BUJUMBURA March 13th (ABP) – Burundi, a member State of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAf), is continuing its integration into the intra-African market. To achieve this, the country must prepare itself so that it is not simply a consumer market but also benefits from the advantages offered by this market by selling large quantities of products.
With that in mind, Trade General Manager Sévérin Wakarerwa, brought together, on Friday March 10, 2023, economic operators operating on Burundian territory to discuss the mechanisms to be adopted to prepare the country to integrate into that market and to take advantage of it.
Mr. Wakarerwa said that the start of the ZLECAf, which was planned for 2019, was delayed for several reasons, citing the Covid-19 and the submission of offers from the States Parties. Seven countries have taken the lead by creating, in July 2022, the “Guided Market Initiative”. Those countries are Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tanzania which have already carried out about 100 exchanges, Mr. Wakarerwa said, adding that Burundi intends to join them but that it needs to prepare for it, hence the purpose of the session. He revealed that Burundi has expressed its desire to be among 23 pilot countries for the African Observatory project, to allow economic operators to have information that will allow them to access the ZLECAf market and to have information on their potential competitors and anticipate the strategies to adopt to position themselves on the market.
Nevertheless, as Mr. Wakarerwa continued to say, Burundi needs ZLECAf support to improve its road, lake and rail infrastructure and to set up a national institutional monitoring framework.
As commitments and recommendations, a meeting with all economic operators has been scheduled for early April. The latter were recommended to expand their production scope. The government was asked to support economic operators whenever necessary, and to reduce the administrative procedure for export. It was noted that this procedure causes delays to such an extent that Burundian products spend three weeks before having the necessary documents while in other countries, three days are enough to get them. To remedy this, the government was asked to create one-stop shops.