Located in Central Africa, Burundi is one of the seven member states of the East African Community (EAC). Burundi is one of the world’s most impoverished countries, with 87 percent of the population living below the World Bank’s poverty measure of $1.90 per day, 80-90 percent of the population reliant on agriculture (mostly subsistence farming) and a youth unemployment rate of about 65 percent. Economic growth is insufficient to create employment for Burundi’s rapidly growing population and President Ndayishimiye, in power since June 2020, has actively promoted good political and economic governance to improve the business environment by fighting corruption and promoting fiscal transparency. His administration is actively seeking to increase existing value chains to find new sources of employment and revenue and to find new revenue streams.
The Government of Burundi (GoB) is also seeking to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI). Since taking office President Ndayishimiye has made or hosted multiple state visits with potential trade and development partners. Given the importance of agriculture, the GoB is promoting initiatives to modernize and diversify agricultural production, seeking to increase production of crops beyond coffee and tea. To attract FDI, the GoB must address an array of longstanding challenges, including: poor governance and weak institutional capacity; pervasive corruption; an exchange rate gap between the official and parallel market rates that fluctuates between 50-70 percent; financial restrictions and capital controls that limit access to and expatriation of foreign exchange; a low-skilled workforce; only 12 percent electrification nationwide; poor internet connectivity; and limited availability of reliable economic statistics.
The GoB is working to develop infrastructure, including photovoltaic and hydroelectric power plants, roads construction, rehabilitation of Bujumbura Port and the construction of a railway joining Burundi, DRC and Tanzania to improve access to the country, reduce transportation costs and boost regional trade. The demand for electricity and water significantly exceeds capacity, and the transmission system is old and poorly maintained, leading to rolling blackouts and outages. In the mining sector, the GoB is introducing a new mining code and industry-wide regulations it says will promote greater transparency. As of March 2022, all foreign mining companies’ operations remain pending revision and renegotiation of new contracts/agreements based on a “win-win” principle and implementation of the new mining code.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated border closures resulted in a sharp economic slowdown in 2020, and the IMF estimates GDP shrank by around 1 percent, before rebounding by 3.6 percent in 2021. Testing capacity is low and vaccination rates remain among the lowest in the world. Burundian authorities have prepared a COVID-19 response plan to limit the disease spread and cushion its macroeconomic and social impacts; however, its implementation has been constrained by limited financing and domestic resistance, including from some at high levels of government.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
The Government of Burundi (GoB) is generally supportive of FDI and seeks investments to promote economic growth. During the reporting period, the GoB implemented new laws and regulations, including a revised June 2021 investment code (last updated in 2008), and the first national industrialization policy and its accompanying implementation strategy. These regulations offer the same advantages to both Burundian and foreign investors. The regulations also raised the minimum investment amounts to be eligible for certain benefits in the investment code from $50,000 to $500,000 for all investors, with the stated purpose of attracting only quality investments that will create decent jobs. Industry experts believe the new investment regulations will boost development of the industrial sector, which so far contributes only about 17 percent of GDP. An overview of the legal framework for foreign investment can be found at: https://www.investburundi.bi/index.php/espace-medias1/publications/depliants-et-brochures
Along with the new investment code, the Burundi Development Agency (ADB) officially replaced the Investment Promotion Agency (API). The ADB has taken over all the missions of the API and is currently the only entry portal and interlocutor for all investors looking for business opportunities in Burundi. The ADB is the government authority responsible for promoting investment, improving the business climate, and facilitating market entry for investors in Burundi. ADB offers a range of services to potential investors, including assistance in acquiring the licenses, certificates, approvals, authorizations, and permits required by law to set up and operate a business enterprise in Burundi. ADB has set up a “one-stop shop” to facilitate and simplify business registration in Burundi, although investors must be physically present in country to register with ADB. ADB is also tasked with providing investors with information on investment and export promotion, assisting them with legal formalities, including obtaining the required documents, and intervening when laws and regulations are not properly applied. While ADB is the initial and primary point of entry for investors, relevant government ministries also regularly meet with private investors to discuss regulatory and legal issues.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Foreign and domestic companies have the same rights to establish and own businesses in the country and engage in all forms of activities. However, there are restrictions on foreign investments in weaponry, ammunition, and any sort of military or para-military enterprises. There are no other restrictions nor are there any other sectors in which foreign investors are denied the same treatment as domestic firms. There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control.
