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Living in Ouagadougou

A comprehensive guide about living well in Ouagadougou

Ouagadougou isn’t just fun to say, it’s a fun place to be. The capital city of Burkina Faso has not yet been discovered by tourists, so expats living in Ouagadougou (or ‘Ouaga’ to the locals) can feel as though they’re in on a great secret. Read on for info on transportation, culture and security.

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Life in Ouagadougou

The city is a hub of West African music, art and sports, surrounded by some of the region’s most beautiful national parks. To live in Ouagadougou is to know West Africa at a truly granular level. 

Transportation in Ouagadougou

Almost everyone in Ouagadougou has a motorbike, but driving is best left to more experienced expats who understand the unspoken rules of the road.

Little green buses offer public transport to expats and locals – although novice expatriates can expect to be charged a little more than the going rate. These buses tend to be cheap and readily available, and will drop you off at any location you wish.

The city’s bus station offers long-distance services to other parts of Burkina Faso, as well as cities in Mali, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Niger. A limited train service connects Ouagadougou with the Ivory Coast, but the journey time will very much depend on the weather and the state of the track. 

Culture and Leisure 

Culture is everywhere in Ouagadougou. For a brief introduction to the cultural history of Burkina Faso, visit one of the city’s many museums, including the Maison du Peuple andthe National Museum of Music. For music lovers, the De Niro jazz bar is not to be missed.

Sport is a huge part of life in Ouagadougou, so soccer fans will feel right at home. Any expanse of land will be used for an impromptu football match at some stage, and anyone is welcome to join in. The national soccer team trains at the Stade du 4-Aout, and matches are well attended by the local fan base.

The city is also known for its many cultural festivals, including the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (the biggest film and television festival in Africa), the Pan-African Music Festival, and the International Theatre and Marionette Festival. 

Safety and Security in Ouagadougou

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and poverty is rife in the city center. Even seasoned expats are advised to avoid the poorest areas of the city after dark, as muggings are not uncommon. 

In the central markets, it is wise to keep a close handle on your bags, and carry very little cash with you. 

Many expats live the outskirts of the city center. These tend to be manned by security guards and accessed by gates, as a means of keeping wild animals at bay and offering extra protection to expat families.

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Updated on: August 03, 2015
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