatescope rankings. The country does not appear in the ITIF’s Global Energy Innovation Index, the Global Green Growth Index, or the Green Future Index. However, Burkina Faso is engaged internationally on climate issues. Burkina Faso sent a 60-person delegation to COP26 in Glasgow. Burkina Faso continues to align itself with the positions of the African Group (AGN), Least Developed Countries (LDC) and the G77+China Group. Burkina supports the implementation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the Adaptation of Agriculture in Africa (AAA Initiative), the Sahel Climate Commission, the Congo Basin Region Commission, and the Islamic States Commission. In Glasgow, Burkina Faso reiterated its supports for initiatives related to climate adaptation, finance, and mitigation, as well as those on technology transfer, capacity building, among others. Burkina Faso has called for the international community to do more to respond to climate change challenges.
Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index indicates that Burkina Faso ranks 78 out of 180 countries. Nearly 82 percent of Burkinabe believe corruption is frequent or very frequent in their country, according to a report released November 2021by the National Network for Anti-corruption Fight (REN-LAC). The percentage of people who thought corruption was frequent or very frequent (82%) has risen steadily since 2019 (76%) and 2018 (67%). The Burkinabe public also believe that the fight against corruption is going in the wrong direction. The report also ranks the most corrupt public services as perceived by the public as (1) municipal police, (2) national police, (3) customs, (4) General-Directorate for Road and Maritime Transports (DGTTM), and (5) gendarmerie. The State Supreme Audit Authority (ASCE-LC) is the leading government anti-corruption body that publishes an annual report documenting financial irregularities, embezzlement, and improper use of public funds in various ministries, government agencies, and state-run companies. In 2018, the ASCE-LC opened at least two high profile corruption investigations against the Ministers of Defense and Infrastructure. The minister of defense was jailed under corruption charges and provisionally released due to health conditions. The Burkinabe government continues to grant access within its own ministries to the non-governmental watchdog REN-LAC, which examines the management of private and public-sector entities and publishes annual reports on corruption levels within the country.
Legislation requires government officials, including the president, lawmakers, ministers, ambassadors, members of the military leadership, judges, and anyone charged with managing state funds, to declare their assets as well as any gifts or donations received while in office. Infractions are punishable by a maximum jail term of 20 years and fines of up to USD 41,670. In May 2020, former Minister of Defense, Jean-Claude Bouda, was arrested on “money laundering” and “illicit enrichment” charges following a complaint by the National Anti-Corruption Network. In June 2021, State Prosecutor Harouna Yoda announced that the Deputy Director General of Customs, William Alassane Kaboré, was placed under “judicial control,” for acts of illicit enrichment and money laundering amounting to 1.3 billion CFA (USD 2.2 million). Additionally, investigations are underway on the mayor of Ouagadougou and some magistrates who allegedly tried to bury this case.
One of the main governmental bodies for fighting official corruption is the Superior Authority of State Control (ASCE), an entity under the authority of the Prime Minister. ASCE has the authority to investigate ethics violations and mismanagement of public funds in the public sector, including civil service employees, local and public authorities, state-owned companies, and all national organizations involved with public service missions. ASCE publishes an annual report of activities, which provides details on its investigations and issues recommendations on how to resolve them. Many of its findings are followed by judicial action.
The Cour des Comptes (Court of Audit) is another institution that participates in the control of the execution of the annual budget. It draws up an annual report on the execution of the annual budget. Every year, it produces a public report, including the observations of all its audits, which is submitted to the President of Burkina Faso. It also draws up a general report for the President of Faso on the activity, management, and results of the companies it audits on a bi-annual basis.
The Autorité de Régulation de la Commande Publique (ARCOP), established in July 2008, is the regulatory oversight body that ensures fairness in the procurement process by monitoring the execution of all government contracts. ARCOP may impose sanctions, initiate lawsuits, and publish the names of fraudulent or delinquent businesses. It also educates communities benefiting from public investment monies to take a more active part in monitoring contractors. ARCOP works with the media to strengthen journalists’ capacity to investigate suspected fraud cases. Since 2012, the media has noticeably increased its coverage of high-profile corruption cases.
