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Contact at AFI team is Du Toit McLachlan
This entry was last updated on 30 August 2022 using IFs v7.63.

In this entry, we first describe the Current Path forecast for Burundi as it is expected to unfold to 2043, the end of the third ten-year implementation plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 long-term vision for Africa.

The Current Path forecast is divided into summaries on demographics, economics, poverty, health/WaSH and climate change/energy. A second section then presents a single positive scenario for potential improvements in stability, demographics, health/WaSH, agriculture, education, manufacturing/transfers, leapfrogging, free trade, financial flows, infrastructure, governance and the impact of various scenarios on carbon emissions. With the individual impact of these sectors and dimensions having been considered, a final section presents the impact of the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario. 

We generally review the impact of each scenario and the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario on gross domestic product per person and extreme poverty except for Health/WaSH that uses life expectancy and infant mortality. 

The information is presented graphically and supported by brief interpretive text. 

All US$ numbers are in 2017 values.

Summary

  • The Current Path forecast indicates that Burundi will:
    • experience rapid urbanisation but remain a predominantly rural country with the urban population equalling 21% and 6 million extra people living in rural areas by 2043. Jump to Demographics: Current Path
    • continue to a have low level of GDP per capita that rises to US$1 297 by 2043, just above its 1991 level. Jump to Economics: Current Path
    • struggle to alleviate extreme poverty with an additional 3.1 million people living in extreme poverty by 2043. Jump to Poverty: Current Path
    • Burundi’s carbon emissions will increase from 0.2 million tons in 2019 to 1.4 million tons in 2043. Relative to the rest of Africa, however, this increase is modest. Jump to Carbon emissions/Energy: Current Path
  • Sectoral Scenarios
    • In the Stability scenario, 460 000 fewer people are extremely poor by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast. Jump to Stability scenario
    • The Demographic scenario projects that Burundi will experience a first demographic dividend 11 years earlier than on the Current Path forecast, driven by a decrease in total fertility rates of 0.7 children per woman by 2043. Jump to Demographic scenario
    • In 2043, life expectancy could increase by 7.5 years in the Health/WaSH scenario, a rise of 0.4 compared to the Current Path. Jump to Health/WASH scenario
    • In the Agriculture scenario, a 96% increase in yields per hectare results in a 38.7 percentage-point reduction in food import dependency. Jump to Agriculture scenario
    • The Education scenario increases Burundi’s GDP per capita to US$1 334 by 2043. Jump to Education scenario
    • In the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario, the number of poor people is reduced by nearly a quarter of million people by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast. Jump to Manufacturing/Transfers scenario
    • In the Leapfrogging scenario, electricity access increases by 23.6 percentage points in 2043, 10 percentage points higher than in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Leapfrogging scenario
    • The Free Trade scenario boosts GDP per capita by US$158 above the Current Path forecast to reach US$1 455 in 2043. Jump to Free Trade scenario
    • In the Financial Flows scenario, remittances increase by US$30 million compared to the Current Path forecast. Jump to Financial Flows scenario
    • The Infrastructure scenario will see a 3.9 percentage-point increase in the rural population with access to an all-weather road in 2043, above the Current Path forecast. Jump to Infrastructure scenario
    • In the Governance scenario, GDP per capita rises to US$1 341 by 2043. Jump to Governance scenario
    • The Free Trade scenario increases carbon emissions more than any other scenario by 2043, with the Agriculture and Stability scenarios following in second and third place. Jump to Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions
  • The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario will result in:

All charts for Burundi

Chart 1: Political map of Burundi
Chart
Burundi: Current Path forecast

Burundi: Current Path forecast

This page provides an overview of the key characteristics of Burundi along its likely (or Current Path) development trajectory. The Current Path forecast from the International Futures forecasting (IFs) platform is a dynamic scenario that imitates the continuation of current policies and environmental conditions. The Current Path is therefore in congruence with historical patterns and produces a series of dynamic forecasts endogenised in relationships across crucial global systems. We use 2019 as a standard reference year and the forecasts generally extend to 2043 to coincide with the end of the third ten-year implementation plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 long-term development vision.

Burundi is a landlocked, low-income country situated in East Africa, hemmed in by the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the west, Rwanda from the north and Tanzania from the east. The country is a member of both the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the East African Community (EAC). As Chart 1 shows, Burundi borders Lake Tanganyika and its commercial capital Bujumbura sits on the lake’s shore. Burundi’s surface area amounts to 27 830 km2, 7.7% of which is water, a relatively small area for the estimated 11.1 million people living in the country.[1The World FactbookThe population, composed primarily of Hutus and a minority of Tutsis, has a high-density ranking, amongst the highest in Africa. [2The World Bank, 2021, Population density (people per sq. km of land area) - Burundi ]

The country is divided into two distinct climatic regions: a tropical savanna climate and a subtropical highland climate. There are two wet seasons, with peak rainfall occurring in March and November, while the two dry seasons are from June to August and December to January. Clear rain variability over the medium term has contributed to more than 3 million people being affected by droughts between 1996 and 2016, showing how vulnerable Burundi’s population is to natural disasters and climate change. [3African Development Bank, 2019, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi October 2018]

Chart 1: Political map of Burundi
Chart
Demographics: Current Path

Demographics: Current Path

Chart 2 shows population growth by age cohort from 1990 to 2043, and each cohort as a percentage of the total for 2019 and 2043. Burundi’s total population was 11.1 million in 2019 and is forecast to grow at an average rate of 2.4%, reaching a total of 19.9 million people in 2043. The composition of this growing population is expected to gradually increase the size of the working-age cohort as the country’s high total fertility rate decreases from 5.4 in 2019 to 3.5 in 2043, still significantly above the replacement rate of 2.1 and above the average for low-income countries in Africa. Thus, although the potential work force in relation to dependants is growing, the high fertility rates will continue to put pressure on food supply and the environment.

Chart 3 shows the extent to which Burundi’s population is heavily concentrated in rural areas, with 87% of the population residing there in 2019. Although urbanisation rates are relatively high compared to other low-income countries, only 21% of the population is projected to live in urban areas by 2043, compared to the average 41% for low-income countries in Africa. As a result, an additional 6 million people will be living in rural areas by 2043, which will likely hinder agricultural productivity. Appropriate planning is needed to implement sustainable farming practices, including control of erosion and habitat loss.

The level of population density, shown in Chart 4, is expected to increase significantly, rising from 4.3 people per hectare in 2019 to 7.7 per hectare in 2043. Burundi’s population is concentrated in the north-western parts of the country, mainly inhabiting areas with fertile volcanic soil—ideal for agricultural use. [4The World Factbook

Chart 4: Population density map for 2019
Chart
Economics: Current Path

Economics: Current Path

Chart 5 shows Burundi’s historical GDP and how it is projected to increase to 2043. The country has a small economy, ranking in the bottom ten in Africa and relies heavily on foreign aid and the export of coffee and tea. The robust growth shown in Chart 5 is driven by an increase in the size of the population as the economy nearly quadruples in size from US$2.8 billion to US$8.1 billion by 2043.

