Faced with the rise in urban delinquency and jihadist violence, Burkina Faso will install 900 video surveillance cameras in the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Cutting-edge technology for one of the poorest countries in the world.
Called Smart Burkina, this video protection system proposed by China will be deployed by groups of three cameras on 220 sites in the Burkinabè capital and in Bobo-Dioulasso. 150 kilometers of fiber optic network will be built to interconnect the different sites.
While some denounce “a technological illusion” and instead propose to rely on “human resources”, the Minister of Security, Maxime Koné, defended “the triple impact” video protection: in terms of deterrence, identification of facts and identification of their perpetrators. It constitutes, according to him, “a real weapon capable of improving the work of the security services while constituting a mine of evidence for the judicial administration.” It must incidentally “help solve the problems of traffic accidents”.
“The objective is to give the security forces the means to be able to detect criminogenic zones and to follow the delinquents in order to act more quickly”Christophe Dabiré, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso
Financed by a loan from China, Smart Burkina will cost nearly 52 billion CFA Francs (around 80 million euros). It will be implemented by Chinese companies Huawei and China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC).
Aware “concerns about the risks of invasion of the privacy of citizens through the video surveillance system”, the Prime Minister assured “that this new security device has for ultimate objective to protect and not to monitor, to secure and not to spy”.
Faced with the fear of civil society on the establishment “of a Chinese-style surveillance company”, the Chinese ambassador to Burkina, Li Jian, also wanted to reassure: “Once the project is completed, the Burkinabè party, as the sole beneficiary, will independently and autonomously manage all the data and all the installations resulting from this project.”
Several thousand people marched on July 3, 2021 in several cities across the country to protest against growing insecurity. Ouagadougou, the capital, has been hit three times by jihadist attacks since 2016, with a total death toll of nearly 60. The last attack, in March 2018, devastated the General Staff of the armies, in the city center.
Burkina Faso is facing jihadist violence that has left more than 1,500 dead and forced nearly 1.5 million people to flee their homes since 2015.