The Reseau National de Lutte Contre la Corruption (REN-LAC)’s annual state of corruption report has led to a wide range of anti-corruption initiatives and tools. REN-LAC has a 24-hour hotline that allows it to gather information on alleged corrupt practices anonymously reported by citizens. African Parliamentarians’ Network against Corruption also has a local chapter in Burkina Faso and cooperates with REN-LAC. To put an end to tax fraud, the government passed into law Article 17 of the November 21, 2013, Law No. 037-2013/AN of the 2014 Budget Law, which called for standardized invoices (Facture Normalisée) in commercial transactions. The Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce will help facilitate its implementations. This provision however only became operational in early 2022.
As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Burkina Faso has agreed to enforce a regional law against money laundering and has issued a national law against money laundering and financial crimes.
Burkina Faso has taken steps to fully adopt regional and international anti-corruption frameworks, and the country ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in October 2006.
According to World Bank rating for control of corruption, Burkina Faso has improved steadily since 2013 and currently ranks above the regional average.
Luc Marius Ibriga
Contrôleur Général d’Etat
Autorité Supérieure de Contrôle d’Etat et de la Lutte contre la Corruption (ASCE-LC)
Telephone: +226 25 30 10 91 or +226 25 33 60 39
10. Political and Security Environment
Rampant insecurity and the government’s inability to stem violent extremism contributed to the military overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré on January 24, 2022. In 2021, Burkina Faso recorded the highest number of attacks during its five-plus year battle with violent extremism. The result has led to a crisis resulting in the closure of schools and the massive displacement of people from their homes and communities. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore had been reelected to a second and final term in November 2020. This was the first time a democratic handover of power occurred in Burkina Faso’s history since it gained independence in 1960. During the same period legislative elections were organized and results were accepted by all political parties.
However, Violent extremists remain very active in Burkina Faso. Both the Islamic State for the Greater Sahara and the Jama’ at Nasr Al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) coalition have expanded their operation footprints in recent years. Security incidents include violence using tactics such as, improvised explosive devices, kidnapping, attacks, and targeted killings in an expanding part of the country in the north, east, and south. Targets appeared to shift from military and gendarmerie units to civilians and volunteer defense groups. In May 2022, VEOs carried out 61 attacks against civilians and security forces, killing a total of 173 people and injuring 40 others, The number of terrorist incidents in Burkina Faso’s southwestern Boucle du Mouhoun region rose significantly in May compared to the numbers reported for the three previous months. Since October 2021, over 799 people died in terrorist incidents, and an additional 600 individuals sustained injuries during the same period. On June 4, 2021, VEOs killed 160 civilians in Solhan in the Sahel region near the border with Niger. This was the second deadliest terrorist attack globally in 2021, according to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. The report also indicates that 732 people died from terrorist incidents in Burkina Faso in 2021. The African Center for Strategic Studies noted in its July 2021 report that most violent attacks in the Sahel in 2020 were carried out in Burkina Faso (516 versus 361 in Mali and 118 in Niger).
In April 2022, a U.S. citizen was reportedly abducted in Burkina’s Centre-Nord,. In 2018, an American citizen was abducted but was later discovered by French operatives during an unrelated mission to recover French nationals abducted by extremists. Three Europeans – two Spanish and one Irish – were killed in an attack on an anti-poaching patrol in eastern Burkina Faso on April 27, 2021. In 2021, attacks spiked in the southern part of Burkina Faso, contiguous to the north of Cote d’Ivoire. The Cascades region border area, which has suffered several attacks in the past, is seen by experts as a hide-out for armed terrorist groups and a threat for coastal countries. As of April 2022, terrorist attacks have generated around 1.9 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) mostly in Burkina Faso’s Sahel, Centre-Nord, Nord, and Est regions. Since 2018, the Government of Burkina Faso has maintained a state of emergency due to insecurity in many parts of the country
As of May 2022, the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory to Burkina Faso is at Level 4: Do Not Travel due to terrorism, crime, and kidnapping.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Burkinabe workers have a reputation as hardworking and dedicated employees. While unskilled labor is abundantly available in Burkina Faso, skilled labor resources are limited. There is a scarcity of skilled workers, mainly in management, engineering, and the electrical trades. Construction, civil engineering, mining, and manufacturing industries employ the majority of the formal labor force. Burkinabe law allows workers, except for essential workers such as magistrates, police, military, and other security personnel, to form and join independent unions of their choice without previous authorization, and to bargain collectively. The law provides for the right to strike, but also limits this right with pre-strike requirements or restrictions (including notice submission and government’s requisition power to secure minimum service in essential services).