Although many of the charts in the sectoral scenarios also include GDP per capita, this overview is an essential point of departure for interpreting the general economic outlook of Burundi

As Chart 6 shows, the projected GDP per capita growth will be limited along the Current Path forecast, with the average Burundian having only US$500 or so more in 2043 compared to 2019. This rate of improvement compares poorly to other low-income economies in Africa, who on average will experience a growth of over US$2 100. The combination of low projected GDP growth and brisk population growth means increases in GDP per capita will remain low. 

The contribution of informal economic activity to GDP in Burundi has historically been 5 percentage points larger compared to the average for low-income countries in Africa, equating to 35% of GDP in 2019, as shown in Chart 7. Working in the informal sector is the norm in Burundi, with 72.7% of the non-agricultural labour force being classified as informal labour in 2019. Although the informal economy does provide a means through which to survive, the sector contributes little to government revenues. The value of the informal economy in Burundi will be 5 percentage points lower in 2043 compared to 2019, progress that mirrors trends in both low-income economies in Africa and the EAC regional economic community.

The IFs platform uses data from the Global Trade and Analysis Project (GTAP) to classify economic activity into six sectors: agriculture, energy, materials (including mining), manufactures, services and information and communications technology (ICT).

The sectoral composition of the economy shows why the government of Burundi has earmarked a rejuvenation of the agricultural sector as a top priority. In 2019, agriculture accounted for 31% of the economy. Although services add the most value at 48%, they are mostly low-end activities in the informal sector that are barely more productive than subsistence farming. The contribution from agriculture is followed by manufacturing; the agriculture sector employs over 85% of the population.[5The World Bank, 2021, Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate) - Burundi] This discrepancy is mainly due to the majority of the population engaging in subsistence farming and thus adding little value to products they sell and consuming the rest for survival. Decreasing levels of productivity are mainly attributable to low levels of input due to a lack of finances and increasing land shortages. [6KIPPRA AND UNECA, 2017, A Scoping Study on Burundi’s Agricultural Production in a Changing Climate and the Supporting Policies]

The sectoral composition of the Burundian economy is projected to gradually shift, with the service sector further increasing in size while agriculture shrinks and manufacturing slowly grows, although from a low base. Chart 8 shows these trends: agriculture being overtaken by manufacturing in 2036 as services grow to constitute 59% of value added in 2043. The growing importance of the service sector is a trend experienced throughout sub-Saharan Africa and low-income economies in Africa, but because of its relatively low productivity compared to manufacturing and given the size of the informal sector, Burundi is growing below its potential.

The data on agricultural production and demand in the IFs forecasting platform initialises from data provided on food balances by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). IFs contains data on numerous types of agriculture but aggregates its forecast into crops, meat and fish, presented in million metric tons. Chart 9 shows agricultural production and demand as a total of all three categories.

The increasing divergence between production and demand in Burundi is clearly shown in Chart 9. As noted earlier, the country’s population will continue to grow rapidly, while agricultural production is hampered by dwindling land per capita and lack of inputs. Decreasing land per capita is partially attributable to existing plots being continuously divided up between heirs when the original owner passes away. Overuse of these plots then contributes to lower levels of production, a situation worsened by increasing rain variability caused by climate change. Importantly, the country’s agriculture is mostly rainfed, making it more susceptible to increased variability and negative rainfall trends. Burundi is expected to experience moderate increases in overall rainfall but a decline in rainy days, pointing towards more extreme periods of rainfall that are harmful to crops. [7African Development Bank, 2019, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi October 2018] This combination of factors will negatively impact the country’s ability to meet its rising demand, with the deficit increasing to 4.6 million metric tons by 2043.

Poverty: Current Path

Poverty: Current Path

There are numerous methodologies and approaches to defining poverty. We measure income poverty and use GDP per capita as a proxy. In 2015, the World Bank adopted the measure of US$1.90 per person a day (in 2011 international prices), also used to measure progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty. To account for extreme poverty in richer countries occurring at slightly higher levels of income than in poor countries, the World Bank introduced three additional poverty lines in 2017:

  • US$3.20 for lower middle-income countries
  • US$5.50 for upper middle-income countries
  • US$22.70 for high-income countries.

Burundi is a low-income country, falling far below the World Bank’s gross national income per capita threshold for lower middle-income status. The country’s low level of income per person translates to the image sketched by Chart 10: a country whose population is plagued by extreme poverty, with 76.7% of Burundi’s inhabitants surviving on less than US$1.90 a day in 2019. Due to rapid population growth, this number is projected to decline to 58.4% in 2043, but the number of poor people is expected to increase by more than 3 million compared to 2019.

The high levels of poverty seem surprising, given the extremely low levels of unemployment. The International Labour Organization estimated that Burundi’s unemployment rate was as low as 0.8% in 2020, ranking fourth in the world at the time. [8The World Bank, 2021, Unemployment, total (% of total labor force) (modeled ILO estimate) – Burundi] Indeed, the average unemployment rate has averaged 1.7% from 1991 to 2020, never reaching higher than 1.9%.

The concept of the working poverty rate becomes salient when considering this apparent contradiction between levels of employment and persistent poverty. The working poverty rate quantifies the percentage of people who are employed or active in the informal sector but are still considered poor. Burundi’s working poverty rate is unsurprisingly very high: 78% of employed persons are considered extremely poor. [9International Labour Organisation, 2021, Statistics on the working poor] These high rates usually go hand in hand with levels of informality in the economy, a problem highlighted above. The quality of employment in the informal sector is an area of concern as it is often characterised by low hourly earnings and reduced job security. [10International Labour Organisation, The Working Poor or How a Job Is No Guarantee of Decent Living Conditions, April 2019] Against this backdrop, high levels of projected poverty in Burundi along the Current Path forecast will continue to be an issue going forward.

Carbon Emissions/Energy: Current Path

Carbon Emissions/Energy: Current Path

The IFs platform forecasts six types of energy, namely oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear and other renewables. To allow comparisons between different types of energy, the data is converted into billion barrels of oil equivalent. The energy contained in a barrel of oil is approximately 5.8 million British thermal units (MBTUs) or 1 700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy.

The composition of Burundi’s energy mix shown in Chart 11 indicates the level to which the country relies on natural gas. In 2019, 86.1% of energy production stemmed from gas, whereas hydro power accounted for only 11.1% and nuclear 2.8%. Other renewables (solar and wind) are forecast to dominate in time, constituting 66.7% of energy production in 2043, compared to 17.8% for gas. The total energy production is not, however, expected to increase significantly in this time, growing slowly from 0.004 BBOE in 2019 to 0.005 BBOE in 2043.

Consequently, energy demand will predominantly be met through imports, which will overtake production in BBOE by 2028. A relatively low level of foreign reserves as a percentage of GDP will hamper these imports and constrain economic activity. Hydropower has the greatest potential to boost local energy production should investment occur, but only 2% of the potential is currently being harnessed. [11United Nations Environment Programme, Burundi, 2017]

Carbon is released in many ways, but the three most important contributors to greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). Since each has a different molecular weight, IFs uses carbon. Many other sites and calculations use CO2 equivalent.

