Politics and Economy of Burundi

State structure and political system of Burundi

In accordance with the provisional Constitution of 1998 (as amended in 2001), Burundi is a republic. The head of state is the president, who shares power with the vice president during the transitional period. These posts are occupied by representatives of various ethnic groups – Tutsi and Hutu. Legislative power is exercised by the Transitional National Assembly (185 deputies) and the Senate (54 members), formed in 2002. Check cancermatters for political system of Burundi.

Administratively, the country is divided into 16 provinces and 114 communes. The largest cities are Chibitoke, Bujumbura, Muyinga, Ngo-zi, Bubanza, Gitega, Bururi.

On March 9, 1992, a multi-party system was introduced in Burundi. By 2002, 18 political parties were registered in the country. The leading positions in the political arena of Burundi are occupied by UPRONA (representatives of Tut-si predominate) and FRODEBU (representatives of Hutus predominate).

The national trade union movement is headed by the Workers’ Union of Burundi, created in 1967 and operating under the leadership of UPRONA.

The armed forces number 45.5 thousand people. and 5.5 thousand gendarmes.

Burundi has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR on October 1, 1962).

Economy of Burundi

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. GDP $689.2 million (2001), or $100 per capita. The average annual GDP growth rate in 2000–01 was 1.15%. GDP structure: agriculture 50%, industry 18%, services 32%. Economically active population 1.9 million people. Inflation 14% in 2001, 9.3% in 2002.

The economic development of Burundi is highly dependent on world prices for coffee, the main cash crop. It accounts for up to 90% of the country’s export earnings. In 2000, the coffee harvest amounted to 27.6 thousand tons. The second most important export crop is tea (6.5 thousand tons). Since 1987, cotton has become an important export item in some years (1998 -3.6 thousand tons). Sugar cane, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, legumes and corn are also grown in the country.

Animal husbandry is represented by cattle breeding (346 thousand heads), goats (900 thousand), sheep (320 thousand), pigs (73 thousand). The export of skins provides from 0.1 to 2% of the country’s foreign trade earnings. Fishing is carried out in Lake Tanganyika.

Bastnaesite (a mineral raw material for obtaining cesium), cassiterite (tin ore, in 1998 its export amounted to only 23 tons), tungsten, columbo-tantalite, alluvial gold are mined in small quantities.

The manufacturing industry of Burundi is represented by the processing of agricultural products – cotton, coffee, tea, the production of vegetable oil, as well as small sawmills. There are glass and cement factories, a shoe factory, an insecticide factory, a flour mill, a brewery, and textile industry enterprises.

There are no railways in the country, the length of roads is 14,480 km, incl. 1028 km paved. The main waterways pass through Lake Tanganyika. An important trading port is Bujumbura. There are 7 airports, incl. international class.

Structural adjustment programs are frustrated due to political instability in the country. The World Bank has identified several key areas for economic reform. These include increasing the yield of traditional crops, diversifying exports, developing the artisanal form of mining (cassiterite, gold, columbo-tantalite), light and mining industries and the service sector.

Foreign trade turnover 149 million USD: export 24 million USD (coffee – 78.2%, tea – 18.2%, sugar, cotton, leather – 0.1%); imports 125 million dollars (capital-intensive goods, oil products – 17.2%, food products) (2001). Main trading partners: for export – EU countries (52.5%), USA (11.5%), Kenya (11.5%), Switzerland (4.5%); imports – EU countries (37.6%), Tanzania (10.3%), Zambia (4.3%), India (3.4%), China (3.4%).

Government budget: revenues $143.3 million, expenditures $191.2 million (2002).

External debt 648.3 million US dollars, deductions on account of its repayment – 39.8% of the country’s export earnings (2001).

70% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Education in the country is free. Primary six-year education is compulsory, covering approx. 55% of children of the appropriate age.

Politics of Burundi