Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, has recently terminated a contract with a French company, causing quite a stir in diplomatic circles.
The contract in question pertained to the operation of Donsin airport and was signed in October 2021, with a duration of thirty years. However, the transitional government in Burkina Faso, which assumed power in September 2022, has now decided to terminate this agreement.
The decision to terminate the contract was made during a Council of Ministers meeting held on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023. The Ministry of Transport presented its case for terminating the agreement, citing numerous breaches of the contract by the French company, Meridiam/Marseille. The government’s main argument against the company was its failure to fulfil its financial obligations towards the airport’s development.
According to the Ministry of Transport, the private partner was expected to operate and maintain the airport for thirty years before eventually handing it over to the state. However, the government found the company’s financial contribution to be “derisory” and considered it unacceptable. Transport Minister Roland Somda emphasised that the company had not lived up to its responsibilities and therefore, the termination of the contract was justified.
This move by the transitional government is seen as a bold step towards safeguarding the country’s interests and ensuring a fair and equitable partnership between Burkina Faso and foreign companies. It highlights the government’s commitment to prioritising the welfare of its citizens and ensuring that foreign entities abide by their contractual obligations.
The termination of the contract with the French company has attracted attention from international observers, who see it as a potential strain on diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France.
However, the transitional government has made it clear that this decision was taken purely based on the company’s failure to fulfil its obligations and not as a dig at France or its businesses.
The government has expressed its concerns over the clauses of an agreement that it believes are in conflict with both national and international civil aviation regulations. According to Mr. Somda, the financial model guarantee provided in the agreement does not ensure the sustainability of civil aviation’s sovereign bodies.
The transitional authorities, however, have reassured the public that they are actively exploring alternative financing models with other partners to protect the interests of the State. They maintain that these alternatives will provide credible solutions and serve the best interests of the country.
The controversial contract was initially signed by the ousted government of President Rock Kabore in October 2021. The agreement, which spans a period of 30 years, involves the French group Meridiam/Marseille.
However, the ‘Collectif des Syndicats de l’Aéronautique Civile’ has strongly criticised the agreement. They argue that it prioritises the interests of the French group at the expense of national sovereignty and the vital concerns of the aeronautical community. They believe that this concession agreement has failed to address crucial issues related to state security.
In light of these concerns, Captain Ibrahim Traore has announced the suspension of the concession agreement for the Ouagadougou-Donsin International Airport. Additionally, there will be a thorough review of the existing regulatory texts governing the agreement.
The government’s stance suggests that it is committed to safeguarding the interests of the state and ensuring compliance with national and international civil aviation regulations. This highlights the government’s dedication to promoting transparency, accountability, and the overall welfare of the country.
Moving forward, the government’s focus will be on finding sustainable financing models that prioritise the nation’s interests. Through collaboration with other partners, they aim to develop a financial framework that bolsters the long-term viability of civil aviation’s sovereign bodies, while simultaneously upholding national security concerns.