In this article, we are interviewing Jeune Afrique’s Nadoun Coulibaly, who discusses the incredible changes taking place in the economy of Burkina Faso and how SMEs are playing an ever-greater role in the Country’s national development.
1-Nadoun, can you give us an overview of the economic context of Burkina Faso at the beginning of the year 2020?
Burkina Faso’s economic context at the beginning of the year remains strongly constrained by the disruptions linked to the propagation of COVID-19 epidemics, which caused nearly 100 confirmed cases. Despite the insecurity in the north of the country and the confusion in the public sector, the economy has remained resilient and the GDP growth rate was around 6% last year. This macroeconomic performance was driven by the gold boom and good agricultural crops. But it is an economy largely dependent on exogenous shocks and climatic hazards.
2- In your opinion, can the development of SMEs have an impact on the overall economic development of the country and on the continent? In what ways and what are the main challenges?
The development of SMEs is closely linked to the development of the economy in a country such as Burkina Faso, where 90% of the economic structure is made up by informal entrepreneurs or individual businesses. One of the ways to help these entrepreneurs, who are paradoxically the largest providers of jobs, is to provide them with the tools to improve their governance. With good account management, these SMEs can access structured finance from financial institutions. Very often, these institutions complain that they do not have sufficient guarantees to qualify for bank loans. It is therefore necessary to envisage a system, including a series of measures such as financial information technology, account management, the execution of public contracts, etc., to enable SMEs to upgrade their products and services. This is all the more useful as the final aim is to increase the possibilities of tax collection for the benefit of the State.
3- What is your vision, as an expert, on the future of the SME sector in Burkina Faso and more generally on the continent?
In my opinion, the SME sector is resilient. Despite the difficulties, it is patiently building itself. This sector still has a great story to build on and tell. That is why it is important for our States to supervise the development of these companies and to have proactive policies to ensure the development of SMEs. Their growth will impact on the capacity of the State to raise revenues to finance its development through the construction of roads, schools and hospitals. Finally, it is in this sector that we must prepare for the emergence of future African leaders such as a Dangote in Nigeria or Mahamadou Bonkoungou, the boss of Ebomaf, the king of construction and public works in West Africa.