The Eastern African region is said to be particularly rich in fuel and gas reserves, with at least 28 prospective sedimentary basins out of which Burundi has two, which have not been exploited yet.
Most energy consumed in Burundi comes from wood and charcoal (about 95%). Other forms of energy include petroleum products, hydropower and peat. The country’s electrification rate is very low (1.8%) and more than 90% of electricity is consumed in Bujumbura.
The hydropower potential is 1,700 megawatts (MW) of power theory, of which 300 MW is considered economically exploitable. At present, only 32 MW are operated. In addition, Burundi imports about 40% of its energy consumption, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Telecommunications and providers (mobile and fixed; local and international)
The biggest investments that Burundi has known since the beginning of the crisis were in the telecommunications sector, characterized by high flow of FDI in 2000, valued at 11.7 million USD. This peak was due to the liberalization of mobile telephony put forward by the government in the 2000s.Two licenses were indeed granted to foreign companies, Africell and Spacetel (Econet), whose respective international partners are Alcatel in France and Ericsson in Sweden.
The same year, the U.S. USAN Burundi has established itself as an internet service provider. In 2008, the Egyptian company Orascom bought U–Com, owned by the Indian group Global Vision. In addition, two additional licenses were awarded, one to HITS Telecom a joint venture Uganda–Saudi Arabia, and the other to a Nepalese company called Lacelle SU (Smart Mobile).
Regarding telecommunications, the country has four fixed telephone lines per 1,000 inhabitants mostly in urban areas. While 90% of the population lives in rural areas and 90% of subscribers are located in urban areas, network coverage in the country is very low. There are six operators, the largest of which is U–Com (formerly known as Télécel), a company that was recently privatized.
Other operators include the public operator ONATEL, which offers fixed and mobile telephony services, followed by foreign private operators Africell, Econet, Lacelle SU and HITS Telecom. The current telephone density is 2.5 lines per 100 inhabitants (fixed and mobile combined) (UNDP and Vice–Ministry of Planning, 2008).
Regarding the Internet, estimates point to 14,000 users in Burundi, five users per 1,000 inhabitants. Internet service providers include CBINET, USAN Burundi, ONATEL and U–Com.
Water and Sewage Rates
Currently various sources of water (including the Tanganyika Lake) provide water to 71% of the population of Burundi. The Ministry of Water, Energy and Mining is responsible for the water sector. The Tanganyika Lake has great potential not just for transport and fishing but also for tourism and water sectors as well.
The role of donors is also essential. To this end, the multi–sectoral water and electricity infrastructure project launched in 2008 and funded by the World Bank for 50 million USD is an encouraging initiative. This project aims to increase access to drinking water service in Bujumbura and strengthen the operational capacities of key sector institutions including the Ministry of Water, Energy and Mining. This program will be a great way to encourage initiatives such as :
- The creation of a technical team that is able to define a reform strategy
- A policy and investment strategy to improve the generation, distribution and marketing of electricity and water, and
- Coordination of the various technical assistance initiatives
In addition, it is recommended that Burundi maximizes the benefit to be derived from existing investment programmes, including those from African or regional initiatives such as NEPAD and the African Development Bank (ADB). These organizations have indeed made water access and investment in infrastructure a real priority and can contribute to the development of Burundi. Most importantly, Burundi must take advantage of its entry in the EAC by participating in regional infrastructure development projects.
Domestic and Industrial Electricity Rates
The country’s electrification rate is very low (1.8%) and more than 90% of electricity is consumed in Bujumbura. The hydropower potential is 1,700 megawatts (MW) of power theory, of which 300 MW is considered economically exploitable. At present, only 32 MW are operated. In addition, Burundi imports about 40% of its energy consumption, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.