Article 63 of the 2013 mining code stipulates that the GoB must own at least 10 percent of shares in any foreign company with an industrial mining license and state participation cannot be diluted in the event of an increase in the share capital.
Burundi does not maintain an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
No investment policy review from a multilateral organization has taken place in the last three years. The most recent review was performed in 2010 by UNCTAD.
In addition to fiscal advantages provided in the new investment code, Burundi has approved reforms designed to improve ease of doing business, including reinforcing the capabilities of the one-stop shop at ADB, simplifying tax procedures for small and medium enterprises, reducing the time and cost of registering a business (about four hours at the cost of approximately $21), launching an electronic single window for business transactions, and harmonizing commercial laws within the East African Community. For more details and information on registration procedures, deadlines and costs, investors can visit the ADB at https://www.investburundi.bi/.
The ADB is also responsible for assisting investors in obtaining entry visas, work permits and operating licenses, connections to water and electricity, amicable resolution of disputes between investors and state-owned entities, as well as any other related appropriate assistance.
During the reporting period, the ADB indicates it assisted registering more than 4,000 Burundian companies, certified eight foreign investors with a capital of more than $25 million and granted 21 certificates of eligibility for the advantages provided in the 2021 investment code to investors with a combined capital of more than $170 million. ADB reports the companies created and during the rating period have already invested more than $85 million in Burundi and have created more than 2,327 jobs.
There is no specific mechanism for ensuring equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities.
The host government does not have mechanisms for promoting or incentivizing outward investment. The host government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.
2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
Burundi has bilateral investment treaties (BIT) signed and in force with the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Germany, Kenya, Mauritius, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It also has BITs signed but not in force with Turkey, Comoros, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. The United States suspended Burundi’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2016.
Burundi does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States. The United States signed Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) with the East African Community in 2008, and with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in 2001. Burundi is a member of both regional organizations.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Although parts of the government are working to create more transparent policies for fostering competition, Burundi lacks much of the necessary regulatory framework. Many policies for foreign investment are not transparent, and laws or regulations on the books are often ineffective or unenforced. Burundi’s regulatory and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms on paper, but a lack of capacity or training for staff and political constraints sometimes limit the regularity and transparency of their implementation.
Rule-making and regulatory authority is exercised exclusively at the national level. Relevant ministries and the Council of Ministers exercise regulatory and rule-making authority, based on laws passed by the Senate and National Assembly. In practice, government officials sometimes exercise influence over the application and interpretation of rules and regulations outside of formal structures. The government sometimes discusses proposed legislation and rule-making with private sector interlocutors and civil society but does not have a formal public comment process. There are no informal regulatory processes managed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or private sector associations.
Draft bills or regulations are not subject to a public consultation process. There are no conferences that involve citizens in a consultative process to give them an opportunity to make comments or contributions, especially at the time of project development, and, even if this were the case, the public does not have access to the detailed information needed to participate in this process.
Burundi does not have a centralized online location where key regulatory actions are published; however, regulatory actions are sometimes posted on the websites of GoB institutions (typically that of the Office of the President or respective ministries).
Burundi has sectoral regulatory agencies covering taxes and revenues, mining and energy, water, and agriculture. Regulatory actions are reviewable by courts. There have been no recent reforms to the regulatory enforcement system.
The government generally issues terms of reference and recruits private consultants who prepare a study on the draft legislation for review and comment by the private sector. The government analyzes these comments and takes them into consideration when drafting new regulations. New regulations can be issued by a presidential decree or Parliament can make them into a law. This mechanism applies to laws and regulations on investment.
Information on public finances and debt obligations (including explicit and contingent liabilities) is published in the Burundi Central Bank’s Reports and on its website: https://www.brb.bi/ . However, some publications on the website are not up to date.
International Regulatory Considerations
Burundi is a member of the East African Community (EAC), a regional economic bloc composed of seven member states, the republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the recently admitted Democratic Republic of the Congo. The EAC integration process is anchored on four pillars: a customs union, a common market, a monetary union, and political federation. Each member state must harmonize its national regulatory system with that of the EAC.