Chart 12 shows Burundi’s level of carbon emissions, increasing from 0.2 million tons in 2019 to 1.4 million tons in 2043. Relative to the rest of Africa, however, this increase is modest. Globally, Burundi ranks within the bottom 12% of carbon emissions, testament to the low levels of industrial and manufacturing activity in the country and reflected in the small size of the Burundian economy discussed earlier.

Although Burundi is clearly a low emitter and a small contributor to climate change, the effects of global environmental degradation and rising air temperatures will still be keenly felt in the country. Worryingly, Burundi ranks high in the ND-Gain Country Index for climate vulnerability but low for readiness to handle the consequences of climatic change. [12Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Climate Change Profile – Burundi, April 2018]

Increasing temperatures between 1.5 °C and 2.5 °C by 2050 are projected, while coastal regions could be 3 °C to 5.5 °C warmer in 2100. [13African Development Bank, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi, October 2018] Combined with the increase of extreme rainfall events, as discussed above, Burundi’s crucial agricultural sector faces numerous potential challenges that require substantial planning to overcome. These include increased soil erosion, a shifting growing season and increased livestock deaths due to lack of water and rising temperatures. [14African Development Bank, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi, October 2018]

Stability scenario

Stability scenario

The Stability scenario represents reasonable but ambitious reductions in risk of regime instability and lower levels of internal conflict. Stability is generally a prerequisite for other aspects of development and this would encourage inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) and improve business confidence. Better governance through the accountability that follows substantive democracy is modelled separately.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

The modelled intervention of the scenario is shown in Chart 13, in which the governance security index score increased from 0.64 in 2019 to 0.80 in 2033 to simulate decreased regime instability and a more peaceful populace. [15The security index ranges from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest, most desirable number] An increase of this magnitude would represent remarkable progress for a country plagued by internal conflict and political unrest since its independence in 1962. Since then, seven major coups d’état have been recorded, with five ultimately leading to regime change. [16JD Nkurunziza, 2018, The Origin and Persistence of State Fragility in Burundi]

Already ravaged by a protracted and extremely deadly civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s, the country experienced a further bout of violence and political unrest in 2015. Then President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term in office, a decision widely considered to be unconstitutional. A failed coup attempt followed, sparking violence, severe state repressions [17JD Nkurunziza, 2018, The Origin and Persistence of State Fragility in Burundi] and an outflowing of refugees into neighbouring countries. [18T Nathalie, 2015, A day in the history of conflicts: How Burundi got here ] When some refugees later returned, problems regarding access to limited land and basic infrastructure followed. [19The World Factbook]

Addressing this recurring pattern of violence and political upheaval constitutes a significant hurdle for development. The episode in 2015 not only hampered local attempts at economic growth but also led to reduced donor confidence and a subsequent decline in foreign aid—a source of income that Burundi heavily relies upon. Foreign investment is also negatively impacted by instability, a truth borne out when looking at the country’s investor confidence indicator for Africa score. Compiled by the USAfrica Business Center, the score is a composite of 12 international evaluations on security, development and governance, such as the Fragile States Index and the Global Peace Index. [20USAfrica Business Center, Burundi.] Burundi’s low score of 34.18 out of 100 is negatively impacted by low scores in evaluations on state fragility, peace and democracy.

Chart 14 shows the potential increase in GDP per capita associated with the Stability scenario. In 2043, the average Burundian could have an extra US$57 each year, an 4.4% increase compared to the Current Path forecast. The country would however still be 64.3% below the average GDP per capita for low-income countries and 71.7% below the EAC’s average in 2043.

The impact of the Stability scenario on poverty is substantial, as shown in Chart 15. The number of Burundians who will be living on less than US$1.90 a day in 2043 is projected to be 11.1 million, a reduction of 460 000 people compared to the Current Path forecast. This means that 56.2% of the population is still forecast to be extremely poor in 2043, a reduction of 20.5 percentage points compared to 2019. A decline of that magnitude is significant but would still place Burundi’s poverty rate significantly above the EAC’s and the low-income economies in Africa’s Current Path projections. The promotion of stability is generally a prerequisite for development, but additional efforts are needed, particularly regarding the rule of law and policy certainty.

Demographic scenario

Demographic scenario

This section presents the impact of a demographic scenario that aims to hasten and increase the demographic dividend where relevant through reasonable but ambitious reductions in the communicable-disease burden for children under five, the maternal mortality ratio and increased access to modern contraception.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

Demographers typically differentiate between a first, second and even a third demographic dividend. We focus here on the first dividend, namely the contribution of the size and quality of the labour force to incomes. It refers to a window of opportunity that opens when the ratio of the working-age population (between 15 and 64 years of age) to dependants (children and the elderly) reaches 1.7.

Burundi will get to a rate of 1.7 working-age persons to dependants in 2042 in the Demographic scenario, 11 years earlier than projected along the Current Path forecast. The country has never reached this point before, due in part to high levels of infant mortality and sustained levels of high total fertility rates. As noted earlier, population growth has been, and will continue to be, rapid along the Current Path forecast, with the fertility rate only dropping to 3.5 in 2043. The interventions of the Demographic scenario, however, reduce this rate to 2.8 by 2043, contributing to the earlier-than-expected period of demographic dividend.

The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1 000 live births and is an important marker of the overall quality of the health system in a country.

High infant mortality rates decrease the likelihood of a demographic transition happening. The Demographic scenario reduces the infant mortality rate below the sustainable development goal of 25 per 1 000 live births by 2032, seven years earlier than the Current Path forecast. In 2043, the rate would have decreased to 17.8, better than Africa’s low-income economies rate of 21.2 and the EAC’s rate of 21.9.

The Demographic scenario has a minimal impact on GDP per capita, as seen in Chart 18, with a small increase of US$44 in 2043. In a reverse of the Stability scenario, the Demographic scenario does little to increase GDP on its own, although it does tackle the issue of excessive population growth. The scenario does indeed speed up the time frame for reaching the demographic dividend, but without concomitant improvements in the quality of labour and the size of the informal sector, this potential demographic boon will do little for GDP.

Chart 19 paints a healthy picture regarding the number of people in extreme poverty, indicating that nearly 900 000 fewer people will be extremely poor in 2043 along the Demographic scenario compared to the Current Path forecast. The impact on the poverty rate is less positive however, with a decrease of 1.5 percentage points in 2043. The scenario’s interventions reduce population size, meaning the absolute number of poor people will decrease automatically. Percentage-wise, the share of the reduced population still living in poverty remains largely constant and stubbornly high compared to low-income economies in Africa.

Health/WaSH scenario

Health/WaSH scenario

This section presents reasonable but ambitious improvements in the Health/WaSH scenario, which include reductions in the mortality rate associated with both communicable diseases (e.g. AIDS, diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory infections) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (e.g. diabetes), as well as improvements in access to safe water and better sanitation. The acronym WaSH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

Poor access to safe water and adequate sanitation facilities plays a major role in combating communicable diseases. The lack of these resources enables communicable diseases to spread more easily as transmission is facilitated by unhygienic environments. In 2019, 20% of the population did not have access to safe water, and only 35% of the population accessed water through piping. Similarly, access to sanitation was inadequate, with less than 48% of the population using improved sanitation facilities.[21Improved access to sanitation refers to facilities that are likely to ensure separation between a person and human excrement, for example a pour/flush toilet linked to a sewage system, a ventilated improved pit latrine or a pit latrine with a slab (International Futures v7.63).] These rates, although a topic of concern, are better than the averages for low-income economies in Africa and the EAC.

