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Economy of Burundi

Economy - overview: Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The mainstay of the Burundian economy is agriculture, accounting for 58% of GDP in 1997. Agriculture supports more than 90% of the labor force, the majority of whom are subsistence farmers. Although Burundi is potentially self-sufficient in food production, the ongoing civil war, overpopulation, and soil erosion have contributed to the contraction of the subsistence economy by 25% in recent years. Large numbers of internally displaced persons have been unable to produce their own food and are largely dependent on international humanitarian assistance. Burundi is a net food importer, with food accounting for 17% of imports in 1997.

The main cash crop[?] is coffee, which accounted for 78.5% of exports in 1997. This dependence on coffee has increased Burundi's vulnerability to seasonal yields and international coffee prices. Coffee is the largest state-owned enterprise. In recent years, the government has tried to attract private investment to this sector, with some success. Efforts to privatize other publicly held enterprises have stalled. Other principal exports include tea and raw cotton.

Little industry exists except the processing of agricultural exports. Although potential wealth in petroleum, nickel, copper, and other natural resources is being explored, the uncertain security situation has prevented meaningful investor interest. Industrial development also is hampered by Burundi's distance from the sea and high transport costs. Lake Tanganyika remains an important trading point. The trade embargo, lifted in 1999, negatively impacted trade and industry. Since October 1993 the nation has suffered from massive ethnic-based violence which has resulted in the death of perhaps 250,000 persons and the displacement of about 800,000 others. Foods, medicines, and electricity remain in short supply.

Burundi is heavily dependent on bilateral and multilateral aid, with external debt totaling $1.247 billion in 1997. A series of largely unsuccessful 5-year plans initiated in July 1986 in partnership with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund attempted to reform the foreign exchange system, liberalize imports, reduce restrictions on international transactions, diversify exports, and reform the coffee industry.

IMF structural adjustment programs in Burundi were suspended following the outbreak of the crisis in 1993. The World Bank has identified key areas for potential growth, including the productivity of traditional crops and the introduction of new exports, light manufactures, industrial mining, and services. Other serious problems include the state's role in the economy, the question of governmental transparency, and debt reduction.

To protest the 1996 coup by President Buyoya, neighboring countries imposed an economic embargo on Burundi. Although the embargo was never officially ratified by the United Nations Security Council, most countries refrained from official trade with Burundi. Following the 1996 coup, the United States suspended all but humanitarian aid to Burundi. The regional embargo was lifted on January 23, 1999, based on progress by the government in advancing national reconciliation through the Burundi peace process.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.2 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -1% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $730 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 46%
industry: 17%
services: 37% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line: 36.2% (1990 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 26% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 1.9 million

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 93%, government 4%, industry and commerce 1.5%, services 1.5% (1983 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget:
revenues: $125 million
expenditures: $176 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries: light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes, soap; assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 127 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 1.57%
hydro: 98.43%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 153 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 35 million kWh
note: imports some electricity from Democratic Republic of the Congo (1998)

Agriculture - products: coffee, cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, hides

Exports: $56 million (f.o.b., 1999)

Exports - commodities: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides

Exports - partners: United Kingdom, Germany, Benelux, Switzerland (1998)

Imports: $108 million (f.o.b., 1999)

Imports - commodities: capital goods, petroleum products, foodstuffs

Imports - partners: Benelux, France, Zambia, Germany, Kenya, Japan (1998)

Debt - external: $1.247 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $1.344 billion (1999 est.)

Currency: 1 Burundi franc (FBu) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Burundi francs (FBu) per US$1 - 626.79 (January 2000), 563.56 (1999), 477.77 (1998), 352.35 (1997), 302.75 (1996), 249.76 (1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year

See also : Burundi



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