Burundian law and regulations reference several standards, including the East African Standards, Codex Alimentarius Standards, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Burundi’s own standards. ISO remains the main standard of reference.
The country joined the WTO on July 23, 1995. According to the Ministry of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism, Burundi has not notified the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade of all its draft technical regulations.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
The country’s legal system is civil (Roman), based on German and French civil codes. For local civil matters, customary law also applies. Burundi’s legal system contains standard provisions guaranteeing the right to private property and the enforcement of contracts. The country has a written commercial law and a commercial court. The investment code offers plaintiffs recourse in the national court system and to international arbitration.
The judicial system is not effectively independent of the executive branch. A lack of capacity hinders judicial effectiveness, and judicial procedures are not rigorously observed.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
In June 2021, the GoB adopted a revised investment code and the first national industrialization policy and its accompanying implementation strategy. Along with the new investment code, the Burundi Development Agency (ADB) officially replaced the Investment Promotion Agency (API) (See Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment above).
Competition and Antitrust Laws
There is no agency in charge of reviewing transactions for competition-related concerns.
Expropriation and Compensation
Burundian law allows the GoB to expropriate property for exceptional and state-approved reasons, but the GoB is then committed to provide compensation based on the fair market value prior to expropriation.
There are no recent cases involving expropriation of foreign investments nor do any foreign firms have active pending complaints regarding compensation in Burundian courts.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Burundi is a full member of the ICSID Convention since 1969 and became the 150th country to sign the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention). Burundi’s commercial law allows enforcement of judgments in foreign courts by local courts.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Burundi is a signatory of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in which international arbitration of investment disputes is recognized. Burundi does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.
There have been limited instances of foreign investors seeking restitution from the GoB over allegations of breach of contract and corruption.
In cases involving international parties, the GoB accepts international arbitration and recognizes and enforces foreign arbitral awards. There is no history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
In rare cases involving international elements, the GoB accepts international arbitration and recognizes and enforces foreign arbitral awards. In investment disputes between private parties, international arbitration is accepted as a means of settlement provided one of the parties is a non-national. In 2007, the GoB created a Center for Arbitration and Mediation (CEBAC) to handle such disputes, but it is not very active.
There is no operational commercial arbitration body in the country besides CEBAC. Foreign arbitral awards are recognized, but local courts are not legally equipped to enforce them. No Burundian private entity has been involved in a foreign arbitration. In the past, one registered case involved the GoB and a private gold refining company. The GoB lost the case and enforced the ICSID’s against the GoB.
Burundi has two laws governing or pertaining to bankruptcy: Law N°1/07 of March 15, 2006, on bankruptcy and Law N°1/08 of March 15, 2006, on legal settlement of insolvent companies. Under Burundian law, creditors have the right to file for liquidation and the right to request personal or financial information about the debtors from the legal bankruptcy agent. The bankruptcy framework does not require that creditors approve the selection of the bankruptcy agent and does not provide creditors the right to object to decisions accepting or rejecting creditors’ claims.
4. Industrial Policies
The updated investment code grants potential fiscal and customs benefits for up to five years, or up to ten years for certain sectors as determined by presidential decree and based on the country’s development needs. Benefits include exemption from transfer duties for the acquisition of land or buildings, exemption from Value Added Tax (VAT) and customs duties on the importation of construction materials and production inputs, and reduced tax rates on profits ranging from 5 to 25 percent for the first five years, after which the corporate tax rate is set at 30 percent.
The GoB does not issue guarantees, but does co-finance foreign direct investment projects, albeit typically on an in-kind basis, such as by granting land for facilities.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
Burundi belongs to the trading blocs of the EAC, the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Economic Community of the States of Central Africa (CEEAC). During the reporting period, Burundi ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, accepting all conditions of the agreement. The GoB has set up an ad hoc committee to continue working on AfCFTA integration and Burundi hopes to benefit from AfCFTA’s market due to its strategic location and natural resources.
The government indicates it aims to accelerate integration into other trading blocs, such as the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between COMESA, EAC and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The GoB also began harmonizing its policies and legal framework with those of regional entities to advance regional integration, improve its competitiveness, and take better advantage of external economic potentials. However, as the enabling regulations do not yet exist, Burundi does not yet have operational free economic zones.
