The share of the secondary sector in GDP is 19%. This sector is still largely characterized by state enterprises (electricity and water) and the construction sector. The telecommunications company ONATEL was 49% privatized in 2006. Food processing, assembly of mopeds and beverage manufacturing are other industries.
In addition, the informal area, which is difficult to measure, comprises over 60%.
A number of negative location factors stand in the way of significant industrial development. The following are to be mentioned:
- the unfavorable inland location with high transport costs
- the lack of cheap energy sources
- low level of education and production
The state energy supplier SONABEL (Société Nationale Burkinabe de l´Electricité) was founded in 1968 as “VOLTELEC” and has a capital of 46 billion FCFA (70,000,000 EURO). SONABEL supplies 181 localities.
Around 40% of the energy is imported, 50% is generated in 24 thermal power plants and 10% is obtained from hydropower and solar power plants (four hydropower plants). A large solar power plant is being built to the west of Ouagadougou (Zagtouli).
The Canadian company Windiga Energy started construction of the second larger solar power plant in Burkina Faso in August 2016 for 25 billion FCFA (38 million €). The construction is being carried out as part of the partnership between the state and private industry (Partenariat public-privé (PPP)). The power plant should have an output of 20 MW and provide 33 million kWh of electrical energy annually. This makes it the largest privately operated solar power plant in sub-Saharan Africa. Its location is Dédougou in the west of the country. The technical equipment comes from Siemens, the African bank for development BAD supports the project financially. After 25 years, the power plant will go to the state for a symbolic franc.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining started the project “Decentralized supply of rural areas with electrical energy through photovoltaics ” on March 17, 2016. The Fund for the Development of Electrification (Fonds de développement de l’électrification (FDE)) is to implement the project within 30 months. According to payhelpcenter, 41 localities in six regions of Burkina Faso are to benefit from this. The total cost of 6.7 billion FCFA (EUR 10 million) is financed 90% by the Banque Islamique de Développement (BID) and 10% by the Burkinabe state. In March 2017, the Kaya-Dori power grid was inaugurated with the electrification of the municipalities of Bani, Yalgo, Tougouli and Pissila.
In addition, Taiwan Burkina Faso is providing 77,806 autonomous solar stations with a total value of 778 million FCFA (€ 1.2 million).
On October 21, 2017, President Roch Kaboré started a new program to electrify 822 rural areas. The “Program spécial d´électrification rurale” (PSER) has a financial volume of around EUR 38 million and is financed by the World Bank and the PASEL project.
In Burkina Faso, the mineral industry is playing an increasingly prominent role in export trade. The country ranks 6th in the ranking of the highest raw material deposits in Africa (according to Institut Fraser 2011). The 2003 revision of mining legislation appears to have stimulated the sector. Numerous soil research companies have now settled in the country. Around 700 exploratory permits have been issued so far. According to initial estimates, in addition to the rich gold and manganese deposits, Burkina Faso also has copper, iron ore, cassiterite (tin stone) and phosphates in the approximately 75,000 km² Birim sediments. Dolomite, gold, granite, marble, phosphates, pumice and other volcanic stones as well as salts are already being mined. The enormous growth in this branch of the economy in recent years would be of much greater benefit to the country socially and economically if the sector were not so undermined by corruption.
The mining of manganese, which is important for steel production, is currently being discussed again. In the northeast (Tambao) the reserves are estimated at 109 million tons. In April 2014 PAN AFRICAN TAMBAO SA was granted a license to mine magnesium over 26 km².
On January 19, 2013, a zinc mine was opened in Perkoa, 135 km west of Ouagadougou. South African and Swiss companies are involved in the joint venture.
One-sided focus on mineral deposits has aroused false expectations in Burkina Faso in the past. World Bank officials are now warning against this.
Since 2005, more and more commercial companies have been getting involved in gold mining and increasing export trade. Around 30 international corporations mine gold in Burkina Faso.
In 2009, gold dethroned cotton as the country’s most important export. Former Prime Minister Luc Adolphe Tiao said before the National Assembly: “The mines are now a mainstay of our development. With more than 78% of export revenues in 2019, gold, along with other precious metals, has consolidated its position as Burkina Faso’s leading export product. ” Gold exports would have contributed around 5 percent to GDP.
There are 13 industrial mines and around 200 “wild” gold mining sites in Burkina Faso. Essakane is the largest mine and is located in the north. The Inata, Taparko and Bouroum mines are also located in the wider area of Dori.
Social and ecological impacts of gold mining
However, there is growing resentment among the population that the enormous growth in this sector is not affecting the overall economy. The government elected at the end of 2015 became aware that the population is benefiting too little from gold mining and wants to create 17,000 new jobs in it.
An expert meeting in February 2012 came to the conclusion that the extraction of raw materials in Africa would not benefit the African population. (Officially, the state of Burkina Faso receives 10% of the profits.) Burkina Faso is currently being plundered by mineral corporations. In April 2014 it was revealed in the press that a total of 24 people in Burkina Faso – headed by the presidential family – controlled gold mining.
Other negative consequences of gold mining are the destruction of the environment, the risk of health, water pollution, loss of arable land and the expulsion of resident people.
In June 2015, the transitional government passed new mining laws, according to which the state and municipalities should benefit more from the gold profit, the mines invest more in local development projects and more measures are taken to protect the environment.
“Wild” gold digging
There is also the traditional gold panning, from which some local bosses or elites make money. Institutions of justice are often not effective in this environment. The number of “wild” gold diggers in Burkina Faso is estimated at 600,000. Serious accidents and spills in gold mines occur time and again. Some of the hard work is done by children (film). Almost 20,000 children were discovered in just 86 gold mines.