Burkina Faso Energy Situation

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Burkina Faso
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12.3333° N, 1.6667° W

Total Area (km²): It includes a country's total area, including areas under inland bodies of water and some coastal waterways.


Population: It is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship--except for refugees not permanently settled in the country of asylum, who are generally considered part of the population of their country of origin.

22,673,762 (2022)

Rural Population (% of total population): It refers to people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the difference between total population and urban population.

68 (2022)

GDP (current US$): It is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources.

18,820,064,798 (2022)

GDP Per Capita (current US$): It is gross domestic product divided by midyear population

830.04 (2022)

Access to Electricity (% of population): It is the percentage of population with access to electricity.

18.95 (2021)

Energy Imports Net (% of energy use): It is estimated as energy use less production, both measured in oil equivalents. A negative value indicates that the country is a net exporter. Energy use refers to use of primary energy before transformation to other end-use fuels, which is equal to indigenous production plus imports and stock changes, minus exports and fuels supplied to ships and aircraft engaged in international transport.

no data

Fossil Fuel Energy Consumption (% of total): It comprises coal, oil, petroleum, and natural gas products.

no data

Source: World Bank


In Burkina Faso, more than 80 % of the energy supply derives from biomass (mainly firewood and charcoal). In rural areas nearly all energy consumed is biomass based. Hence the national average is a consumption of 0,69 kg of firewood per person per day. This ratio can rise in some areas up to more than 1 kg, e.g. if there is no incentive to save fuel or if moisture in the wood fuel reduces the efficiency hence causing a higher wood fuel consumption.

Urban households prefer charcoal to wood because it is perceived as more clean and modern. However, because of the application of low efficient technologies in the charcoal production, the use of charcoal in towns is implicating a high wood consumption in rural areas. In recognition of this effect, the charcoal production has been re-organized and concentrated in five production areas in 2005. Still, the impact of inefficient charcoal production can be observed.

Despite the population growth, there are no real wood fuel shortages felt in most parts of the country at this point in time. Rural families can pick firewood on their way back from the fields without the need of specific wood collection trips towards far away forests.

In the North, the situation is different. The scarcity of firewood is even felt in rural areas. In the towns, where wood and charcoal are commercial products, the scarcity is reflected by rising fuel prices thus affecting the poverty situation of most households.

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Energy Situation

The electrification rate in the country is still very low. Considerable investments done by the government and international donors are so far insufficient to meet the rising demand in the two biggest urban centres, Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso. By consequence, the average connection rates are merely the same for years now: whereas in these cities the electrification rate turns around 20 %, the connection rate is around 5 % for the small towns and “near to zero” (report UNDP and Ministry of Energy 2012) in the countryside.Similarly, less than 5% of the rural population have access to electricity.[1] 

In terms of electricity,it relies heavily on thermal-fossil  fuel (70%  of total power generation) and hydropower. It also consists of 28 fossil fuel power stations and 4 hydropower stations. The main electricity supply strategy is to establish interconnections with neighbouring countries and to extend and repair the existing network.[2]

SONABEL, the national utility, depends on subsidies since several years to recover costs as the tariffs do not recover costs. In 2015, cost of electricity service = CFA 142 per kWh compared to average of CFA 90.5 per kWh).[3]

Renewable Energy

In terms of renewable energy, the installed solar energy potential in 2014, was around 400 kWp; 342 kWp on Solar Home systems and three hybrid PV-diesel mini-grid (each with a installed capacity of 15kWp). Although Burkina Faso has high solar energy potential but in 2014, solar energy represented only 0.1% of the total national energy consumption.[2] In November 2017, the 33 MW Zagtouli Solar Power Station near Ouagadougou got connected to the grid, contributing about 5% to the national electricity production at production costs of 6 US-cent/kWh [1]. In January 2018, the Ministry of Energy announced plans to build eight further solar parks totaling 100 MW [2].   

Because of low wind speed, wind energy is the least favourable energy in Burkina Faso. Although hydropower provides 10% of total power generated i.e 80 GWh of average production, it also has limited potential due to irregular and unfavourable hydro-meterological conditions. [2] Therefore, investing in solar energy could be a strategy to tackle energy poverty issue in Burkina Faso.

With Lagazel [1], Burina Faso also has a local manufacturer of solar lanterns.

Alternative Cooking Energy

The most used alternative energy for household cooking is gas (LPG).Nearly 35 % of households in big towns and still some 10 – 25 % in smaller towns own LPG equipment. The government officially supports a further increase in the use of LPG for domestic cooking. However, this is unlikely to happen. Already now, LPG only accounts for 0,4 % of the urban consumption due to lack of LPG provisions. The government fails to provide further funding for subsidies required to keep the LPG affordable. And for new customers, the investment cost for the equipment is another disincentive next to the unreliability of the LPG supply.