The GoB is working to establish its first Special Economic Zone (ZESB) in order to enhance growth and development. ZESB is still under construction on the Warubondo site (a strategic location of 5.43 square kilometers located between Burundi and neighboring DRC with easy access to Bujumbura city, Bujumbura International Airport, Bujumbura Port and Lake Tanganyika). ZESB is a result of a business partnership between the GoB and private foreign investors and its main objective is to revive the industrial sector and to promote exports. The economic model behind this partnership is that the zone will be a window for foreign investors, but all the products produced within the zone will bear the label “Made in Burundi.”
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
The current government policy for both domestic and foreign companies is mandatory employment of local workers unless it is not possible to find a local candidate with the required skills or expertise. The number of expatriate employees is limited to 20 percent of the total workforce. There is no policy mandating foreign companies to appoint local personnel to senior management or boards of directors.
Burundian visa requirements are not excessively onerous and do not generally inhibit the mobility of foreign investors and their employees. During the reporting period, Burundi reauthorized visitors to apply for a visa upon arrival at the airport. A foreigner holding a residency visa is permitted to work in Burundi. A two-year residence visa (renewable) costs $500 and it can only be issued after making a refundable deposit of $1,500 in a local bank (BANCOBU).
The 2000 Arusha Agreements for peace and reconciliation for Burundi and the Constitution recommend ethnic and gender quotas for new hires (60 percent from the Hutu ethnic group, 40 percent from the Tutsi ethnic group and 30 percent women) in state and security institutions. However, neither the Constitution nor the Arusha Agreements mention ethnic or gender quotas for the private sector. In 2017, a law was passed obliging International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) to recruit local staff while respecting the ethnic and gender quotas that apply to state institutions.
There are no requirements that investors purchase from local sources. However, the mining code currently requires a commitment from investors to recruit staff or subcontractors of Burundian nationality as a precondition for granting a mining license, with mandatory quotas currently in place (although the mining code is under revision as of March 2022). The GoB imposes no performance requirements on investors as a condition for establishing, maintaining, or expanding their investments or for access to tax and investment incentives.
There are no laws requiring foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption except for a law requiring that companies share user information with law enforcement authorities during terrorism investigations; this law applies equally to Burundian and foreign companies. There are no laws that prevent companies from transmitting data outside the country.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Secured interests in both real and movable property are nominally recognized under Burundian law. The Burundi land code, adopted in 2011, recognizes the right to property and protection for Burundians and for foreigners. Foreigners enjoy the same rights and protection as nationals, subject to the principle of reciprocity. The state can give property to foreigners for industrial, commercial, and cultural use, and can rent them out, but full ownership is reserved for Burundians.
Land titling in Burundi has historically been a lengthy, opaque, and centralized process. The Land Titles Service registers real estate and security instruments, such as mortgages. Property titles are accepted as a guarantee by commercial banks, but documents for properties located outside the capital city of Bujumbura are less readily accepted because of conflicts and crime related to land disputes in rural areas (more than 80 percent of criminal court cases are related to conflicts over land).
The legal system and the investment code do not differentiate between local and foreign investors regarding land acquisition or lease. However, the possibility for land acquisition is based on reciprocity between Burundi and the investor’s home country.
When a property has been legally purchased, it cannot be legally confiscated by the state except when it is the subject of an expropriation procedure in accordance with legal and regulatory procedures.
Intellectual Property Rights
Burundi has adopted the 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights (TRIPS), which introduced global minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of virtually all intellectual property rights (IPR). The legal system and the investment code aim to protect and facilitate the acquisition and disposition of all property rights, including IPR. The law also guarantees protection for patents, copyrights, and trademarks. However, there is no record of enforcement action on IPR infringement violations. No IPR-related law has been enacted during the past year and no bills are pending.
Agents of Burundian institutions in charge of the fight against piracy and counterfeiting (Burundian Revenue Office, Ministries of Trade and Public Health) have already benefited from various sources of support in terms of capacity building on industrial property rights and the fight against piracy and counterfeiting on the part of multilateral partners, but these institutions lack modern tools for detecting counterfeits. Although these institutions have already committed themselves to carrying out reforms in this sector (a multisectoral committee responsible for promoting procedures to combat counterfeiting and piracy and monitoring has been set up), they still need to set up a database of recognized trademarks, in which all the information on trademarks registered at customs is compiled and to require this procedure for all companies or representatives of multinationals to be effective.
