Burkina Faso is a priority country for Swiss international cooperation. Trade between the two countries, which have maintained diplomatic relations since 1961, was for a long time modest but increased dramatically in 2020. Burkina Faso has faced an unprecedented security crisis since 2014.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Burkina Faso
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland recognised Burkina Faso's independence on 5 August 1960 and established diplomatic relations with the country in 1961. Since then, the two countries have concluded agreements on trade, investment protection, technical cooperation and budgetary aid.
Trade between Switzerland and Burkina Faso increased by almost 80% in 2020 compared to 2019. Burkina Faso has thus become Switzerland's leading trade partner in Africa, with a trade volume of CHF 3 billion, consisting almost exclusively of the Swiss import of Burkinabe gold (99.9% of Swiss imports). Switzerland exported CHF 6 million worth of products, mainly pharmaceuticals, to Burkina Faso.
Cooperation in education
Basic education and vocational skills development is one of the focal points of Swiss development cooperation in Burkina Faso.
Researchers and artists from Burkina Faso can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships
Development cooperation, humanitarian aid and security
Burkina Faso has been a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) since 1976. SDC programmes are primarily focused on the northern, central-western and eastern regions of the country. The SDC's basic education and vocational skills development programme covers the whole country through national financing mechanisms. The SDC's Global Programme Migration and Development carries out a range of activities in Burkina Faso related to mobility and migration.
In response to the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso since 2014 as a consequence of the spread of violent extremism in West Africa, Switzerland is providing support through a regional programme on the prevention of violent extremism.
Since 1994, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has provided budgetary aid and other forms of economic assistance. The country also receives various forms of humanitarian and food aid directly or through NGOs on an ongoing or as-needed basis.
The SDC and SECO have pledged a total of CHF 156.5 million to Burkina Faso for 2021–25. Burkina Faso is also the country with the largest number of cooperation projects implemented by Swiss cantons and communes.
Development cooperation provides regular support for cultural activities.
Swiss nationals in Burkina Faso
In 2020, 82 Swiss nationals were living in Burkina Faso and 345 Burkinabe nationals were living in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) as an independent state on 5 August 1960. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1961. In 1970, Switzerland opened a consular agency in the capital Ouagadougou, which was incorporated into an office for cooperation and consular affairs that was opened in 1974.
In 1969, Switzerland and Burkina Faso signed an agreement on trade, investment protection and technical cooperation. Agreements on technical cooperation and budgetary aid were signed in 1978, 2006 and 2009.