Even if shift to LPG is foreseen in some official government papers, thus not very likely to happen in a big extend as the same government has started to phase out from LPG subsidies. LPG is thus becoming more expensive and less accessible for larger populations groups.

If the fuel switch (wood fuel to LPG) is not realistic, the alternative for "modern energy for cooking" is the provision of more efficient wood fuel cook stoves.The baseline stoves for firewood (3-stone-stove) and charcoal (simple metal stove called "le Malgache") are very cheap. Hence any "new" technology has to compete with the expectation of low product prices. In addition, stoves have to be of small height and very stable because of the vigorous preparation process of the traditional daily food (a millet porridge that has to be "beaten" during preparation).

There are a number of improved stoves which were introduced in Burkina Faso at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. They take this aspects into account, and cost today around 5 30 years, they were not really to be found or used in the households at the onset of FAFASO.

Today, there are also factory finished firewood and charcoal cookstoves available from China. Many of them are not really adjusted to the local cooking equipment (round bottom cast aluminium cooking pots) and the cooking practice (vigorous cooking). Furthermore, the investment costs are too high to really compete with the very cheap baseline stoves which are currently in use.

Hence the challenge is to create a strong awareness for the need of firewood saving in and outside the big cities as well as the support of the producers to supply of stable, efficient, durable and affordable stoves even for poorer parts of the population even if they are living in remote parts of the country.

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Rural cooperatives (COOPELs)

There are more than 90 local cooperatives in rural areas with an authorisation or concession to manage a local distribution network. FDE provides grant (60%) and loans (40%) of the investment costs. Most of them are connected to the grid and purchase power in bulk from SONABEL, but several have generation capacity (including PV systems). These mini-grids supply between 50-thousands of clients, on average 300 customers. They are often manged voluntarily.

The National Union of Electricity Co-operatives in Burkina Faso (UNCOOPEL) acts as a national coordinator, lobbies for financing of the COOPELs and conducts trainings and support visits.[3]

Key Problems of the Energy Sector

  • Only slow progress in electrification: Rural areas have an electrification rate of 3%.
  • Electrification for households close to the grid not sufficiently fast enough: A high proportion of rural communities located relatively close to the existing grid are not attached to the grid.
  • Those connected to the grid can not rely on steady supply: Between 2006 and 2015, SONABELs customer base and individual consumption doubled, but supply is enough only in non-peak periods. Load shedding increased significantly (almost doubled).
  • Few incentive policies targeting especially renewable energies exits, although Burkina Faso will rely on private investments.
  • Existing policies hamper mini-grid development and limit the growth of modern decentralized energy systems.
  • Effectiveness of cooperative-mini-grid-model is questionable.
  • Local cooperatives (COOPELs) face difficulties: volunteers do not have the technical capabilities therfore rely on external technical providers (fermiers in French) to manage the distribution network. Relationships and responsible tasks vary, they are based on contracts or not. Lack of financial capabilities: Most local cooperatives are not financially sustainable and suffer losses; despite financial support and concessional loans provided by FDE.[3]

Additionally, USAID Power Africa lists the following issues among the biggest to face the country's energy sector[4]:

  • No legal or regulatory framework for independent power producers and limited experience with IPPs
  • National utility SONABEL is not a creditworthy off-taker 
  • High cost for new on-grid connections and nascent off-grid sector 

Policy Framework, Laws and Regulations

In Burkina Faso‘s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) there is no specific mention of energy or environment issues. The current version (2009-2011) has chapters on "reduction of pollution" and on "sustainable management of natural resources" without reference to energy issues. The solutions proposed are only dealing with the enlargement of urban street capacities and the maintenance of natural resources for pastoral respectively.

From 2010 inwards, the PRSP format shall be replaced by a "Strategy of accelerated growth that focuses merely exclusively on economic growth relying on the development of some urban economic pools and counting on a "trickle down effect" for the urban poor and the rural areas.

