By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Burkina Faso, the desert landlocked west African country located in the Sahel, might be facing
its thornest path to unpredictable political situation. With an approximately 22 million
population, majority impoverished largely due to misplaced state planning by the previous
political leaders, Burkina Faso has been severely affected by the rise of militant terrorist attacks
since the mid-2010s.
Burkina Faso is not alone. Across the Sahel region, neighbours feared the jihadist insurgency
might spread further down from Burkina Faso to coastal neighbours including Ivory Coast,
Ghana, Togo and Benin. Nigeria is already consistently fighting Boko Haram and other militant
According to several media reports, Burkina Faso has allegedly made an agreement with
Russia’s Wagner Group in which the shadowy mercenary outfit will help the west African
country deal with surging jihadi violence in exchange for a mine.
Russia is broadening its geography of military diplomacy covering poor African countries and
especially fragile states that need its military assistance. It has, during its past two decades of
raising its economic influence and fight French neo-colonial tendencies, bartered military
equipment to have complete access into mineral resources in Central African Republic, Guinea,
Mali and Chad. There are similar cases in Sudan and Libya.
Last year, it suffered two military coups, heavily condemned by the regional bloc (Economic
Community of West African States), and the continenal organization (African Union). Both the
ECOWAS and AU withdrew Burkina Faso’s membership and further imposed some restrictions
on the country for its military unconstitutional ascension to political power.
The ECOWAS and AU have also expressed collective concerns about any use of private
mercenary forces, instead of well-constituted regional forces approved by regional blocs, as a
means to address conflicts in Africa.
During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held December 13-15 in Washington, the White House
did not invite Sudan, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso because they are currently suspended by
the African Union following coups and counter coups in Africa. These countries are simply not
in good standing with the Africa Union.
Reports indicated that the United States has dropped Burkina Faso from its African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA). The main reason is that United States operates within the framework
of protocols of the African Union, and thus Burkina Faso is no longer and logically qualified for
the AGOA trade preference program. The United States’ Trade Office said Burkina Faso had
failed to meet the requirements of the AGOA statute.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides sub-Saharan African nations with
duty-free access to the United States if they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as
eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment and making progress toward political
Frustrations over the government’s inability to curb an insurgency spurred two military coups in
Burkina Faso in 2022. Late December, Burkina Faso’s military government ordered Barbara
Manzi, who is a senior United Nations official, to leave the country, a decision that was
contested by the United Nations.
Burkinabe Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, reacted to the decision by repeating a
November statement saying the timetable for a return to democracy had not changed. It had
committed to returning to constitutional rule in 24 months in a July agreement with the West
African regional bloc ECOWAS.
Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries. It is agricultural, but said to have been
mining copper, iron, manganese, gold and phosphates. Despite its political crisis, Burkina Faso
utterly refused to observe the protocols of the ECOWAS and African Union. And the United
States shows readiness to cooperate with African partners within the protocol principles and the
framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.