The Republic of Burundi
The Republic of Burundi is located in the Great Lakes region of East-Central Africa and shares borders with Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. It covers an area of 10,745 square miles and is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population exceeding only 10 million (approximately half of whom are aged 14 or less). The majority of Burundians live in rural areas. Bujumbura is the capital and main port of Burundi. As of 2005, the President is Pierre Nkurunziza.
Burundi claimed independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962, and the name of the country was legally changed from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. On September 18 of the same year, the state also joined the United Nations.
The country is divided into 18 provinces. The major ones include, Bujumbura, Gitega, Ngozi and Rumonge. The political system of Burundi is that of a presidential representative democratic republic, based upon a multi-party state. There are currently 43 registered parties in the country. The President of Burundi is both the head of state and head of government.
Given Burundi’s equatorial climate and large pastures of land, it’s largest industry is by far agriculture, which contributed to 58% of the country’s GDP in 2007. About 90% of the population is dependent on subsistence farming. Coffee, tea and sugar are the largest sources of revenue, but other agricultural products include cotton, maize, bananas, beef, milk and sweet potatoes.
The country has a range of natural resources including uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper and platinum. Besides agriculture, other industries include public works construction, food processing, and light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes and soap. The Burundian Franc (BIF) is the country’s currency.
Burundi’s culture consists a mixture of local traditions and customs adopted from neighboring countries. Drumming is an important element of the Burundian cultural heritage, and is often accompanied with dance. Some famous Burundian dances include the drums , umutsibo, agasimbo, etc. Burundian artisans are also known for their intricate handmade crafts such as baskets, masks, statues, and pottery.
The two most popular sports in the country are basketball and football. The official languages of Burundi are French and Kurundi, but Swahili is also widely spoken across the country. An estimated 75% of the country’s population is Christian, 20% subscribe to indigenous religious beliefs and the remaining 5% are Muslim. The largest holiday celebrated in the country is Christmas, but as of 2005, Eid ul-Fitr (an Islamic holiday) is also a public holiday.
Burundi is sub-divided into 17 provinces and 129 communes. The administrative provinces are each named according to their respective capitals and include the following communes:
To the north-West of Burundi, on the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika lies its bustling capital Bujumbura, the economic and administrative center of the country. Recent statistics provided by the United Nations put Bujumbura´s population at 605, 000 in 2011.
Formally known as Usumbura, the city was renamed following independence from Belgium in 1962. As Bujumbura lies by the biggest lake in Burundi, the city houses the main port, which is used to ship the country’s principal exports. The centre of activity of Burundi, Bujumbura has several universities, an airport, museums and a national stadium among others.
Burundi shares a border with Tanzania (451 km) to its East, the Democratic Republic of Congo (233 km) to its West, and Rwanda (290 km) to its North.
Burundi is one of the very few African countries with a sense of “linguistic homogeneity.” Its people all speak the same national language: Kirundi. French is the first foreign language and English is progressively becoming more important. Swahili is also spoken in urban areas and along the Tanganika Lake.
The vast majority of Burundi citizens are Christian (75%), around 20% Burundians follow African religions with a few percent being Muslim. The major ethnic groups are Hutu (84%), Tutsi (14%) and Twa (1%).
Burundi’s culture is based on local traditions and the influence of neighboring countries. The culture of Burundi includes mainly songs, dances, stories and legends. Poetry is sometimes recited during social gatherings.
The shepherds have their own pastoral songs which they sing at the end of the day when leading the animals back from the pastures; and in the home the elders tell the young generation stories and legends relating the life of their ancestors. Art in Burundi is extremely varied. Crafts are an important art form in Burundi. Basket weaving is a popular craft for Burundian artisans. Other crafts such as masks, shields, statues and pottery are made in Burundi.
Drums play a big part in the music of most African countries, but in Burundi they have an almost spiritual meaning. The world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundi, who have performed for over forty years, are noted for traditional drumming using the karyenda, amashako, ibishikiso, and ikiranya drums. Dance often accompanies drumming performance, which is frequently seen in celebrations and family gatherings.
Staple foods in Burundi are various potatoes, bananas, beans, and sometimes fish.
The Burundian Franc (BIF) is the country’s currency.
The core of Burundi’s economy is agriculture. The main agricultural products are coffee, tea, sugar, cotton and food crops. Coffee is the country’s first resource and represents 80% of all exportations. 90% of Burundi’s population depends on this agriculture. Agriculture accounts for approximately 30% of the country’s GDP.