More indicative for further DGIS interventions are the regional development plans and strategies that are mostly considering environmental and energy issues in the sense that they are aiming at a sustainable management to assure provision even for future generations. In its 2008 version, the development plan of the capital‘s region lists the "access to modern energy" as a measure of poverty reduction. According to this, FAFASO has already undertaken joint activities with the Regional Council of the Central (the capital‘s) region to enlarge access to improved stoves to wider population groups, mainly in the semi-rural parts around the capital. Regarding access to biomass, the environmental services have as mission to regulate the access to wood fuel (and to tax any fresh wood cut anyway) even for individual cutting in the villages, but they are too poorly equipped to assume this role. Nevertheless, and as a "heritage" of the 1980s revolutionary period, the control of big scale wood transport is still functional (in large parts of the country: only specially accredited trucks (painted in green and white) are allowed to transport fire-wood and they are still controlled on the overland streets. For the charcoal sector, the government decreed, in 2005, a nationwide stop of artisan production for several months and gave afterwards licenses to some defined production areas. This system seems to work more or less.

ENERGY SECTOR POLICY (2014-2025), 2013
The Energy Sector Policy serves as a reference document for the energy sector in Burkina Faso. This document sets
the energy sector’s national strategies and targets for 2014-2025 including 50% renewable generation by 2025 and
opportunities for solar and biomass technologies.

LAW NO. 053-2012, 2012 (Law No. 053-2012/AN)
This law outlines the general regulation of the electricity sub-sector in Burkina Faso. It provides details about operation and organisation of the first and second segment of the electricity sector. In the first segment, power generation is open to competition while transmission and distribution remains the monopoly of SONABEL. With respect to the second segment, power generation and distribution are liberalised under the supervision of FDE and ARSEL. This 2012 law does not include any specific regulations or references to renewable energy or clean energy mini-grids. However, the
government is currently working on a revision of Burkina Faso’s electricity law.

DECREE NO. 2014-636, 2014 (Decree No. 2014-636/PRES/PM/MME/MEF)
This 2014 decree establishes the framework to issue concession, licensing, authorization and submission contracts for
power installations. This includes defining generation as being open for competition in both the urban and rural segments.[3]

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Institutional Set-up in the Energy Sector

Since the 1970s, Burkina Faso has been one of the leading countries in the sub region with regards to the development and the dissemination of improved stoves. As a result, the country has today a huge experience in terms of technology. A considerable choice of adapted stove types is available. On the other hand, most of the projects of the past have been donor or state driven – they collapsed the moment when the donor retired or state politics changed (as it was the case after the revolution in the 1980s).

This lead to an ambivalent situation: on the one hand there is a kind of institutional setup with a history of involvement of (failed) stove promotion programs. These institutions assume and demand that new stove programs in the country should be forced to be implemented with or through them. At the same time, they do not have the financial and personal capacities to fill this self-assumed role.

On the research and technology side, the "Institute of Research in Applied Sciences and Technologies (IRSAT)", a department of the Ministry of Secondary Schools and Research, has kept its standards and is still the only institution capable to accredit improved stoves and defining stove standards. While IRSAT is continuing to perform well in this respect, it has no capacities (and no ambitions) in stove dissemination.

On the other side, the Ministry of Environment is seeing itself as the agency to be implied in stoves‘ dissemination, eventual assisted by the Ministry of Women‘s Rights. In this, the Ministry of Environment is contested by other governmental departments (e.g. the Ministry of Energy, not only in charge with a World Bank Program for the Dissemination of improved stoves at the moment, but also responsible for the implementation of the national strategy for domestic energies, developed by CILSS-PREDAS). In reality, the Ministry of Environment so far failed to provide evidence about their capacity to successfully lead sustainable stove programs in the past. All strategies relying on the Ministry of Environment for the dissemination of stoves broke down at latest when the donor retired (despite the efforts of the donors to strengthen the Ministry‘s capacities).

The country has been divided in two distribution segments, with distinct regulations and actors. The Rural Electrification Fund (FDE) is responsible for rural electrification programs whereas the national electricity company, SONABEL is responsible for electrifying the peri-urban areas near to the existing grid.[5]

The regulatory agency (ARSE) created in 2007 has the mandate to regulate operators, arbitrate disputes and protect consumer rights. Under a new energy law, ARSE’s powers are supposed to be strengthened including increasing its power over issuance of sector acts, pricing, control and arbitration.[3]

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Other Donor Activities

Most of the dissemination strategies in the past relied on subsidies (with the argument that Burkina‘s poor population could not afford to buy stoves at their real prices) and passed by the Ministry of Environment and several NGOs to spread the stoves. Used to ever new upcoming project, none of these actors was, at the beginning of FAFASO‘s activities in 2005, really willing to adhere to a strategy that directs the use of the project funds rather to the producers and other actors of the private sector than to state or civil society institutions in order to establish subsidy-free supply-demand systems for stoves.

