By Sophie Ogden, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
It is widely accepted that in order to attract foreign investors, a country needs a minimum of peace and stability.* As the President of Burkina Faso, Mr. Blaise Compaoré stated in his speech, any country seeks to always improve itself and to always further develop. Development requires economic growth (in the most used economic models), which itself requires investments, and new investments need a welcoming environment, especially when resources are scarce. On top of that, there exists strong competition to exploit/utilize the available resources in a sustainable and efficient way and this competition also exists between countries.
With that regard, the President stressed the importance of “preventative diplomacy”. Politicians and religious leaders have a responsibility in maintaining peace and stability. At any time dialogue is a key method to continue to live in harmony in a country and with other countries. In addition, when a conflict arises in Africa, the first actors should be Africans themselves, according to Mr Blaise Compaoré. The International Community shall help and assist the continent while it lacks the necessary resources. Nevertheless taking positions, being an African government or an International Country or agency, will have huge consequences. In that sense, it is true Africans should deal with their own business and conflicts; on the other hand the ultimate goal is to maintain peace. For each situation, a new balance must be found on how much one can intervene in order to achieve the main purpose of peace. Peace is a broad word and does not mean you have to agree with another community or group. Yet it still includes tolerance towards another culture.
Coming back to developing a country, and thereby to attract (foreign) investors, stability is a master word. When Burkina Faso last year saw the arrival of 60,000 Malian refugees, the government had the responsibility to manage this urgent situation and to make sure no new conflicts came up. Having a constitution, institutions and controlling institutions is insufficient. Concrete actions must be taken. It has been about 25 years since the actual president is in power. In 2015 the constitution prevents him from running for candidacy again. Nevertheless he has the power to modify the constitution to allow him a new mandate. While a lot of arguments may push him in staying, foreign investors will definitively look closely at the next election and whether he is going to stay as a president.
Every day a land may face a natural catastrophe, incoming refugees, etc. What really matters is how the government and mostly how the inhabitants react to it with their available resources but also how they will welcome foreign help and how they will communicate. So hearing a head of state talking about future perspectives is reassuring but in the end actual actions is what counts. In Europe, the media did not talk much about the 2011 riots and opinions greatly differ on the matter.
*Bearing that in mind, rating agencies were created to assess the investment risks of countries. This short text does not focus on rating agencies and lately, their controversies. However it emphasizes how much political stability, peace and continuous development are important in the eyes of investors.
Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy