The Head of State has just launched the rehabilitation and modernization works of the port of Bujumbura. “Production, processing and marketing constitute an essential chain for the development of the country. And, without transport infrastructure, this chain cannot exist… ”, declares Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi. This project will boost trade between Burundi and the countries of the sub-region via Lake Tanganyika.
Experts recommend the use of the lake route cheaper than the road route. Burundi imports its goods via the port of Dar-es-Salaam then the cargoes arrive in Bujumbura by truck. It’s a long journey of 1500 km. Which drives up transport costs. On the other hand, by combining transport by rail and transport by lake, (Dar-es-Salam-Kigoma-port of Bujumbura), the cost of transport can be halved.
The rehabilitation of the port of Bujumbura comes within the context of opening up the country. The head of state remains convinced that by significantly developing maritime transport, Lake Tanganyika will serve as a more effective link with the port of Mpulungu. In this way, it will improve trade between Burundi and the countries bordering Lake Tanganyika. What falls under the AfCFTA. He adds that the project will open up Burundi by connecting it to the countries of southern Africa and even to the Indian Ocean, according to President Ndayishimiye. All this while hoping that the port will boost the Burundian economy weakened by the repetitive crises that Burundi has experienced in its history.
The rehabilitation and modernization project of the port of Bujumbura has encountered quite a few pitfalls. The socio-political crisis of 2015 slowed the completion of the project. Four years later (in June 2019), a US $ 26 million funding agreement was signed between the government of Burundi and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This agreement, which is supposed to revive the modernization project of the port of Bujumbura, has come up against the Coronavirus pandemic. The work, which should start in November 2019, was two years behind schedule.
Lake Tanganyika is full of many opportunities. To facilitate trade, it would be preferable to develop development projects for the ports of Kabonga and Rumonge located respectively in the provinces of Makamba and Rumonge. These two ports receive small boats from neighboring countries, in this case the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are strategic ports for the export of local products, including palm oil, fish, fruits and manufactured products to eastern DRC.