The Health/WaSH scenario’s interventions result in increased access to improved water and sanitation for Burundi, with only 9.1% of the population accessing unsafe water in 2043, compared to 9.8% along the Current Path forecast. Similarly, access to improved sanitation increases, with a nearly 5 percentage-point increase in access to improved sanitation by 2043.

The consequence of these interventions is non-communicable disease-related deaths surpassing communicable disease-related deaths by 2028 instead of 2030. Thus, communicable disease-related deaths will constitute a smaller share of the national death rate, as non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular and malignant neoplasm, account for a greater share of mortalities.

Chart 20 shows the effect that the changes brought on by the Health/WaSH scenario will have on life expectancy in Burundi, increasing from 69.1 years to 69.6 years for the whole population in 2043. These increases come from a low base of 62.2 years in 2019, which compared poorly with other low-income economies in Africa, whose average life expectancy was 63.8 years at the same stage. Worryingly, even with the positive interventions of the Health/WaSH scenario, Burundi will struggle to significantly close this gap between its low-income counterparts and Africa as a whole.

A decline in infant mortality compared to the Current Path forecast is shown in Chart 21, with 2.4 fewer deaths per 1 000 live births in 2043. The reduction is explainable by the above-mentioned decrease in communicable diseases, specifically malaria, which continues to account for the majority of deaths of children aged five and under. [22IK Moise, 2018, Causes of Morbidity and Mortality among Neonates and Children in Post-Conflict Burundi: A Cross-Sectional Retrospective Study, Children, 5(9) ] The country has repeatedly faced endemic levels of the disease throughout the 21st century, a disease which disproportionately affects children and is worsened by factors such a population density, climate change and shifting agricultural practices, all problems Burundi continues to grapple with. [23reliefweb, Burundi: One million children at risk of contracting malaria by Christmas, 24 November 2017] The interventions simulated by the Health/WaSH scenario go some distance toward addressing the problem, but a holistic approach is needed to fully overcome it.

Agriculture scenario

Agriculture scenario

The Agriculture scenario represents reasonable but ambitious increases in yields per hectare (reflecting better management and seed and fertilizer technology), increased land under irrigation and reduced loss and waste. Where appropriate, it includes an increase in calorie consumption, reflecting the prioritisation of food self-sufficiency above food exports as a desirable policy objective.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

The data on yields per hectare (in metric tons) is for crops but does not distinguish between different categories of crops.

The agricultural sector is a very important cog in Burundi’s economy, employing the vast majority of its population and accounting for most of its foreign currency earnings through the export of coffee and tea. The sector accounted for 31% of the country’s total GDP in 2019 and for 85% of employment. Most farmers engage in subsistence-level activities, focusing more on own consumption than producing commercial crops. Lack of resources also inhibit the usage of inputs such as inorganic fertilizers, while high population density translates into a low ratio of arable land per person (0.1 hectare in 2018) further limits productivity. [24The World Bank, Arable land (hectares per person) – Burundi] A further problem for agricultural production in the country is the lack of irrigated land: only 0.2% of cropland was irrigated in 2019. Dependence on rainfall caused by lack of irrigation makes the sector particularly vulnerable to the larger climate variability associated with climate change.

The Agriculture scenario addresses these issues, and Chart 22 shows that Burundi’s average yield per hectare would nearly double by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, rising from 4.7 tons per hectare to 9.2 tons per hectare. An increase of this magnitude would place it above the average yield of lower middle-income economies.

 

The potential for increased productivity is sizeable, as evidenced by these figures, and is urgently needed in a country where 2 million people were food insecure in June 2021. [25reliefweb, Burundi – Situation report, 4 June 2021] Of greater concern is the chronic nature of food insecurity, with an estimated 48% of the population facing moderate to severe chronic food insecurity. [26IPC, 2014, Burundi: Chronic Food Insecurity Situation December 2014–2019] Burundi struggles to meet its food availability requirements and produces 35% less food than is needed. [27IPC, 2014, Burundi: Chronic Food Insecurity Situation December 2014–2019] Chart 23 illustrates how the lack of productivity is projected to manifest in an ever-increasing dependence on food imports, reaching 41% in 2043 in the Current Path forecast. The Agriculture scenario reduces this dependence significantly, with imports accounting for only 2.3% in 2043. The sizeable reduction is due to agricultural production nearly doubling in relation to the Current Path forecast matching agricultural demand and mirroring the increases in yield per hectare discussed above. A decreased dependence on food imports would leave Burundi less at risk of international food price fluctuations and decrease the need for international food aid to meet demand.

The Agriculture scenario has the second biggest impact on GDP per capita amongst the 11 scenarios that are modelled, potentially increasing by US$146 in 2043 over the Current Path forecast. The increase is unsurprising as the agricultural sector would contribute 22.3% to GDP in 2043, a 62.3% increase in size compared to the Current Path forecast. Thus, instead of decreasing in importance, the sector would continue to be a vital segment of an economy projected to increase by 16.4% by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast.

Poverty reduction is equally impressive. Compared to the Current Path forecast, the number of poor people declines by 2.1 million (or 10.5 percentage points) by 2043. As most of the population is active in this sector, rising agricultural productivity will naturally lead to large increases in income and reduce inequality. Although the potential improvement is impressive, the gap to the poverty levels for the EAC and low-income Africa would remain above 20 percentage points in the scenario.

Education scenario

Education scenario

The Education scenario represents reasonable but ambitious improved intake, transition and graduation rates from primary to tertiary levels and better quality of education. It also models substantive progress towards gender parity at all levels, additional vocational training at secondary school level and increases in the share of science and engineering graduates.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

The education system in Burundi faces many challenges, due in large part to the continued levels of political unrest in the country, specifically the protracted civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s. Progress has been made since then, with primary gross enrolment rates rocketing from 81% in 2005 to 140.8% in 2011, before slowly levelling off at 120%.[28The World Bank, 2020, School enrollment, primary (% gross) – Burundi] The government has indeed focussed a large part of their resources on the educational sector, spending an equivalent of 6.4% of GDP and 20% of total government expenditure in 2018 on education, but low access and high dropout rates are still prevalent, especially for the poorest part of the population. [29UNICEF, 2018, UNICEF strategic plan goal area 2 country profile: Burundi] Gross enrolment rates remain high at primary level, reaching 119% in 2019, but the figure drops sharply for secondary-level schooling, equalling 45.1% in 2019.

