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Published on May 29th, 2015 | by Marion BOUVET | Credit: Embassy of Burkina Faso in Brussels

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Doing business in Burkina Faso: Interview with Mr. Dieudonné KERE

Version Française

Do you want more info and tips on how to do business in Burkina Faso? Then read our interview  with his Dieudonné KERE, Account manager at the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Brussels and discover a promising market!

Key Facts and Figures

Capital: Ouagadougou
Population: 18,45 million (Estimation 2015)
Borders: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo.
Official language: French
GDP:  US$ 684
Economic growth: 4.5% GDP (2014)
Currency: Franc CFA (XOF)

Interview

How should foreign and in particular European investors view the current social and political situation of Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso is a French-speaking country located at the heart of the Economic Community of West African States of western Africa (ECOWAS), an economic space with more than 300 million consumers.

Since the constitutional referendum of June 11th, 1991, the country took the path of democracy and the construction of a space of free expression and multi-political parties and organizations of the development of a civil society.

As many other young democracies, Burkina Faso had to face some socio-political crises of different scales. Nevertheless, the country has now fixed such issues thanks to a constructive dialogue.

Burkina Faso has demonstrated for the last two decades a certain political and institutional stability compared to other West-African countries that have seen various tensions. This stability allowed Burkina Faso to play an important role in the resolution of these crises by been a mediator.

What are the economic sectors that offer at the moment the most opportunities for European investors?

Since the political and economic reforms at the beginning of the 90s, Burkina Faso has encouraged private initiatives.

As we are an agricultural country, we offer real opportunities in the agro-business. Indeed, about 2/3 of the arable land are still available for  modern exploitation, while the country imports an important part of basic food such as the rice, the wheat flour, the oil, the milk, etc. So, the development potential of the agro-industry is big, especially for the transformation of local raw materials, not only for the national market but also for the sub-regional market.

One of the sectors that has expanded in the last years is unquestionably mining . Indeed, since 2009, gold outclassed farm produces and became the first source of export of the country. In 2014, gold production reached 36,5 tons. The development of the mining sector has in turn led to the development of a local offer of mining goods and services.

Regarding business opportunities, the country has a big potential in other divers sectors. The telecommunications sector is for example rapidly expanding since its liberalization. It’s the same for IT equipments and services.

As many other countries of the sub- African region, the energy deficit keeps increasing, creating big opportunities for the alternative solutions regarding energy production such as photovoltaic solar energy.

Insurance and banking sectors are also booming as there is an increasing demand for new products to accompany the development of the SMEs.

What challenges doEuropean SMEs face in your country? How can they surpass them?

Burkina Faso is a French-speaking country, although certain local partners speak English. It can become complicated to fill certain administrative formalities or to establish business relationships when you do not speak either French or English. This limitsthe possibilities in terms of choice of business partners. To face this, it is necessary to establish solid links with local partners who could serve as guide during the prospecting and the realization of investments.

What advice do you have for European SMEs trying to invest or deal in Burkina Faso? What would be your first recommendation?

There are no particular complexities in the practice of business in Burkina Faso, sincewe are a member of a space where business laws are harmonized within the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), regrouping 17 African countries. Plus, the reforms engaged since the 1990s strongly cleaned up the business sector. SMEs wishing to invest in Burkina Faso should take their time and give themselves the means to know well the local economic environment as well as learn the interaction between the various local networks. They should especially establish relations with the institutions that support the private sector such as the Chamber of commerce and industry. Finding the key partners seems to be the priority if an investor wants to make his mark in our market.

Do you have any advice on how to make business with Burkinabe businessmen?

The inhabitants of Burkina-Faso are simple and very open people, especially towards foreigners. However, it is important to have “local godfathers” who facilitate your entrance into different networks.

Ten good reasons to invest in Burkina Faso:

A political and economic governance in refoundation

A stable macroeconomic context

An economy opened on the world

A strong legal system

A zone with a stable currency

A young and dynamic population

A central geographical position at the heart of the ECOWAS giving access to a big market

A legal and judicial environment harmonized (OHADA)

A good international road making Burkina Faso a crossroads country for exchanges between countries of the UEMOA and the ECOWAS

Enormous economic potentialities in the domains of agriculture, mining, industry, tourism and services.

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