In terms of international investment, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Burundi rose from an average 0,5 million USD in 1999 to 10 million USD in 2009 (UNCTAD, 2010), a twenty–fold increase in 10 years. This is due in large part to the stabilization of the political situation and the actions taken by the government in recent years to attract FDI.
The Government of Burundi’s official attitude toward foreign direct investment is reflected in the new Investment Code, which was formally enacted in September 2008. The investment code aims to attract and reassure foreign investors by encouraging and facilitating acquisitions, production, transformation and distribution of goods and services. The investment code outlines the government desire to stimulate foreign investment but highlights a continuing lack of transparent, specific regulations to foster significant foreign investment.
Foreign investors in Burundi can count on sound business–conducive policy environment which guarantees equal and fair treatment of all foreign and local enterprises. Not only Burundi has no overall economic or industrial strategies that discriminate against foreign investors, but it has no general limits on foreign ownership or control of enterprises nor are there established processes or criteria for the review of foreign investments. The 2008 Investment Code provides a streamlined and fair process for all investors, whether locally or foreign–based.
Burundi Judicial System
Furthermore Burundi’s judicial system upholds the sanctity of contracts. In case of a dispute involving foreign interests, a Centre for Arbitration and Mediation has been established by the government to handle such issues. Additionally the plaintiff has the option of referring its complaint to either the national courts or an international arbiter.
There is no explicit discrimination against foreign investors at any stage of the investment process, nor are there any laws or regulations specifically authorizing private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association which limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control.
There are no restrictions on business sectors open to foreign investments, with the exception of arms and military enterprises, investments in this sector are conducted on a government–to–government basis.
The government is in the process of privatizing Burundi’s coffee industry –– the largest source of foreign exports – and with many foreign companies purchasing Burundian coffee, the interest in investing in this industry is high.
Major investment projects in Burundi have originated in Kenya, Switzerland, India, Uganda and the United States mostly in the financial services sector. Some of the recent investments into Burundi include :
- Jubilee Holding (Kenya) – financial services
- Commercial Bank of Africa (Kenya) – financial services
- Kenya Commercial Bank (Kenya) – financial services
- Diamond Trust Bank (Kenya, Switzerland) – financial services
- Aga Khan Development Network (Switzerland) – financial services
- United Bank of Africa (Nigeria) – financial services
- Global Trust Bank (Uganda) – financial services
- Healthcare Global Enterprise (India) – health services