Therefore, FAFASO has since the beginning of its activities in 2006 fully relied on structures in the private sector and followed a commercial approach without involving any of the "traditional stove promoting agencies in the country". This was based on the assumption that the producers will be motivated to participate in the promotion of the stoves as this contributes to their income and on the users readiness to pay for the stoves once they realize the benefit of their use. With the extension of activities in rural areas, FAFASO started in 2008 to give it another try to involve government services. Provincial divisions of the Ministry of Environment were invited to play a role in the training and dissemination process in rural areas. However, the ministry‘s agents failed to deliver at all – even when they have been promised to get paid for this.

With its overall experience (400 000 stoves sold without subsidies and without government structures as intermediates, proved inactivity of stately agents), FAFASO has now managed to deliver the proof that a market based approach without subsidy for the dissemination of improved cook stoves can succeed in Burkina Faso. This has strengthened the position of the project in the negotiation of partnerships with the state actors in favor of a real sustainable approach.

The biggest national actor in the sector is a World Bank Program (PASE), run by Ministry of Energy and officially started in February 2008, launched in October of the same year and having as objective the dissemination of 250.000 stoves within five years. Until end 2012, PASE only disseminated around 5000 stoves (among them, some 2000 produced by FAFASO's producers) ad they launched a study to determine new strategies. By the end of 2013, they concluded contracts with three actors in the sector (Swiss NGO newtree, working in improved 3 stone mud stoves, french NGO Entrepreneur du Monde giving micro credits to buy roumdé stoves and FAFASO) to help them to disseminate some 70 000 ICS until end April 2014.

Main International Actors

The two NGOs mentioned here above are the biggest international actors in the sector in Burkina Faso:

- the Swiss NGO newtree/tiipalga has stove dissemination as a side activity and is merely teaching women to construct improved "3 stone (mud) stoves". They disseminated, since 2008, some 9000 stoves.

- the french NGO "Entrepreneurs du Monde" is working in the Microfinance sector and has developed tools to help poorer populations to achieve LPG and roumde stoves.

SNV has concluded, in 2012, a partnership agreement with FAFASO to cover one of the countries biggest regions (the "Boucle de Mouhoun") with improved stoves for beer brewing. Until the end o 2013 they trained some 20 masons in 3 small towns of the region.

- UNODI has started, in end 2012, a program to disseminate improved stoves for beer brewing in the "Plateau Central", a region near to the capital. Until end of 2013, no dissemination activities have been run, eve if UNODI managed to negotiate micro finance tools for beer brewers willing to built the stove and has organized two training for carbon credit money with the ministry of environment.

Ministry of Environment also tries to take the lead in the sector by having named, in 2013, an official coordinator for the stove sector who is in charge to organize regular sessions of a consultation committee. In addition, attempts of coordination between the Environment and the Energy Ministry can be observed since a reorganization of the government in 2011.

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Other Major Activities in the Country

In Burkina Faso there are four other DGIS programmes dealing mainly with Solar Home Systems or bio fuel (jatropha).

On the BMZ side, several partners can be identified:

  • Having been, during its 2nd phase, part of GTZ ―Decentralization Program, FAFASO has acquired some kinds of experience in the communal sectors and a huge knowledge of communal actors and procedures,
  • Concerning the stoves‘ segment, the KfW component FICOD has been connected for the dissemination of stoves for institutions, e.g. for school canteens,
  • The GTZ ―Health and Human Rights Program is a potential partner also with respect to school canteens, but also for the realization of awareness campaigns on health issues related to stoves,
  • The GTZ ―Agricultural program has a big focus on the transformation and commercialization of agricultural products. They already manifested their interest in integrating improved stoves for professional use (especially the Shea butter cashew stoves still to be conceived by IRSAT) in their production chain.

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Further Information

  • IOB - Impact Evaluation of Improved Cooking Stoves in Burkina Faso
  • The Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs evaluated the impact of improved cooking stoves for domestic use and artisanal beer brewing in two cities in Burkina Faso. In this context, the impact of these stoves on the workload of women or health was found to be negligible, but users spend less on energy and a vast volume of fuel wood is saved each year.
  • USAID Power Africa: Burkina Faso Factsheet 


  1. https://irenanewsroom.org/2016/10/17/renewable-energy-in-burkina-faso-improving-living-conditions-and-alleviating-poverty/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Sampablo, Marcos, Luke Walley, Yuri Lima Handem, and Eugene Ochieng. ‘Mini Grid Market Opportunity Assessment: Burkina Faso. Carbon Trust, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) at the request of the AfDB, April 2017. http://greenminigrid.se4all-africa.org/file/187/download
  4. Power Africa. (2018). Burkina Faso Factsheet. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1860/Burkina_Faso_-_November_2018_Fact_Sheet.pdf
  5. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

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