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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Burundi

Burundi: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Burundi

Lightweight suits are necessary. April to October and December to January are the best times to visit.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1400-1730.

Economy

Subsistence agriculture employs 90% of the workforce and accounts for approximately half of the total economic output. Cassava and sweet potatoes are the main subsistence crops, while coffee (the country's leading export), tea and cotton are the main cash crops. Hides and skins also produce valuable income.

The country's small mining industry produces gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum. Deposits of vanadium, uranium and nickel (perhaps 5% of known global reserves) have also been located and are due to be exploited in the near future. Oil deposits are believed to be present, although the quantities are unknown. Manufacturing is confined to small textile concerns.

Burundi has economic cooperation agreements with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo through the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries and is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and of the International Coffee Organisation. Burundi is also a member of the African Union (AU) and the World Tourism Organisation.

As one of the poorest countries in the world, with an annual per capita income of just US$100, Burundi remains heavily dependent on foreign aid, principally from France, Germany, Belgium (these three are also its major sources of imports), the EU and the World Bank.

Burundi's major export markets are the countries of the CFA Franc zone, which take approximately one-third of the total.

GDP

US$1.5 billion (2010).

Main exports

Coffee, tea, sugar, cotton and hides.

Main imports

Capital goods, petroleum products and foodstuffs.

Main trading partners

Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Thailand, USA, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, France, Rwanda and Zambia.

Keeping in Touch in Burundi

Mobile Phone

Coverage mainly in the west of the country.

Internet

Available in some areas. There are a few Internet cafés in Bujumbura.

Media

Burundi's media are self-censored and also receive occasional government censorship. Nevertheless, a range of political views are sometimes aired. There is a high turnover rate for newspapers. The sale of newspapers is quite low due to small print runs and low levels of literacy. The main source of information for many Burundians is therefore the radio. The only radio station with national coverage is government-owned, as is Burundi's only TV station.

Post Office hours

The main office in Bujumbura is open Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1400-1730, Sat 0830-1200.