Between 1990 and 1999 the labor force increased by 2 million people. Women make up for half of this labor force.
Little industry exists except the processing of agricultural exports. However, potential wealth in petroleum, nickel, copper and other natural resources is being explored.
Other industries include public works construction, food processing, and light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes and soap.
Burundi has recently invested in tourism and 3000 visitors came to Burundi in 2012.
Burundi’s main export partners are Germany, Pakistan, Belgium, Sweden, Rwanda, France and China. Its main import partners are Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Belgium, France, Uganda, Germany, India and Pakistan.
The macro-economic situation is moving forward. The economic growth reached +4,2% in 2011, an increase from 2010 (+3,8%).
Burundi has also made substantial progress in the implementation of structural reforms in the management of public finance and measures to protect the Central Bank and the Treasury. Within a strategy of poverty reduction, extra resources were provided for agriculture, water, rural infrastructure, health and education in the 2011 budget.
Burundi has improved its Human Development Index. Significant social progress has been made through the implementation of a policy of free education and health provision.
Burundi joined the East African Community, which should boost Burundi’s regional trade ties.
Burundi is a multi-party Republic. The President is the head of state, as well as head of government. The executive power belongs to the government and the two chambers of Parliament (the Senate and the National Assembly) share the legislative power with the government.
In the past last years, the political landscape has been dominated by the civil war- which broke out in 1993-, the long peace process following the war, and the democratic transition.
In November 1995, the presidents of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and former Zaire started a regional initiative to discuss the peace process in Burundi. This was initiated by Julius Nyerere, the former Tanzanian president.
Burundi Peace Process Negotiations have been taking place for four years in Arusha, Tanzania, and Pretoria, South Africa, between all the Burundi parties and political movements in an effort to put an end to violence and find a new peace formula for all. The peace initiative led to the signing of the Arusha Peace and reconciliation agreement on August 28th, 2000. This designed a transitional power sharing arrangement between the signatories to this agreement.
The current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader in the Forces for the Defense of Democracy, was elected on the 19th of August 2005. President Nkurunziza is the first president to be elected democratically since the beginning of the civil war.
Since his election, the president has put into place a government integrating other political parties as well as a strong representation of women (7 out of 21 ministers are women). One of the government’s first goals is to eradicate corruption within the country. This effort is also backed by the Burundi civil society and media which have each received moderate ratings for their contributions to fighting corruption.
The president is elected by the people and names the two vice-presidents who form, with the Council of Ministers, the executive power.
The National Assembly is composed of 118 members elected for 5 years. The Senate has 49 members also elected for 5 years. Parties were usually based on ethnic background but since the new constitution has come into place, the ethnic reference is prohibited.
Les relations entre le Burundi et la Fédération de Russie datent de 1962 et n’ont jamais cessé de s’intensifier. Ainsi, le 13 mai 2016, le Burundi et la Russie ont tenu leurs consultations bilatérales dans la capitale burundaise. La délégation russe était conduite par son Excellence Mikhaïl Bogdanov, vice-ministre des Affaires Etrangères en charge de l’Afrique et du Moyen Orient. Au cours de cette visite le Ministre russe a eu des entretiens avec les plus hautes autorités du Burundi.
Les deux parties ont noté avec plaisir l’évolution positive de la situation au Burundi et se sont convenues de travailler de concert pour garantir la paix et la sécurité au Burundi et dans la région. La partie burundaise s’est félicitée de la proximité entre le Burundi et la Russie sur les questions d’intérêt commun et la position ferme et constante de la Russie sur la situation au Burundi chaque fois que le Burundi est évoqué au sein du Conseil de Sécurité et dans d’autres fora internationaux.
Le Gouvernement du Burundi a exprimé ses remerciements a la partie russe et a exhorte le Gouvernement russe à continuer à soutenir le Burundi surtout dans ces moments où des divergences existent entre le Burundi et certains de ses partenaires occidentaux. Le Gouvernement du Burundi a réaffirmé son engagement à soutenir les candidatures russes dans les organismes internationaux et à harmoniser les points de vue avec celles de la Russie sur des questions internationales.
Les secteurs de coopération entre le Burundi et la Russie incluent l’éducation, la sécurité et le domaine de la formation. Depuis le début de la coopération entre le Burundi, la Russie a déjà formé plus de 4000 Burundais. La Russie a octroyé 20 bourses d’études aux jeunes Burundais et 35 bourses d’études aux militaires burundais et le nombre de boursiers burundais devrait aller croissant.
Les deux parties ont convenu de mettre en place un cadre légal de protection des investissements et un projet de partenariat entre la Banque de la République du Burundi et Gazprom-bank a déjà été signé. L’académie diplomatique de Moscou devrait recevoir des cadres du Ministère burundais des Relations Extérieures et de la Coopération pour une formation d‘apprentissage.
Les deux pays ont exprimé le souhait de conclure un accords de suppression de visa pour les détenteurs des passeports diplomatiques et service.
Burundi has been involved, for more than 20 years, in economic reforms with the help of the Bretton Woods institutions. However, the positive results which were becoming more and more significant were harmed by the 1993 crisis. Although the crisis persisted, the economic reforms were curried on with the help through a minimum humanitarian assistance by the World Bank, and few other partners.
To attract both national and foreign direct investments, Burundi has reviewed its code of investments in most of its main core. The procedures of enterprise approval as a priority enterprise have been simplified. Furthermore, some measures of the investment code have been reviewed in function of the evolution of the foreign exchange policy change which has been simplified.
It is also the concern of simplifying the approval and adaptation procedures to the new exchange policy that has motivated the promulgation of the law nº1/15 of 31 July 200 modifying the statutory order nº1/30 of 31 august 1992 related to the creation of a free trade Area Regime in Burundi.
- Burundi Free Trade Regime/Free Zone
- Investments code
- Trade code
- Fiscal code
- Law on insolvency and promotion of enterprises/Dispositions générales du code des Sociétés publiques et privées.
Burundi has adopted the trade liberalization policy specially by abolishing quantitative restrictions to imports, by instituting the freedom of fixing prices and by observing the right to negotiate with the private sector the price structure of a very limited number of strategic products for the national economy in respect of WTO and COMESA rules and regulations. This is specially the case for oil products and sugar.
In the banking sector, the State has been oriented since some years towards the free exercise of this activity and towards a progressive disengagement in the social capital of banks. This policy has favored the creation of many new banking to the great benefit of customers.
The monetary authority applies a rigid monetary policy to sustain a weak inflation rate. It relies mainly on the target of the growth of the money through the imposition of upper limits refinancing to the financial institutions. The refinancing interest rate is periodically adjusted by considering the underlying inflation rate.
The government gives also a lot of importance to the abolition of the difference which persists between the official change rate and the rate in the parallel or informal market which is a serious threat to the efficient affectation of currencies. In the short term the monetary authority intensifies its efforts for improving the operation of the exchange market. With this respect, it is fortunate to note that the unification policy of the exchange rates has already led to a reduction between the two rates which went from 30% to 17%. In order to reduce more this gap, the Government of Burundi has started to liberalize completely the exchange policy particularly through the authorization of free opening of the “private forex bureaux.”
All the products are in fact eligible to importation except the legal prohibitions and there is no required deposit before importation. The financial transfers such as rental revenues, education and jobs’ bonus, traveling fees, foreigners’ economies done before leaving the country are completely liberalized.
Moreover, the monetary authority is determined to maintain the floating exchange rate system which would lead to fluctuation of the exchange rates according to the evolution of the supply and demand of currencies. It is in this context that the monetary authority has adopted a dynamic approach in its management of the market for currency auction installed in June 2000. To facilitate the commercial banks operations, the obligation of currencies transferring is not more applicable to non traditional experts while the obligation of currencies retrocession applied to traditional exportations (cotton, tea and coffee), will be reduced fro 70% to 50% by the end of December 2003.
With the support of the Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the government has adopted a transparency policy in its program of modernization of the public finance management and the means of its implementation.
The classification of public expenses per nature has been revised in order to facilitate the move from the expenditures based accounting to the public accounting. The inventory of the state’s arrears and those due to the state have allowed a better allocation of resources affected to the internal and external debt service.
The introduction of the new procedures of the budget implementation allowed a better follow-up for all the implementation phases as well as the comparison between the administrative and the general accounting. Finally the execution of the State’s budget will be soon audited by the revenue Court for which the project of its creation is in the National Assembly for adoption.
In order to improve the efficiency of customs’ administration and to increase its output, Burundi has decided to reduce the rates of customs duties at importation. The tariff peaks have been eliminated to favor the moderate rate of 40% which will be the highest rate.
In addition, the tariff lines have been reduced to only four (10-12-15-40). Furthermore, taking into account the COMESA environment, Burundi has adopted the COMESA nomenclature based on the Harmonized System (HS) 1996 version and is prepared for the application of tariff zero system in 2004 for all the products from the COMESA Region as well as the application of external common tariffs.
The on-going fiscal reforms aim at the modernization and simplifying of the legislation in order to increase the efficiency of the fiscal administration and to take into account the commitments made in the context of COMESA. For this effect, the revision of the general tax code and duties is in progress and should let come out a reduction of the imposition rates and the replacement of the Transaction Tax by Tax on the value Added.
Finally, the setting-up of the unique identification to make an inventory of all the taxpayers should allow a broadening of a tax base by a better imposition up to the informal sector. This action should be accompanied by an elaboration of a fiscal procedures’ box for the taxpayers.
Since 1986, the government has adopted a program of disengagement in the public investment to the advantage of private initiatives. The program continues with the enterprises that remain, and that are, generally, considered as investments with big capitals and therefore difficult to privatize because of the internal weak savings.
However, it seems that the sector of services is easier to privatize than the industrial sector, probably because of its profitability which is much higher and without competition. The Interministerial Committee of Privatization (ICP) and the Service in chargé of Public enterprises (SPE) have already established a program of disengagement of the State in all sectors.
The policy of the private sector development has been initiated with the beginning of the structural adjustment program of which it is one of the components. This policy which was backed by the Breton Woods institutions and the UNDP is made of two main elements including the public enterprise privatization policy and the private sector promotion.
Actually many public enterprises have been either privatized or liquidated. They are no more a burden for the public treasury. This policy will continue until the total withdrawal of the government in the profit oriented enterprise management. Concerning the private sector promotion, many structures have been created at this end and many studies have been carried out to promote the sector.
Many research studies have been made by the Policy Coordination Unit for the Development of the private Sector (PCUDPS) and have given prominence to the need of boosting the commercial and industrial activities sin modernizing the production tools and in exploiting some boosting channels for exports. The Government is preparing on the basis of these results an action plan to be integrated in the Strategic Plan for poverty alleviation.
The elaboration process of Interim Strategic Plan of Poverty alleviation (ISPPA) has been started in July 2000. Its implementation has begun in 2003 by the integration of priority axes in the Finances Act of 2003, as well as in the projects and programs supported by sponsors. Again, the weight of social expenses has increased from a GDP (Gross Domestic Products) of 4.3% in 2002 to 5.3% in 2003. Their part will continue to increase for some time in order to achieve the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Poverty alleviation (SPPA).
With the help of the World Bank, the Government has initiated a review exercise of public expenses since 2002. This exercise will be realized periodically in order to constantly rationalize the affection system of the public resources according to the priorities of the SPPA and its Social Program of Urgency (SPU) in order to improve the effectiveness and the expense profit, to the profit of Poverty Alleviation. In this context, the Government is setting up an automatic mechanism to follow up the public expenses in general and the social expenses in particular (tracking). Today, the allocation for foreign aid is based on the priorities of SPPA.
In the short term (2003-2006), Burundi has convened with the IMF an Economic and Financial Program for the Structural economic cooperation which will be financially supported by a Facility for Poverty Alleviation and Growth (FPAG). This program will enable the opening up of more broaden concessionary financings to other donors and to facilitate the mobilization of promised aids during the 2 last table Rounds (Paris, Geneva I and II).
The aimed objectives for the next program are:
- To boost the growth rate to about 5%;
- To increase the public expenses reserved to the health and education to the GDP of 5,3% in 2003, of 6% in 2004 and of 7% in 2006;
- To lower the inflation annual rate to 4,5%;
- To maintain the change reserves at around 4 months of importations of none factor goods and services;
- To maintain the deficit of the external current account to a level that can be financed by high confessionals donations and loans;
- To sensibly reduced the outstanding discounted and the ratios of the debt service.
The following steps, Burundi will pursue the actions bellow:
Find a consensual arrangement on the outstanding and the African Bank for the Development (ABD) and the African Fund for the Development (AFD) current expiration date; this arrangement will include the implementation of payments when due and the discussions with the ABD the restructuring of pocketbook and the programming of the outstanding so as the financial flux become again positive in favor to Burundi;
To make a preparatory technical work on the necessary debt data at the initiative of Poor Countries Heavily in Debt (PCHD) and negotiate nearby the partners so that Burundi gets to the decision point since the adoption of Facility for Poverty alleviation and Growth (FPAG) by the IMF Board.
The burundian economy is mainly grounded on agriculture. Statistic estimates indicate that 90% of the population relies on agriculture combined with livestock for the livelihood. There are two types of crops cultivated: Food crops (beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, maize and sorghum) and cash crops (coffee, tea, cotton and quinquina).
Agriculture generates value-added estimated at about 58% of gross domestic product and produces most the foreign exchange coming into the country. It should be noted that coffee (Arabica and Robusta accounts for nearly 90% of the country’s export earnings and that plantations remain, for the most part village enterprises. The tea produced in Burundi is high quality. The tea crop contributes to poverty alleviation in Burundi because 95% of its production is exported. Burundi plans to increase the tea production by privatizing some complexes of production and by increasing the area of cultivation.
Cotton constitutes the third traditional produce for export. Burundi cotton is a highly appreciated produce because of its quality. Burundi plans to increase the export offer by extending its growing area to the Imbo and Moso regions. The main food crops are: maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, banana, beans, cassava, taro, palm oil, meat, etc.
Burundi is boarding the Lake Tanganyika which is known in the world to be a lake containing a lot of fish of different varieties. The national production is estimated to 15,000 tones. The artisan fishing contributes to 90% and the development of the industrial fishing should enable the country to have an exportable surplus.
The identified products for export are the frozen and smoked fishes, the ornamental alive fishes and the crabs. The fishes know as “INDAGALA” are the unique species found only in the Lake Tanganyika, and this offers a considerable advantage for export.
In the past, the cow was less an animal than an institution; cattle were not regarded from the utilitarian angle, as a factor in the economy but as status symbol. The size of the herd was an index of the individual’s wealth and social status. Livestock rearing is not well integrated into farming and remains essentially extensive in nature. At the present time, research is proceeding with strategies for reconstituting livestock herbs and the genetic improvement of animal breeds.
An integrated herd reconstitution program will be established, and will include highly prolific, short-cycle small livestock that will yield a quick improvement in rural family incomes. This kind of livestock is also more suitable to agro-sylvo-pastoral integration. Improving rural incomes will also require the promotion of cottage industries and handicrafts that will create non-farm employment and will also help to reduce imports. This subsector is currently very underdeveloped, from all points of view, and will require efforts involving training, extension work and financing. As a first step, handicrafts associations will be organized and established through the provision of credits; productive units that were destroyed during the crisis will be rehabilitated; and a handicrafts support fund will be established.
The quality of the cattle herd will be improved by crossbreeding with highly productive stock. This will be done primarily through semen imports followed by an artificial insemination program, which is likely to produce better results than importing animals that are not adapted to local climatic conditions. Veterinarians from the extension services will train communities to install and manage insemination centers.
Herd management techniques will be improved, particularly through permanent stabling for heavy livestock, swine and poultry, so as to make better use of harvest residues and enhance animal productivity in terms of livestock products and organic fertilizer.
Efforts to intensify livestock productivity will not be successful without proper feeding conditions, in terms of forage and concentrates. Forage crops will therefore be encouraged. In particular, attention will be given to herbaceous and woody legumes, which will not only provide high-quality forage but will enhance soil fertility as well. In the short term, seeds will have to be imported for species that have already been tested by ISABU. The emerging seed industry will also have to produce forage seeds that can be multiplied, in due course, by farmers’ associations and cooperatives. These associations will also have to see to the growing of legumes and cereals for producing concentrates.
In order to take full advantage of intensive livestock grazing, a sustained effort will be required to prevent and treat the most frequent and serious diseases. In the short run, purchase of the required inputs will have to depend on government agencies and donors. Responsibility can then be transferred gradually to communities and private operators, as associations and producers receive the required training.
Livestock farming contributes 3% of gross domestic product.
Burundi has considerable mining deposits to be mentioned considering their reserves and contents:
- Mining deposit of Nickel of which the considerable reserves contain also very interesting associated metals by their content (copper, cobalt, platinum metal group)
- Deposit of Iron-Titan-Vanadium — this is the best mining deposit in world considering its reserves and high content
- Deposit of Bastnaesite very rich in Europium
The actual mining exports include: gold, cassiterite, the Colombo-tantalite and the wolframite. There are also in Burundi some interesting deposits of non metallic mines such as phosphate, carbonate, kaolin, feldspaths, peat and limestone. Burundi has also some deposits of precious and half precious stones which can be interesting for the international market.
Recent seismic and magnetic surveys have indicated that there may be Oil under Lake Tanganyika and the Rusizi river plam.
Source: Ministry of Energy and Mines
(In millions of Burundi Francs, unless otherwise indicated)
Source: Service Chargé des Entreprises Publiques (SCEP)