The disparity between the poorest quintile and the rest of the population is concerning; in 2017, more than a third of children of the applicable age group in the poorest quintile were not in school, while completion rates at primary level were 28%. [30UIS, Sustainable Development Goals: 4.1.4 Out-of-school rate, primary school age by sex and wealth quintile (household survey data)] Completion rates also vary noticeably between rural and urban areas, with a 22% difference in favour of urban settings. Lack of access to schools and the opportunity costs of not engaging in agricultural work help to explain the low rates in rural areas. Disparities between female and male enrolment are negligible—at secondary level, female enrolment was 6.3% in 2019. Completion rates for primary school also favour girls, but at lower-secondary level the gender parity index is 0.9. Outcomes differ not only between sexes but also income groups and location and must be kept in mind when interpreting educational outcomes.

Chart 26 shows the discrepancy between the sexes, with mean years of education attained by males in 2019 exceeding those of females by nearly a year. The average level for both boys and girls is low as well, equating to 4.6 mean years of education in 2019. This holds with the figures mentioned above regarding the reduced enrolment rates in secondary education, as primary education lasts six years in Burundi. One important factor to consider is that primary tuition is free at public schools, while secondary education tuition fees apply for both public and private institutions.

The interventions of the Education scenario aim to address these shortcomings, increasing mean years of education for both sexes to 6.6 years in 2043, 0.3 years higher than the Current Path forecast. Attaining such a level would equal that of low-income economies in Africa but would not suffice to draw the country level to the EAC’s Current Path projection. The gap between males and females would in fact widen marginally compared to the Current Path forecast by 0.1 years, and female levels would not manage to surpass the Current Path forecast estimation of 6.6 years for males. Evidently, attention must be paid to the gender disparities in the country’s education system.

 

The increase in years of education obtained is an important step towards better skills development, but the quality of tuition needs to be of an appropriate standard as well. In this, Burundi has struggled as their low level of teaching quality and lack of appropriate assessments and examinations have been flagged as problem areas by UNICEF. [31UNICEF, 2018, UNICEF strategic plan goal area 2 country profile: Burundi] Insufficient infrastructure and training leads to overcrowded classrooms and underprepared teachers, a situation exacerbated by the government failing to implement a national strategy for in-service training.[32UNICEF, Education]

These factors begin to explain Burundi’s low level of educational quality as measured in average test scores, as shown in Chart 27. At primary level, average scores were below 25% in 2019, while secondary scores were better at 35.9%. Both are expected to increase only marginally along the Current Path forecast, but the interventions of the Education scenario improve this outlook considerably, illustrating what can be achieved should infrastructure and quality of tuition improve. The average test score is projected to be 35.2% at primary level in the Education scenario by 2043, while secondary scores will reach 45.7%, a 7 percentage-point increase. While still relatively low, these numbers are in line with those projected for low-income Africa, while the EAC performs better on both levels.

Improvements in education take a long time to manifest in increased productivity driven by a more skilled labour force. Additionally, even with the positive interventions of the Education scenario, mean years of education does not significantly exceed the length of time spent in primary school. As such, the impact is fairly small, increasing GDP per capita by only US$37 in 2043 from the US$1 297 projected in the Current Path forecast.

The scenario’s effect on poverty is to decrease the number of extremely poor people by 410 000 by 2043. Percentage-wise however, the reduction is less than 2 percentage points, moving from 58.4% in the Current Path forecast to 56.5% in the Education scenario by 2043.

Manufacturing/transfers scenario

Manufacturing/transfers scenario

The Manufacturing/Transfers scenario represents reasonable but ambitious manufacturing growth through greater investment in the economy, investments in research and development, and promotion of the export of manufactured goods. It is accompanied by an increase in welfare transfers (social grants) to moderate the initial increases in inequality that are typically associated with a manufacturing transition. To this end, the scenario improves tax administration and increases government revenues.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

Chart 30 should be read with Chart 8 that presents a stacked area graph on the contribution to GDP and size, in billion US$, of the Current Path economy for each of the sectors.

The manufacturing sector has historically been a driver of rapid development across the globe. Shifting from the extraction and export of raw materials towards value addition and export of manufactured goods represents an important transition away from an economy rooted in the primary sector. The manufacturing sector in Burundi is underdeveloped and contributes little to employment. Gross capital formation is also low and annual growth rates seesaw, mostly linked to persistent episodes of political upheaval and civil unrest. Investments in the goods and the machinery needed to produce manufactured goods is thus inadequate for a well-developed manufacturing sector capable of exporting manufactured goods. Manufactured goods represent a small proportion of merchandise exports, 8%, while manufactured imports constitute 63% of merchandise imports, as of 2019.[33The World Bank, Manufactures exports (% of merchandise exports) - Burundi]

The Manufacturing/Transfers scenario models the potential impact of a rejuvenation of the manufacturing sector in Burundi, the results of which are shown in Chart 30. Even though the sector would constitute a slightly smaller segment of the economy by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, manufacturing would have added US$110 million more in value. The services sector, however, continues to dominate and contributes 1 percentage point more to GDP than in the Current Path forecast and adds an extra US$520 million to the economy by 2043.

Chart 31 shows the increase in welfare transfers to unskilled workers in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario to emulate government efforts to counter the short-term negative effects of larger investment in industry. In 2043, these transfers would have increased by US$100 million compared to the Current Path forecast.

Given Burundi’s low levels of skills and poor infrastructure, the added investments in the manufacturing sector will not instantaneously bear fruit, as evidenced by the small increase of US$71 in GDP per capita by 2043 in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario. An increase of this magnitude does little to close the gap to both the EAC and low-income Africa by 2043.

Poverty is only marginally impacted too, with Chart 33 showing a decrease of 240 000 people living in extreme poverty by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, and a percentage-point reduction of 1.1.

Leapfrogging scenario

Leapfrogging scenario

The Leapfrogging scenario represents reasonable but ambitious adoption of and investment in renewable energy technologies, resulting in better access to electricity in urban and rural areas. The scenario includes accelerated access to mobile and fixed broadband and the adoption of modern technology that improves government efficiency and allows for the more rapid formalisation of the informal sector.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

Fixed broadband includes cable modem Internet connections, DSL Internet connections of at least 256 KB/s, fibre and other fixed broadband technology connections (such as satellite broadband Internet, ethernet local area networks, fixed-wireless access, wireless local area networks, WiMAX, etc.).

Burundi’s development is hemmed in by a very low level of electricity access, especially in rural areas. As the discussions of Chart 11 explained, the lack of investment and capacity in electricity generation is a major problem, particularly in the underutilisation of the country’s hydropower potential. The current demand for electricity substantially exceeds supply, resulting in frequent outages and an over reliance on backup generators that curtail economic growth and cut into businesses’ profits. [34Energypedia, Burundi Energy Situation] This lack of access to electricity helps explain why only 13.1% of the population had access to the Internet as of June 2021. [35Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa] and mostly through mobile subscriptions.

The electricity access needed to maintain fixed connections is thus lacking, an issue clearly highlighted in Chart 34. In 2019, there were only 1.6 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people, a figure which is half of Africa’s average. Regionally, the EAC performs better, with 3.1 subscriptions per 100 people, while low-income economies in Africa have an average subscription rate of 2.3 per 100 people. The Current Path trajectory is steadily positive, and in the Leapfrogging scenario, increased electricity access and greater government efficiency result in 42.2 subscriptions per 100 people, more than double what it would have been.

