Déogratias Rurimunzu, Minister of Transport, Public Works and Equipment, discusses Burundi’s ongoing infrastructure development.
European Times: What are the responsibilities of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment?
Déogratias Rurimunzu: While we are involved in building construction, our main task is to ensure modern infrastructure for Burundi, particularly good roads since many of our roads were destroyed during the war. Within the ministry is the Office of Roads, which works with organisations like the National Road Fund. We have launched a €329.3 million (BIF 665 billion) project for road improvement and we are receiving support for it from various international funding organisations. Other priorities are to develop transport services on Lake Tanganyika and to expand our port services, for example the port of Bujumbura Rumonge.
On the regional level, we are working with Zambia on a project concerning Burungu port and we are launching projects to create railway links with Tanzania and Rwanda. We have completed the feasibility study for a new rail link connecting Keza, Kigali, Gitega and Musangati, and we are working on a memorandum of understanding with Tanzania on a rail line which will particularly benefit our mining industry. Our building projects include a new presidential palace, a new parliament building, rehabilitation of University Hospital, and new housing in the Buyenzi area. We are also involved in various public-works projects. Over the long term, the government plans to develop Ougendana airport as an alternative to our main airport in Bujumbura, particularly for the mining sector.
European Times: How will these projects be financed?
Déogratias Rurimunzu: In addition to state funds, we are receiving support from many international institutions, including the African Development Bank, the EU, the World Bank and others. We also strongly support public-private infrastructure and transport projects and we welcome foreign investors.
European Times: What progress has been made recently in upgrading Burundi’s infrastructure?
Déogratias Rurimunzu: Burundi’s infrastructure has greatly improved over the past five years. Roads are being rehabilitated and more and more hotels are opening up. We are also privatising various operations in the transport sector, and the country as a whole has made significant progress in improving the business climate and making processes more efficient and transparent, as our improved ranking in the global ‘Doing Business’ report shows. Burundi’s infrastructure development is creating significant opportunities for foreign investors, particularly in our railway projects, new airport construction and transport services on Lake Tanganyika.