For now, the Burundi Bureau of Standardization (BBN) is the state authority responsible for monitoring the quality of consumer products on the market; however, this Bureau lacks the necessary expertise and resources to be effective. Counterfeiters who are apprehended are fined and their products are seized. There are no statistics available on seizures of counterfeit goods. Burundi is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Market List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Although there are no regulatory restrictions on foreign portfolio investment, Burundi does not have capital markets that would enable it. Capital allocation within Burundi is entirely dependent on commercial banks.
The country does not have its own stock market. There is no regulatory system to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment. Existing policies do not actively facilitate nor impede the free flow of financial resources into product and factor markets.
There is no regulation restricting international transactions. In practice, however, the government restricts payments and transfers for international transactions due to a shortage of foreign currency, which impedes doing business in a number of ways.
In theory, foreign investors have access to all existing credit instruments and on market terms. In practice, available credit is extremely limited.
Money and Banking System
The financial sector includes 15 credit institutions, 40 microfinance institutions, 16 insurance companies, three social security institutions and three payment institutions. All these institutions aim at reducing unemployment by creating job opportunities, particularly small and medium-scale entrepreneurship. The banking market is dominated by the three largest and systemically important banks: Credit Bank of Bujumbura (BCB), Burundi Commercial Bank (BANCOBU), and Interbank Burundi (IBB).
Burundi’s population has very limited access to banking services, according to the most recent national survey on financial inclusion conducted by the central bank. In this 2016 survey, the Bank of the Republic of Burundi (BRB) found a penetration level of approximately 22 percent, although the government opened two banks, one for youth entrepreneurs and one for women, over the last 1.5 years in an effort to address this challenge.
The government is a minority shareholder in six banks, including the country’s three largest banks and is the main shareholders in the two new banks BIJE (Banque d’Investissement des Jeunes/Youth Investment Bank) and BIDF (Banque d’Investissement et de Développement pour les Femmes/Investment and Development Bank for Women). Several local commercial banks have branches in urban centers and micro-finance institutions mostly serve rural areas.
Foreign banks can establish operations in the country. Foreign banks operating in the country include ECOBANK (Pan African Bank-West Africa), CRDB (Tanzanian Bank), DTB and KCB (both Kenyan Banks). The central bank directs banking regulatory policy, including prudential measures for the banking system. Foreigners and locals are subject to the same conditions when opening a bank account; the only requirement is the presentation of identification.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
According to the GoB, funds associated with an investment can be converted into a freely usable currency at a legal market rate, pending their availability. In practice, foreign investors routinely encounter difficulties in converting funds associated with investments into foreign currency due to de facto capital controls implemented by the BRB in 2019 and lack of foreign currency reserves. Due to the shortage of foreign currency, the central bank prioritizes companies in specific strategic industries for access to foreign exchange accommodation.
The government has imposed capital controls to prevent abrupt exchange rate movements; there is a significant gap between the official rate and a floating parallel unofficial market rate, which ranged from 50-70 percent during the rating period. The BRB publishes the daily exchange rate on its website each morning.
The government has not passed any new laws regarding a change to investment remittances policies. The average delay for remitting investment returns (once all taxes have been paid) is three months due to general inefficiency in the banking sector and the rarity of such transactions in an environment with very little foreign direct investment.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Burundi does not have a sovereign wealth fund.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
There are five SOEs in Burundi with 100 percent government ownership: REGIDESO (public utility company), ONATEL (telecom), SOSUMO (sugar), OTB (tea), COGERCO (cotton) and ODECA (Coffee). No statistics on assets are available for these companies as their reports are not available to the public. Board members for SOEs are appointed by the GoB and report to its ministries. The GoB also has a minority (40 percent) share in Brarudi brewing company, a branch of the Heineken Group, the country’s largest taxpayer.
There is no published list of SOEs.
SOEs have no market-based advantages and compete with other investors under the same terms and conditions; however, Burundi does not adhere to the OECD guidelines on corporate governance for SOEs.