 

Mobile broadband refers to wireless Internet access delivered through cellular towers to computers and other digital devices.

Accessing the Internet wirelessly offers various developmental advantages in sectors such as health and agriculture. The agriculture sector would benefit from information on weather, prices and sources of input, for example, increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Although mobile connections form the majority of subscriptions to the Internet in Burundi, with 35.9 subscriptions per 100 people, challenges to access and quality remain pertinent. Access to backbone transmissions networks is lacking as well as lower quality Internet and data transfer. [36Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa] Only 38% of the population lives within 10 km of such infrastructure, a level comparable to most other Least Developed Countries. At a more basic level, only 47% of the population owns a mobile phone. The urban/rural divide is once again evident here, with the number jumping to 83% for urban households and sinking to 43% for their rural counterparts. [37Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa]

Despite the present challenges, uptake is expected to vastly improve with the Leapfrogging scenario. Subscriptions per 100 people rapidly increase to 147.5 by 2043. Compared to the EAC and low-income Africa, Burundi would initially surge ahead, before levels converge gradually with the EAC as saturation is achieved, while the gap to low-income Africa marginally widens by 2043.

Electricity access is a big developmental hurdle in Burundi, with only 9% of the population connected in 2019. Predictably, urban levels are much higher at 50.6% and rural levels lower at 3%, a state of affairs that helps explain the traditional nature of farming practices in the country and lack of productivity in the agricultural sector. The Leapfrogging scenario projects what investment in renewable energy sources could mean for increased electricity access in the country, with hydropower being of particular salience. On average, access would increase by 23.6 percentage points by 2043 in the Leapfrogging scenario, 10 points more than along the Current Path forecast. Urban areas would reach 77.3% coverage, 9.1 percentage points more than in the Current Path forecast, while rural areas would experience a similar 9 percentage-point increase to 21.4% by 2043.

The Leapfrogging scenario makes a relatively sizeable impact on GDP per capita, effecting an increase of 9.2% to US$1 416 by 2043, in part due to the shift from informal to the formal sector employment as barriers of entry to the latter are reduced.

Poverty reduction is less pronounced, with 440 000 fewer people being extremely poor in 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, a reduction translating to only 2.1 percentage points. In the Leapfrogging scenario, the poverty rate would have reduced by 20.4 percentage points compared to 2019, a slightly smaller reduction than that of the EAC and low-income Africa.

Free Trade scenario

Free Trade scenario

The Free Trade scenario represents the impact of the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 2034 through increases in exports, improved productivity and increased trade and economic freedom.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

Regional integration in Central and East Africa faces numerous challenges that hinder the effective movement of both people and goods needed to spur on economic growth. Burundi, in particular, is hampered by a lack of quality infrastructure, both physically and in telecommunications, two areas also identified as problematic for the region as a whole. Further non-tariff barriers to trade include an inefficient bureaucracy, lack of access to credit and poor levels of business support, factors which make trade more costly and hamper growth of businesses.[38International Trade Centre, Burundi, www.intracen.org/country/Burundi/trade-policy-and-market-access/.]

Exports and imports are distributed quite widely: Africa and the Middle East accounted for about 30% of exports each, while Asia accounted for 34.5% of imports in 2017. Burundi is a net importer in foodstuffs, energy and manufactured goods, but a net exporter in services, particularly tourism. As such, the country’s trade balance is negative, standing at -24.7% in 2019, but should trade restrictions be loosened and productivity increase significantly, Burundi could be a net exporter by 2043. In the Free Trade scenario, Burundi’s trade balance improves to 2.2%, a large increase from -32.1% in the Current Path forecast. The change is driven mainly by soaring exports of services, which are projected to increase by over 25 percentage points of GDP.

The Free Trade scenario has the single biggest impact on GDP per capita compared to all the other scenarios, highlighting the huge economic benefit that fewer barriers to trade can have. The increase to GDP per capita reaches US$158 by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, an increase of 12.2%. The scenario would decrease the gap between Burundi’s GDP per capita and the averages for the EAC and low-income Africa the most out of all the scenarios discussed.

The poverty forecasts for Burundi are complex and somewhat contradictory. Although GDP per capita increases along the scenario, poverty worsens significantly as 1.8million people will be in poverty in 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast. The percentage of the population in poverty increases too by 9.3 percentage points in 2043.

Financial Flows scenario

Financial Flows scenario

The Financial Flows scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious increase in worker remittances and aid flows to poor countries, increase in the stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) and additional portfolio investment inflows. We also reduced outward financial flows to emulate a reduction in illicit financial outflows.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

Burundi is heavily dependent on foreign aid, ranking fifth in Africa for aid received as a percentage of GDP. The country’s aid equalled 19.5% of GDP in 2019 but reached a peak in 2004 of over 40%. The political upheaval in 2015 had a negative effect on aid received, causing aid to drop to 11% of GDP, before rising again. For Burundi, aid is crucial for development.

As such, the Financial Flows scenario emphasises a more gradual decline in foreign aid compared to the Current Path forecast. Foreign aid only reduces by 5.8 percentage points by 2043 in the scenario, 1.6 percentage points less than in the Current Path forecast.

The business environment needed to attract foreign investment to the Burundian economy is lacking in several key aspects, particularly the lack of reliable electricity in the country, which places severe restrictions on productivity and increasing costs due to the need for backup generation capacity. Another area of concern is the lack of credit available to potential borrowers aiming to start a business, with limited credit history information and weak laws governing lending practices further restrictions.[39The World Bank, Ease of doing business in Burundi] The lack of transport infrastructure also plays a part in the low levels of FDI the country receives. [40The World Bank, The global enabling trade report 2016]

The inflow of FDI represented in Chart 43 thus paints a predictable picture. As a per cent of GDP, FDI inflows were 1.1% in 2019, 2 percentage points less than the EAC and 3.2 percentage points below low-income Africa. Even with the interventions of the Financial Flows scenario, Burundi struggles to keep up, with FDI increasing to 1.7% in 2043 as opposed to 1.6% in the Current Path forecast. The gap between the average for low-income Africa and  the EAC will shrink marginally by 2043.

Successive and persistent incidences of political upheaval and subsequent violence have led to Burundi experiencing repeated waves of outward migration, followed by periods of reintegration as refugees slowly return from neighbouring countries. The bulk of assistance, in the shape of skill sharing and remittance flows, stem from those who fled Burundi in the 20th century and travelled to Western, developed countries. Although relatively small in size compared to those who fled to African countries in the region, an increased level of mobilisation is occurring amongst those in the diaspora aimed at providing financial aid and launching their own small-scale projects in Burundi. The level of assistance is dependent on the political and security situation in the country however, and lack of trust in the robustness of peace hampers levels of engagement. [41Maastricht University, 2010, Policy brief: Diaspora Engagement in Burundi: The Emergence of a Migration Policy]

In line with a trend of increased engagement by the Western-based diaspora, remittances in absolute terms are projected to increase. They are projected to increase by US$70 million from 2019 to 2043 along the Current Path forecast, with the Financial Flows scenario adding an extra US$30 million in 2043. As a per cent of GDP, remittances increase up until a peak of 3.1% in 2031, before slowly levelling off to 1.8% in 2043 along the Financial Flows scenario. The Current Path forecast is 0.3 percentage points lower for 2043.

