African Development Bank helps Burundi

Audace Niyonzima, Minister of Finance of Burundi (centre left) and Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (centre right) surrounded by their respective delegations

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will mobilize close to $4 million to help Burundi urgently procure over 3,000 tons of fertilizer over the upcoming agricultural season.

The support will enable the country to procure fertilizer for the first phase of the season, which begins in May. The country’s needs for the entire season are estimated at 145,000 tons.

Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Audace Niyonzima requested this support on behalf of President Évariste Nadyishimiye during a recent meeting with the African Development Bank head in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast.

Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said the bank will use two existing projects from its current portfolio in Burundi to help meet the immediate needs of the first phase.

The African Fertilizer Development Financing Mechanism, a special fund managed by the African Development Bank, also represents an opportunity that will be explored for subsequent phases, Adesina said.

The bank will also support Burundi’s efforts to explore fertilizer procurement opportunities with other international agencies such as the World Food Programme.

Adesina encouraged the Burundian government to pursue reforms in the fertilizer sector.

He suggested the establishment of an electronic wallet (e-wallet) for greater transparency in the process of distributing fertilizer to beneficiaries.

The meeting focused on concrete concerns and was a continuation of discussions between Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Dr. Adesina at the last Dakar 2 summit on food sovereignty and resilience in January.

Adesina reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to support the government in its efforts to mobilize resources for Burundi’s Food and Agriculture Delivery Compact —concluded at the Dakar 2 Summit—which amounts to $200 million over five years.

Discussions to fund the compact are underway with other key partners, including the Netherlands, the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

To this end, the bank has mobilized about $1.3 million to finance technical studies for the establishment of agro-processing zones and irrigated areas in Karusi and Cibitoke.

The Burundian minister also requested participation in the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa or AFAWA initiative, for youth and women in his country.

In response to this request, the Bank Group has committed to strengthening the liquidity of Burundi’s Youth Investment Bank (YIB) and its Women’s Development and Investment Bank (WDIB) to the tune of about $5.3 million.

Adesina explained that the bank is moving towards the establishment of youth investment banks across the continent.

During the meeting the parties also discussed regional integration.

Adesina said the bank plans to invest about $100 million in the construction of the Uvinza-Musongati-Gitega section of the Tanzania-Burundi-Democratic Republic of Congo railway, between Tanzania and Burundi.

The project will be presented to the bank’s board of directors in September.

Adesina assured the Burundian government of the bank’s support to other partners to mobilize the remaining funds for the construction of the Tanzania-Burundi railway section which requires $1.4 billion of which about $645.76 million is being mobilized.

Niyonzima, who is also the Bank Group Governor for Burundi, was accompanied by Sanctus Niragira, Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock.

The visit to the headquarters of the pan-African development institution highlights the bank’s ongoing relationship with its member countries and its role as the premier multilateral development finance institution in Africa.

Included among the senior bank team who met the delegation were Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development Beth Dunford; Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness; Abdul Camara, Deputy Director General for East Africa and Pascal Yembeline, Country Manager for Burundi.

The bank’s active portfolio in Burundi comprises 19 operations with commitments of $372 million, mainly concentrated in energy (45%), transport (34%), agriculture (12%) and social (8%) sectors.

African Press Organization