News / Africa

    World Bank Praises Burundi’s Regulatory Reforms

    The government of Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is introducing regulatory reforms to help attract investment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)The government of Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is introducing regulatory reforms to help attract investment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
    x
    The government of Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is introducing regulatory reforms to help attract investment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
    The government of Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is introducing regulatory reforms to help attract investment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
    William Eagle
    The World Bank says Burundi has made strides in reducing regulation and improving its business climate. The East African country ranks fifth among economies that improved the most in the bank’s annual study of economic reforms,  called Doing Business 2013. The first four top improvers are Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

    The survey evaluates governments according to their ability to ease stumbling blocks in creating and operating businesses.  Among the hurdles are dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes and facilitating cross-border trade.

    Of the 185 countries surveyed Burundi ranks159th, 13 places higher than last year.  In last place is Central African Republic.

    The report shows progress in three categories: starting a business, dealing with construction permits and registering property.

    One Stop Shop

    It shows that in Burundi, it used to take about eight days to begin a business, compared to an average of 34 days for the rest of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

    That compares to 32 days for Kenya, 58 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 26 for Tanzania and three for Rwanda.

    But Rachidi Radji, the World Bank’s country manager for Burundi, said it takes even less time today.

    "One concrete, well-known and appreciated thing around here is what they call a One Stop Shop," he says.  "What that means is that today, you can actually open a business in 24 hours, compared to 25-40 days as in the past. "

    Thanks to the One Stop Shop, Burundi has eliminated requirements to have company documents notarized, to have information on new companies published in a journal and to register new companies with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

    Only four steps are required to register a business, half the number needed on average by the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.  

    They include submitting all documents; obtaining a registration certificate; and registering the company with the Department of Work Inspection in the Ministry of Labor, and the National Institute for Social Security. It also includes making a company seal needed by some banks to issue loans. 

    "In the past," says Radji, "it was a nightmare. People said it was too complicated [to start a new business]. If you are a foreign company, you needed a local guide to help you get [through the process, to tell you] which minister you had to go to and so on. Today, you have a unique place where people just get together, the rules of the game are clear. In the past, [registration] cost you roughly 200 dollars. Today the cost average is 45 dollars."

    The Doing Business report also cites advances in addressing another issue that can stifle investment:  the time needed to issue construction permits. The report measures the days and procedures required by a company to build a warehouse, connect it to basic utilities and register the property.

    To solve the problem, Burundi has made it easier to get a permit by eliminating a clearance from the Ministry of Health and reducing the cost of a required geotechnical study. And it has cut the number of procedures for obtaining a permit from 24 to 21and the number of days needed from 137 to 99.

    The government has also made it easier to register property, which is needed as collateral for loans. Investors now need only 64 days to register, compared to 94 previously.  The World Bank says it’s now easier to transfer property because of a new time limit on processing transfer requests.

    As a result of the reforms, the report finds that it’s easier to register property in Burundi than in neighboring Central African Republic, Tanzania and Kenya. But it finds that registration is not as fast as in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    World Bank partnership

    The World Bank is helping the reform effort with the Burundi Investment Climate Program, which works with the government to meet the needs of the business community and simplify taxes for small and medium enterprises. It’s also helping harmonize Burundi’s trade rules and regulations with those of the East African Community, which includes Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

    "Burundi is a very small country," says Radji.  "The only way for it to develop will be to be connected internationally starting with the East African Community, which is a quite sizeable market. Beyond that, it can benefit by joining other bilateral trade arrangements. But for the time being, the emphasis has first of all been on laying the foundation (for growth and investment), taking on regional and then more broadly international opportunities. "

    Not all reviews of Burundi’s reform efforts are positive.

    Allegations of corruption

    Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index rated it near the bottom of 174 countries in terms of corruption. http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/in_detail/

    It placed Burundi ahead of Chad, Sudan and Somali, but behind Zimbabwe, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

    The State Department’s Investment Climate Statement for 2012 says the president of Burundi has taken the lead in fighting corruption as part of his strategy for good governance. He established three units: a special Anticorruption Brigade, an Anticorruption Court and a Court of Auditors.

    Burundi is also a signatory to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery and is part of the East African Anti-Corruption Authority.

    But the State Department says an under sourced civil service and police force means laws and regulations prohibiting corrupt practices are rarely enforced.

    It says it’s too early to tell how successful the government’s anti-corruption program will be. 

    However, it says no foreign firms have lodged complaints against the Burundian government under any of these agreements. And no major U.S. firms have cited corruption as an obstacle to direct investment.

    Rashidi of the World Bank says his organization’s programs are focusing on corruption and good governance.

    He compares economic reform, which include the fight against corruption, to a marathon. Despite any setbacks, he said the runner must keep going and going.

    Listen to report on Burundi
    Listen to report on Burundii
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.