Chart 45 shows a slight increase in GDP per capita along the Financial Flows scenario of US$16 by 2043. The size of the increase is due to the relatively weak performance in FDI and a declining level of foreign aid.

Reductions in poverty are also similarly muted; 360 000 fewer people will be extremely poor, while the poverty rate decreases by 1.8 percentage points in the Financial Flows scenario by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast. The location and type of FDI is important if it is to lead to decreased poverty, while expenditure of aid money must also be properly targeted.

Infrastructure scenario

Infrastructure scenario

The Infrastructure scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious increase in infrastructure spending across Africa, focusing on basic infrastructure (roads, water, sanitation, electricity access and ICT) in low-income countries and increasing emphasis on advanced infrastructure (such as ports, airports, railway and electricity generation) in higher-income countries.

Note that health and sanitation infrastructure is included as part of the Health/WaSH scenario and that ICT infrastructure and more rapid uptake of renewables are part of the Leapfrogging scenario. The interventions there push directly on outcomes, whereas those modelled in this scenario increase infrastructure spending, indirectly boosting other forms of infrastructure, including that supporting health, sanitation and ICT.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

The electricity generation and distribution situation in Burundi inhibits development as discussed in the Leapfrogging scenario. Excess demand hampers the reliability of the limited supply, with frequent outages that lead to businesses having to buy backup generators, leading to reduced economic activity. Underdeveloped and poorly maintained hydropower facilities also contribute to the shortage, an area the government aims to improve upon in the near future.

To address the lack of WaSH infrastructure in the country, the interventions of the Infrastructure scenario improve access to improved water and sanitation as well as access to electricity. The scenario has a larger impact on access to improved WaSH infrastructure, simulating a focus by the government on WaSH infrastructure above electricity generation, the result of which is shown in Chart 47, with electricity access increasing from 23.7% in the Current Path forecast to 26.6% in the Infrastructure scenario in 2043. This is Burundi as a whole: urban areas experience a smaller increase of 1.1 percentage points, while rural areas see a rise of 3.3 percentage points, albeit from a much lower base.

 

Indicator 9.1.1. refers to the proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road and is captured in the Rural Access Index (RAI).

The indicator falls under goal 9 and target 9.1 of the sustainable development goals, which aims for the building of resilient infrastructure that crosses borders and is equitably accessible to aid economic development and improve human well-being. More and better roads are important for economic development in Burundi, as they ease access to markets and enable farmers to sell their goods more easily as travel times are reduced. The cost of transport decreases, positively affecting food prices and thus easing the food security issue. Improved access to health and educational services is also beneficial to alleviating poverty and increasing human welfare.

Chart 48 shows the need for improvement in this area; in 2019, only 40.8% of the rural population had access to all-season roads. [42The manner in which the metric is calculated has changed from its initial conception in 2006 when surveys were used to estimate access. Since 2012, the World Bank has started to move towards spatial data on population distribution and road networks, including their condition, to compile the RAI. IFs v7.63 still uses the old methodology, and thus some of its estimates are higher than current data. A 2016 World Bank study found Burundi’s RAI to be 24.9%, 15.7 percentage points lower than the data IFs has.] This number will increase slowly along both the Infrastructure scenario and the Current Path forecast. The scenario affects an increase of 3.9 percentage points above the 2019 level, 0.3 percentage points more than the Current Path forecast. . Concentrated, targeted efforts are needed to improve the metric and reap the potential developmental benefits it has to offer.

The scenario has a limited impact on GDP per capita that only increases by US$12, or 0.9%, in 2043 for the Infrastructure scenario over the Current Path forecast. The small increase is understandable given the marginal effects the scenario had on electricity access and rural road access. As a result, the gap to the EAC and low-income Africa remains wide by 2043.

Since the impact of the Infrastructure scenario primarily improves basic infrastructure, the reductions in poverty are marginal, with 90 000 fewer people classified as extremely poor and a reduction of 0.5 percentage points in the per cent of extremely poor population by 2043 in the Infrastructure scenario compared to the Current Path forecast.

Governance scenario

Governance scenario

The Governance scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious improvement in accountability and reduces corruption, and hence improves the quality of service delivery by government.

The intervention is explained in here in the thematic part of the website.

As defined by the World Bank, government effectiveness ‘captures perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies’.

Government effectiveness is one of six indicators that the World Bank uses to measure governance. The bank looks at three broad dimensions of governance, i.e. political, economic and institutional respect, when aiming to delineate what good governance is. A further two indicators are detailed under each dimension and together these are used to gauge the level of governance in a country.

Since 2005, when the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie – Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) came to power, allegations of corruption, political repression and human rights violations have been rife. In fact, Burundi ranks 165th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, achieving a low score of 19 out of 100. Service delivery has been eroded due to its politicisation and wealth distribution is comprised by the party capturing the state and its public sector resources.[43Crisis Group, 2012, Burundi: A Deepening Corruption Crisis ] Following the events of 2015, political and media suppression has escalated, while the number of human rights violations have increased.

The election of President Evariste Ndayishimiye in May 2020 brought with it the hope that things might change in Burundi under his stewardship. He has touted various reforms aimed at weeding out corruption and has sought re-engagement with external partners that have historically provided large amounts of aid. Repression of political opponents and civil society still continues however, although at a lower rate.[44Crisis Group, 2021, Burundi: Charm Offensive or Real Change?] Furthermore, political power has increasingly been monopolised by the ruling party as stalwarts entrench their bases and laws are amended to increase the executives power over the judiciary. [45Crisis Group, 2021, Burundi: Charm Offensive or Real Change?] These developments decrease the chance for better service delivery in the future.

Unsurprisingly then, Burundi does not perform well in the government effectiveness index shown in Chart 51, scoring 1.3 out 5 in 2019. Performance in the other five indicators is similarly low; no score was above two for the period from 2002 to 2020, while the average score was 1.2. A relative period of success was achieved between 2006 and 2015, followed by regression in the period up until 2020. The Governance scenario aims to address the slide in the government effectiveness indicator specifically, simulating an increase to 1.9 by 2043 compared to 1.7 in the Current Path forecast.

 

On their own, changes to governance in terms of accountability and corruption are not sufficient for rapid economic development. They must be accompanied by better policies and implementation in other sectors. The effect of better governance simulated by the Governance scenario is thus marginal, increasing GDP per capita by US$44 by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast.

Poverty reduction is equally muted, with a 1.7 percentage-point reduction in the portion of the extremely poor population and 350 000 fewer people in extreme poverty by 2043 when comparing the Governance scenario to the Current Path forecast.

Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions

Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions

This section presents projections for carbon emissions in the Current Path for [Burundi] and the 11 scenarios. Note that IFs uses carbon equivalents rather than CO2 equivalents.