Public servants are also entitled to engage in bargaining. In recent years, a series of public sector unions have gone on strike to demand better living and working conditions. However, increasing labor demands across multiple ministries have begun to put stress on an already strained public finance system, and have affected the tax collection processes. Although President Kabore has announced the intention to present a comprehensive labor deal (as opposed to the piecemeal settlement of strikes in different sectors that has been the case until now), it is not clear that any progress is being made on this front. The Minister of Public Service has decided to establish for civil servants.
It is the GoBF’s policy to increase employment opportunities for Burkinabe workers. Therefore, in professions where there are too many registered and unemployed Burkinabe, a job-seeker card will not be issued to non-nationals. When non-nationals are hired, the Director of Labor authorizes their employment contract. According to the 1967 decree, statements must be made to the Regional Inspector of Work and Social Rules before the start-up of any new enterprise.
Burkina Faso has undertaken reforms of labor policy to make the labor market more flexible while ensuring workers’ rights, including workers’ safety and health. To promote local employment, the government has established several financing instruments targeted at firms interested in obtaining start-up monies. These instruments include Fonds National d’Appui à la Promotion de l’Emploi – FONAPE (Employment Promotion Support Fund), Fonds d’Appui au Secteur Informel – FASI (Informal Sector Support Fund), Fonds d’Appui aux Activités Génératrices de Revenus des Femmes – FAARF (Women’s Income Generating Activities Support Fund), Fonds d’Appui aux Initiatives des Jeunes – FAIJ (Youth Initiative Support Fund), and Fonds Burkinabe de Développement Economique et Social – FBDES (Burkinabe Fund for Social and Economic Development).
In the event of a reduction in personnel, the labor code requires the employer to first dismiss employees with the least training and seniority. The employer must advise employees of termination at least 30 days in advance. Workers terminated in a general workforce reduction have re-employment priority over other applicants for a two-year period. Employees terminated for reasons other than theft or flagrant neglect of duty have the right to termination benefits. In Burkina Faso, however, the informal sector is an important sector of the economy. A sizable part of the Burkinabe population earns a living in the informal economy, especially in agriculture and artisanal mining sectors. For instance, artisanal mining alone is estimated to employ one million to 1.3 million people directly. The value of gold extracted annually through artisanal mining is estimated at about US$1 billion, or about 20 tons of gold. However, they noted that much of Burkina Faso’s artisanal mining output is smuggled out through neighboring countries without royalties or tax revenue going to the state budget. In some regions of the country, over 90 percent of youth earn a living through artisanal mining, with some abandoning agriculture for the lure of gold mining. Nevertheless, there are no indications that the informal economy negatively impacts or crowds out investment across industries.
To date, Burkina Faso has approved and ratified 43 conventions of the International Labor Organization, including conventions on Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize, Abolition of Forced Labor, and the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The Ministry of Civil Service, Labor, and Social Security and a labor court enforce the labor code. Unions are well organized, independent from the government, and defend employee interests in industrial disputes. Workers know their rights and do not hesitate to seek redress of grievances.
Despite the government’s substantial efforts to reduce child labor in the past few years, 42 percent of children in Burkina Faso continue to engage in child labor, particularly in agriculture. The worst forms of child labor take place in mining. Cotton and gold are included on the U.S. government’s Executive Order 13126 List of Goods Produced by Forced and Indentured Child Labor.
The 1982 Commercial Sector Collective Agreement divides employees (laborers, artisans, and senior staff) into eight categories with minimum basic pay rates from 25,000 FCFA (about USD 45) per month. Conditions for the employment of workers by enterprises are provided in Decree no. 98 of 1967. An employer should ask job candidates for their job-seeker registration card issued by the Office of Employment Promotion, which is part of the Ministry of Civil Service, Labor, and Social Security.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Programs
Burkina Faso has received a combined US$ 14 million from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC); the loans date back to when DFC was known as Overseas Private Insurance Corporation (OPIC). Burkina Faso is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The country joined the Africa Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) in December 2021.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source
USG or international statistical source
USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)
Foreign Direct Investment
Host Country Statistical source
USG or international statistical source
USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)