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Understanding Critical Junctures That Build Inclusive Institutions; Burkina Faso.

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Political transitions have been a difficult issue in sub-Saharan Africa, African leaders who have tried to extend their rule by eliminating term limits have generally succeeded in recentyears. That’s especially true when, like Compaoré, they enjoy control over the legislature. But things went

Differently in Burkina Faso: does this have wider implications in Africa?


Ken Opalo, A Stanford PhD candidate.

Critical junctures, simply explain critical or important moments in time and history of nations that have the capacity to decipher, if nations get on the path of prosperity, sustainable development and more prosperity, or on a path of higher rates of poverty, greater inequality and  economic stagnation, regardless of whatsoever high rates of growth  are been recorded.

From Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Congo DRC, Gabon, Tanzania, Uganda, Burkinafaso and a host of others, Africa has experienced dispensations of leaderswho have exercise power for too long, created extractive institutions and empowered them through vicious circles.

More importantly, every nation desires to operate political and socio-economic inclusivity, one that assures quality growth and shared prosperity for all. The process through which nations are  involved in navigating from extractive to inclusiveness are characterized in events (critical junctures) which could be smooth, from  mass  empowerment programs, to encouraging more civic participation; or rough,from setting up coalitions to overthrow governments ,mass protests,violence or even war.

For most African nations,the later has been the order of the day,when citizens realize  that they can no longer continue with a nature of governance that only favors a few, and the pain, hardship, poverty and inequality that follows.

The Burkina Faso story is no exception.  After she had experienced and endured twenty seven years of humiliating rule from President Blaise Compaoré, the populace took to the streets in a mass protest when Compaoré made a decision and announced in June to run for another term as president.

UnderBurkina Faso’s constitution, he was term-limited: Compaoréalso wanted to amend the constitution to eliminate term limits altogether (a move that empowers extractive institutions). The legislature, were to debate that change, when her populace angrily rose up in protest. Basically they were protesting Compaoré’s effort to get the legislature to end term limits for him, but this was more of a protest against major issues that sprang up, due to the extractive nature of institutions created, such as extreme poverty, corruption, inequality, and a lack ofdemocracy.

The situation got to a crisis point during a rally and much later, the protestors stormed the state television channel and had literally setfire to the country’s parliament.

The main demand is an end to one-party rule, and the creation of a real, democratic government in Burkina Faso. The military supported the protesters and have taken over power announcing an interim transitional government nominally aimed at moving towardreal constitutional rule.

The big question at this critical juncture is this;

  • Will Burkina Fasoend up more democratic or simply be governedby a different form of autocracy?
  • Will her current or subsequent government choose to embrace inclusiveness in her new era or, would she step in the shoes of past leaders to reawake, and empower extractive institutions?

I hope Burkina Faso, understands the importance of this critical juncture in her economic history.

More importantly, I suggest a few ways, through which Burkina Faso could get on a path to inclusivity.

  • She must revisit her constitution,to ensure all provisions therein are aimed at equity,justice and upholding the rule of law,
  • The rule of law itself must be supreme.
  • Create the macroeconomic framework that will be beneficial to both the high, middle and low class in the society, localize growth and development theories and create home grown strategies to tackle challenges when the need arises.
  • There should be an independence of judiciary, independence of her media and the autonomy of her central bank (Virtuous circles that empower inclusive institutions).
  • Encourage at least two-party system  and kick start market reforms that would be beneficial to all, regardless of ethnic, religious groups and gender.
  • Strive for honesty,transparency,integrity, accountability, professionalism,excellence and a willingness to deliver in her public sector,this would be necessary to help open up her economy to foreign direct investments, and equally challenge the private sector to continually strive for effectiveness.

This and many more will be required to set Burkina Faso on a path to shared prosperity.



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CRO – Project Change Initiative A 21st Century Leadership, Organizational and Economic Development Strategist For comments, please visit Obele Jesuite on facebook, on twitter, gospel_obele@yahoo.com. For email: or contact 08130070991.

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