Having travelled a good 2,500 miles, it was surprising to find myself surrounded by familiar faces at the SAM. Everywhere I looked, there were people I recognised from Luxembourg, from Ministers, to colleagues from the House of Microfinance.
It might be surprising to find that there are such strong ties between the two landlocked countries on different continents. After all, the nations are very different indeed. To highlight just a few of the differences:
- While Luxembourg’s population has a median age of 39, the median age in Burkina Faso is just 17 (half of the population are children). Finding opportunities for all these young people will be critical to the country’s future success.
- Luxembourg’s annual GDP per capita is USD 114,340 – we have all heard that cross border workers may distort this, but nonetheless it is shocking that this is over 150 times bigger than Burkina Faso’s GDP of USD 731.
- Increasingly peace is a key question in Burkina Faso. We have heard that MFIs operating in Burkina Faso are struggling in the North and East of the country, where insurgency is preventing even simple things, like school attendance and food delivery. This contrasts sharply with the conditions we find in Luxembourg (even if Luxembourg doesn’t feature on the Global Peace Index)
- Given the intensification in the challenges in Burkina Faso, it is difficult to have current data on migration. Nonetheless it is clear that migration is on the rise and far exceeds the 150k people per year registered early in this century. This does not include the displaced people within the country. Luxembourg, on the other hand, is a country of migrants- with 45% of the population having international origins.
So what does Luxembourg do in Burkina Faso? Well coming from LMDF, I can’t help but mention our work with ACEP Burkina Faso and the micro-entrepreneurs they finance. But this is just one element. Luxembourg has supported education, healthcare and environmental initiatives. Coming over here, it is clear that the links between the two countries are strong and that there is a lot that the two countries can learn from each other going forward.