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Minister Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza
Development Strategies Putting Burundi on the Right Path
Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Planning, discusses Burundi’s economic strategies.
European Times: What are your priorities as minister?
Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza: This ministry is in charge of public finances as well as economic-development planning. My first task is to promote Burundi’s economic development, since this will generate revenues for the state. We are particularly focussing on ensuring adequate energy for the growth of our main sectors. Information technology is another important vector of growth, and we will foster ICT development, particularly a fibre-optic network in Bujumbura, through a public-private partnership supported by the World Bank. Another priority for this ministry is to manage public finances with the help of our international partners. We are also working on a financial-inclusion strategy to give more people access to credit.
European Times: What progress have you made in reaching these goals?
Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza: We have been praised by our international partners for our efforts to strengthen the economy under difficult circumstances, and Burundi has improved its international ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking and continues to do so. Improving the business climate means we will attract more of the FDI we need to develop our economy and boost our exports.
European Times: What are the main challenges Burundi faces?
Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza: The greatest challenge is a lack of reliable energy. We have devoted a large portion of the state budget to developing thermal energy because it is necessary for the country’s survival. Energy prices in Burundi are low, which discourages investors, but raising prices would be difficult for our vulnerable population.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential international investors, partners and visitors?
Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza: Travellers should know that whatever media might report, Burundi is now safe, with a democratic government and a free press, and it is really moving forward. In just one example, we have built more schools over the past five years than over the previous 50 years! For investors, Burundi is a high-potential virgin market. Magnificent Lake Tanganyika, for example, has not yet been exploited. We also have many natural resources waiting to be developed. Burundi is managing its finances better than ever before, as the African Development Bank recently recognised by increasing its support. In addition, a 2012 report by Transparency International showed that Burundi is the second-least-corrupt country in the East African Community thanks to new anti-corruption initiatives like the Burundi Revenue Office. Burundi is definitely on the right path.