In 2002, Burundi entered an active phase of political stabilization, national reconciliation, and economic reform. In 2004, it received an emergency post-conflict program from the IMF and the World Bank, paving the way for the development of the Strategic Framework for Growth and Poverty Alleviation (PRSP). After the 2005 elections, the GoB made the decision to open several state-owned enterprises in different sectors of the economy to private investment, including foreign investment. The Burundian government, considering coffee a strategic sector of its economy, decided to opt for the privatization of the coffee sector first in an effort to modernize it. However, following the crisis of 2015, the GoB decided to suspend the privatization program. At that time, it had not yet privatized other sectors such as tea or sugar. In late 2019, the GoB regained control of the coffee sector, citing as its rationale perceived mismanagement on the part of the privatized companies during 2015-2019. It is unclear if or when the privatization program will continue.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
According to the investment code, any new enterprise is required to consider environmental issues and employee rights in its investment and business plan. The government has taken no comprehensive measures to implement policies or international standards regarding responsible business practices. The government routinely engages investors about including public and community benefits in investment projects, but has no clearly defined standards.
There have not been any high-profile or controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights violations in the recent past. No reliable information is available on the maintenance and enforcement of domestic laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protections, and environmental protections. In January 2019, the BRB issued a regulation relating to the protection of consumers of financial products and services in view of the complexity and growing diversity of the range of the services and products offered in Burundi.
There are no corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards in place to protect the interests of shareholders. There are no organizations focused specifically on RBC in the country.
As a member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the government has acceded to the OECD due diligence mechanism and the regional system for certification and traceability of certain minerals extracted from national mines (tin, tantalum, and tungsten), as well as against conflict minerals that can be smuggled from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, some civil society organizations report a noticeable lack of transparency in the Burundian mining sector (including alleged involvement of GoB officials in the trafficking of gold from the DRC).
The government does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. There are no domestic transparency measures/policies that require the disclosure of payments made to the government.
Burundi first made commitments to contribute to the fight against climate change through its original Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2015 during the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris in 2015 and Burundi ratified the agreement in 2018. During the reporting period, Burundi submitted an updated 2020 NDC to the UNFCCC’s Secretariat in November 2021 at the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) as well as an initial National Adaptation Plan (NAP).
The interim NDC evaluation report of March 2021 noted some achievements in the forestry sector, although there were few results on energy sector commitments. The report found the GoB lacked adequate funding and technical capacity for implementation. Burundi contributes less than 0.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions but remains vulnerable to global climate impacts.
Burundi’s NAP on climate change calls for a range of responses. In agriculture, Burundi is planning to increase irrigation and diversify climate-resilient, high-yield food crop varieties. For ecosystems and landscapes, efforts will focus on reforestation of degraded lands and floodplain protection. Water priorities include expanding integrated watershed management and rainwater harvesting. Health efforts highlight the collection of environmental health data and the development of a health sector NAP. Energy efforts will center on hydroelectric and solar power, increasing biogas, and improved cooking stoves. Burundi’s infrastructure plans hope to improve waterways and structures around the Lake Tanganyika port area and rehabilitate existing road networks.
The government has an anti-corruption law as well as constitutional provisions on corruption, although these have not been implemented. Cabinet members, parliamentarians, and officials appointed by presidential decree have immunity from prosecution on corruption charges, insulating them from accountability. Laws designed to combat corruption do not extend to family members of officials or to political parties.
Article 60 of the April 2016 law “Bearing Measures for the Prevention and Punishment of Corruption and Related Offenses” regulates conflicts of interest, including in awarding government procurement. Burundian legislation criminalizes bribery of public officials, but there is no specific requirement for private companies to establish internal codes of conduct.
Burundi is a signatory to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. Burundi has also been a member of the East African Anti-Corruption Authority since joining the EAC in 2007. The country does not provide protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.
A number of U.S. firms have noted corruption is an obstacle to direct investment in Burundi. Corruption is most pervasive in the award of licenses and concessions, which takes place in a non-transparent environment with frequent allegations of bribery and cronyism. Many customs officials are also reportedly corrupt, regularly extorting bribes from exporters and importers.
In April 2021, the National Assembly approved a law disbanding the anti-corruption court and the anti-corruption police unit. The anti-corruption court’s authorities were transferred to the office of the attorney general and courts of appeals and the anticorruption police unit’s authorities were delegated to the judicial police.
