Burundi_flagThe Republic of Burundi, is a small country (approx. 27,839Km2) in the East Africa Region. It has an estimate 10.6 million inhabitants[1]. Its neighbours are Rwanda, located on the north, Tanzania in the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the west side. The country is landlocked though it has access to Lake Tanganyika on its south eastern borders.

The main ethnic groups in Burundi are the Twa, Hutu, and Tutsi people. The official languages in Burundi are Kirundi, French and English. Burundi attained independence in 1962 and the current head of state and Government is Chief Executive Pierre Nkurunziza. Having emerged recently from a civil war, Burundi is making efforts to political stability, peace, reduced poverty and economic growth. A significant turning point towards this was the signing of the peace agreement in Arusha in 2000. A new constitution that provides for appropriate ethnic checks and balances was approved in August 2005[2].

Government Structure

The political system in Burundi is that of a presidential representative and a multi-party system which came into in 1998. The government is divided into three branches, the executive, legislature, and the judiciary. The President is the head of state and the head of government. He is also responsible for electing the council ministers during elections. Burundi became a member of the East African Community (EAC), which comprises of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi & Uganda, in 2007.

Existing Transportation Network

Transport is one of the most vital sectors in Burundi as other sectors depend on it either directly or indirectly. The sector was hard hit by the Civil war but is now undergoing improvements. Characteristics of the Sector.

  • The country is fairly connected to its neighbours as well as the EAC member states by air and there are plans for construction of roads connecting to neighbouring countries
  • Burundi Transportation includes 19,000 passenger cars as well as 12,300 commercial vehicles.
  • The most common transport that can be seen on the road are bicycle taxis. Other than that small vans and buses are also used.
  • The sector is affected by high fuel prices since it imports most of the petroleum products.
  • The transport vehicles are owned by small scale operators

The means of transport in Burundi include:


Road is the most dominant mode of transport in Burundi as the country is landlocked. The road transport system in Burundi comprises about 14,480kilometres of total roads and only about 7 percent of them remain open in all weather, the rest are considered as local roads or local tracks. Most major roads in Burundi are sealed and public transport is mainly by minibus. Available means of transport here include:

Minibuses: Minibuses and taxis are the principal means of transportation readily available all over the country. There are also many minibuses, mostly Toyota Hiace.

Special Hire vehicles: Special hire are privately owned vehicles which you can be hire to take you to specific destinations and they are mainly found in urban areas.

Public buses: There are both domestic and regional buses routes. The regional buses provide means of transport to neighbouring countries. The domestic buses transport people to most urban areas of Burundi.

Container trucks and Lorries: These Lorries and trucks transport goods within the country and beyond the national borders. The type of lorry to hire depends on tonnage of goods to be transported and the place of destination.

Buses: OTRACO is a public corporation under Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment and its mission is to transport people by bus. OTRACO is a national bus company with officially some 90 buses but in practice few are in service. Most bus transport is by private midi buses, most of which are Toyota Coasters. In Bujumbura the private buses, organized in an association, are white and blue, outside Bujumbura they are white and yellow or all over white. There are very few large buses in Burundi, apart from the few dozen OTRACO buses. In public transport the only other large buses that can be seen ply the international route to Kigali and Kampala and belong to Ugandan companies. Toyota Coaster buses belonging to Rwandan companies operate the route Bujumbura-Kigali.

Water Transport

Lake Tanganyika is used for transport, with the major port on the lake being Bujumbura. Most freight is transported down waterways. Means of Water transport on Lake Tanganyika include:

MV Liemba: MV Liemba ferry is a passanger and cargo ferry that moves along the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika that moves between Kigoma and Mpulungu

MV Mwongozo: MV Mwongozo is a mixed passenger and cargo ferry on Lake Tanganyika that moves between Kigoma and Bujumbura.

Tanganyika Transport Company: Tanganyika Transport is a private limited liability company. It is a family enterprise having a self-propelled unit, the MV Mbaza moving from Bujumbura – Kigoma and Bujumbura – Mpulungu waterways

Local boats: There are also local wooden boats that transport passengers and cargo on Lake Tanganyika to various destinations

As lake transport is the cheapest way of transporting goods, the Government has made it a priority to improve the standard of the services offered by the port of Bujumbura, which is managed by the company holding the concession to operate the port, (EPB).

Air Transport

Air transport is of strategic importance to the nation because, Burundi being a landlocked country, it guarantees an alternative gateway to the rest of the world. It’s the most efficient and quickest transport means to and from Burundi. The aviation industry in Burundi is managed by the civil aviation authority of Burundi and regulated by ministry of transport and telecommunications.

Bujumbura International Airport is the only airport used by people in and out of the country. Air service is maintained by Air Burundi, which operates domestic service and flies to Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. International service is provided by other airlines.


Burundi does not possess any railway infrastructure at the present time.

Economic Development

Burundi’s growth accelerated to an estimated 4.6% in 2013, up from 4.2% in 2012, thanks to increased activity in the secondary and tertiary sectors.

Burundi’s economic freedom score is 53.7, making its economy the 132nd freest in the 2015 Index[2].

Over the past five years, economic freedom in Burundi has advanced by 4.1 points. Business freedom, control of government spending, and investment freedom have improved by 5.0 points or more. This year, Burundi has achieved its highest economic freedom score ever, registering the seventh-biggest improvement in the 2015 Index.

Major Industries


Over 94% of Burundi’s population lives in rural areas; the great majority of people are subsistence farmers. Coffee is the major export and foreign exchange earner accounting for over 80% of exports. Tea accounts for less than 10%.

Manufacturing industry

There is diminishing supply of land available for agriculture because of the growing population. The country is densely populated yet too small. Hence the need to accelerate the pace of industrialisation. Production and employment in the private manufacturing sector are dominated by two breweries, Bragita & Barudi. Burundi’s brewery is the largest and most effective industry and it continues to produce and be profitable no matter the political and social turmoil. Most manufacturing revolves around food production and processing and is still intended for the local market. Production is concentrated on typical import-substituting activities: (a) agro-industries (beverages, dairy products, sugar, and cigarettes); (b) chemical industries (soap, foam and a range of plastic products); (c) textile and leather (cloth, garments, blankets and shoes); (d) metal –working industries (nails, corrugated sheets, profiles, and tubes); and (e) other products (building materials and printed matter)[3]. (Burundi does have important reserves of vanadium, uranium and nickel. But high transportation costs have limited the potential of these reserves.
[1] http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/burundi/overview
[2] www.worldbank.org
[3] Report on Buru Private Sector Development in the Industrial Sector.


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