Foreign Minister Ouedrago of Burkina Faso: Donating aid is a colonial concept

Burkina Faso's future looks bright, said Burkina Faso's Foregn Minister Youssouf Ouedrago during his two-day visit to Finland. "We have new visions, new commitment and a new democracy", he said at a press meeting in Helsinki on Thursday, 22 May.

Talking about donating aid can be construed as colonialistic, Ouedrago thinks. Nowadays we seek partners, he said but admitted that development aid still plays a major role in various African countries and on the continent at large and welcomed the contribution of Finland. Concrete problems need concrete solutions, Ouedrago added.

"Burkina Faso has found new ways to combat poverty. In order to fulfil our visions we need stability and further democratisation. Support for these goals will make things happen."

Ouedrago is convinced that the dialogue introduced by the newly founded African Union will promote the ability to solve problems and uphold democracy. According to Ouedrago, the integration of the continent will lead Africa to a more political and ambitious direction. The common aim is that every African could live and work in peace which in term would diminish poverty.

"Burkina Faso has played an active role in this development. Africans have to unite forces in order to become a true partner in the world community as we are now a bit of outsiders. That will allow us to be competitive in international trade."

Ouedrago's visit was hosted by Foreign Trade and Development Minister Paula Lehtomäki. Their discussions focused on bilateral relations between Finland and Burkina Faso, interaction between the European Union and Africa and the regional conflicts in Africa. Ouedrago was also scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and to pay a visit to the Finnish Parliament where he was briefed on the Finnish parliamentary system.

Situated in Western Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world with health problems and insufficient food production caused by soil impoverishment and water shortage. As regulated by the government, Finland has carried out development cooperation projects with Burkina Faso, and cooperation is likely to continue as soon as the results and experiences of the test period have been evaluated. At present two intergovernmental projects, two multilateral regional projects and two projects guided by Finnish civil organisations are included in cooperation.