President Ndayishimiye continued with anti-corruption initiatives including dismissing high-level officials as well as hundreds of other low-level officials accused of malfeasance. In May 2021, President Ndayishimiye fired the Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism over acts that risked compromising the country’s economy and tarnishing its image, reportedly in connection with the improper disposition of state property. He also fired the succeeding Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism for tarnishing the image of the country after it came to light that she included family members and friends in official delegations abroad.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Name: Roger Ndikumana
Title: Commissaire Général
Organization: Anti-Corruption Brigade
Address: PO Box 890 Bujumbura
Telephone Number: (+257) 22 25 62 37
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact at a “watchdog” organization:
Name: Gabriel Rufyiri
Address: 47, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore, n°47, 1st Floor Telephone Number: (+257) 79 30 82 97
Email Address: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Political and Security Environment
Burundi has experienced cycles of ethnic and political violence since its independence in 1962. Periods before and after national elections have often been marked by political violence and civil disturbance. The May 2020 elections were largely peaceful, and the GoB has since consolidated power and security gains. Political tensions between the ruling party and opposition remain. The new administration has made efforts to reduce tensions with neighboring countries, including Rwanda, and to increase participation in regional security cooperation.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Unskilled local labor is widely available, while there are shortages for skilled workers in some sectors; no statistics are available on the shortage of specialized labor skills. According to government policy, the hiring of nationals should be prioritized except in cases in which no local expertise is available. Formal sector employment is limited, and official figures for unemployment are unreliable. Youth unemployment is estimated at approximately 65 percent.
According to the investment code, any new enterprise is required to take into account environmental issues and employee rights in its investment and business plan. The government has taken no comprehensive measures to implement policies or international standards regarding responsible business practices. The government routinely engages investors about including public and community benefits in investment projects but has no clearly defined standards.
No reliable information is available on the maintenance and enforcement of domestic laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protections, and environmental protections. There are no known examples of labor laws being waived in order to attract or retain investment.
The labor code allows for employers to respond to fluctuating market conditions with layoffs of workers. Labor laws do not differentiate between layoffs and firing for severance. The government has a social insurance program that provides limited coverage to workers laid off for economic reasons.
Burundi is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and its domestic labor law is in compliance with international labor standards. Workers’ unions are legally authorized, and there are laws and regulations that prohibit child and forced labor and any kind of discrimination. In practice, child labor occurs, and some union activity is restricted. Burundi has ratified all of the ILO fundamental conventions protecting workers’ rights; however, protection of core labor rights continues to be inadequate. The Ministry of Labor conducts inspections both in response to complaints or allegations of labor law violations and conducts routine, planned inspections, primarily of large employers. The Ministry of Justice has the ability to prosecute people who use children for work which, by their nature or the conditions in which they work, are likely to harm their health, safety and morals as provided by the law. However, child labor is common in the informal sector and largely goes unnoticed there. In the private sector, labor-management relations are usually conducted according to international standards that allow for collective bargaining. Burundi’s Labor Inspectorate has the authority to settle disputes between workers and employers, which can also be managed through civil judicial procedures. No strikes that posed an investment risk occurred during the past year. In November 2020, the government adopted a new labor code, replacing the 1993 code, with the main objective of complying with the various conventions that the country has since ratified, and above all responding to criteria for regional and international integration. This new code includes protections for employees and more flexibility and surety of contracts.
In order to advance anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) efforts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staffed its new Department for the Promotion of Safe Labor Migration, which is tasked with producing new and stronger labor recruitment regulations that are currently under review. The government worked on bilateral agreements on migrant worker rights with four major destination countries, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and to date has signed cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia. Agreements with the remaining three Gulf destination countries are ongoing. The Ministry of Justice also increased the number of employees whose job is to monitor and report on TIP cases.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
DFC is active in Burundi, investing in an INGO that provides support to many small farmers based in hard-to-reach, remote areas. The INGO works with people in the community to provide seed and fertilizer on credit, together with training on best practices on growing and storing food, in order to increase value to the farmers. DFC also provides political risk insurance and debt financing for a significant solar energy project and is considering other investment opportunities.
13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source*
USG or international statistical source
USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)