Reflecting its development status, Burundi’s level of carbon emissions is low. As seen in Chart 12, carbon emissions were at 200 000 tons in 2019, equating to 0.02 tons per capita. In comparison, Africa’s largest emitter in 2019, South Africa, had a per capita rate of 2.26 tons. The Burundian contribution to climate change is thus relatively small and increases in carbon emissions affected by the scenario should be viewed through this lens.

Chart 54 shows which scenarios have the largest impact on carbon emissions up until 2043. Agriculture causes the biggest increase until 2042 when the Free Trade scenario overtakes it as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement full implementation by 2034 takes effect on economic growth.

Combined Agenda 2063 scenario

Combined Agenda 2063 scenario

Download to pdf

The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario consists of the combination of all 11 sectoral scenarios presented above, namely the Stability, Demographic, Health/WaSH, Agriculture, Education, Manufacturing/Transfers, Leapfrogging, Free Trade, Financial Flows, Infrastructure and Governance scenarios. The cumulative impact of better education, health, infrastructure, etc. means that countries get an additional benefit in the integrated IFs forecasting platform that we refer to as the synergistic effect. Chart 55 presents the contribution of each of these 12 components to GDP per capita in the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario.

Burundi’s people face a myriad of challenges that inhibit progress. Repeated instances of political upheaval accompanied by media and political repression, often violently, hinder economic development and deter foreign investment and aid. An agricultural sector plagued by a lack of resources and inputs continues to be unproductive, worsening an already fragile food security situation. Infrastructure concerns must also be addressed, not only to better regional integration and fully benefit for the upcoming AfCFTA but just as crucially to connect the vast rural population to markets and services. 

Frameworks and policies undertaken to address these issues will be challenging. Re-engaging with regional and international partners is a start but must be accompanied by local action in various sectors. The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario simulates such a comprehensive approach. Chart 55 shows the additional GDP per capita each scenario contributes, with the benefits of the synergistic effect larger than any individual scenario at US$167 by 2043. It clearly illustrates that it is the deficits across all sectors rather than any single challenge that confronts Burundi, although pointing to the opportunities with the Free Trade scenario that add US$158 and the Agriculture scenario that add US$146.

Whereas Chart 55 presents a stacked area graph on the contribution of each scenario to GDP per capita as well as the additional benefit or synergistic effect, Chart 56 presents only the GDP per capita in the Current Path forecast and the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario.

Chart 56 presents a stacked area graph on the contribution of each scenario to GDP per capita as well as the additional benefit or synergistic effect, whereas Chart 56 presents only the GDP per capita in the Current Path forecast and the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario. 

Overall, the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario improves GDP per capita by US$877, an increase of 67.6% compared to the Current Path forecast.

The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario has a significant impact on poverty, reducing the number of poor people in Burundi by 8 million people in 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast. The percentage of the population classified as poor drops to 19.7%, a decrease of 39.7 percentage points.  Burundi’s poverty rate would be 1.6 percentage points above the EAC’s and 5.5 percentage points above low-income Africa’s poverty rate. This represents robust progress, but even in this best case poverty will remain a problem for the country.

See Chart 8 to view the Current Path forecast of the sectoral composition of the economy.

The services sector will continue to dominate the economy in terms of value added, accounting for 61% by 2043, an increase of 1.5 percentage points to the Current Path forecast. Agriculture still reduces drastically, falling from 31% in 2019 to 14.4% in 2043, 0.5 percentage points more than in the Current Path forecast. ICT is 2.8 percentage points higher than in the Current Path forecast by 2043, a welcome development possibly indicating a renewed focus on electricity generation in the country. In absolute terms, all sectors grow, but services dwarf the rest, increasing by US$5.4 billion compared to the Current Path forecast.

Growth of this magnitude translates into a sensational increase in the size of the economy by 2043. In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, Burundi’s GDP is projected to more than double in size compared to the Current Path forecast, reaching US$18.3 billion in 2043.

As noted earlier, any increase in economic activity will increase carbon emissions. The much larger economy means Burundi will emit 49.6% more carbon than in the Current Path forecast by 2043 but coming from very low levels.

Endnotes

  1. The World Factbook

  2. The World Bank, 2021, Population density (people per sq. km of land area) - Burundi 

  3. African Development Bank, 2019, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi October 2018

  4. The World Factbook

  5. The World Bank, 2021, Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate) - Burundi

  6. KIPPRA AND UNECA, 2017, A Scoping Study on Burundi’s Agricultural Production in a Changing Climate and the Supporting Policies

  7. African Development Bank, 2019, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi October 2018

  8. The World Bank, 2021, Unemployment, total (% of total labor force) (modeled ILO estimate) – Burundi

  9. International Labour Organisation, 2021, Statistics on the working poor

  10. International Labour Organisation, The Working Poor or How a Job Is No Guarantee of Decent Living Conditions, April 2019

  11. United Nations Environment Programme, Burundi, 2017

  12. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Climate Change Profile – Burundi, April 2018

  13. African Development Bank, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi, October 2018

  14. African Development Bank, National Climate Change Profile: Burundi, October 2018

  15. The security index ranges from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest, most desirable number

  16. JD Nkurunziza, 2018, The Origin and Persistence of State Fragility in Burundi

  17. JD Nkurunziza, 2018, The Origin and Persistence of State Fragility in Burundi

  18. T Nathalie, 2015, A day in the history of conflicts: How Burundi got here 

  19. The World Factbook

  20. USAfrica Business Center, Burundi.

  21. Improved access to sanitation refers to facilities that are likely to ensure separation between a person and human excrement, for example a pour/flush toilet linked to a sewage system, a ventilated improved pit latrine or a pit latrine with a slab (International Futures v7.63).

  22. IK Moise, 2018, Causes of Morbidity and Mortality among Neonates and Children in Post-Conflict Burundi: A Cross-Sectional Retrospective Study, Children, 5(9) 

  23. reliefweb, Burundi: One million children at risk of contracting malaria by Christmas, 24 November 2017

  24. The World Bank, Arable land (hectares per person) – Burundi

  25. reliefweb, Burundi – Situation report, 4 June 2021

  26. IPC, 2014, Burundi: Chronic Food Insecurity Situation December 2014–2019

  27. IPC, 2014, Burundi: Chronic Food Insecurity Situation December 2014–2019

  28. The World Bank, 2020, School enrollment, primary (% gross) – Burundi

  29. UNICEF, 2018, UNICEF strategic plan goal area 2 country profile: Burundi

  30. UIS, Sustainable Development Goals: 4.1.4 Out-of-school rate, primary school age by sex and wealth quintile (household survey data)

  31. UNICEF, 2018, UNICEF strategic plan goal area 2 country profile: Burundi

  32. UNICEF, Education

  33. The World Bank, Manufactures exports (% of merchandise exports) - Burundi

  34. Energypedia, Burundi Energy Situation

  35. Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa

  36. Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa

  37. Internet World Stats, Africa - Internet Usage and Population Statistics Table for Africa

  38. International Trade Centre, Burundi, www.intracen.org/country/Burundi/trade-policy-and-market-access/.

  39. The World Bank, Ease of doing business in Burundi

  40. The World Bank, The global enabling trade report 2016

  41. Maastricht University, 2010, Policy brief: Diaspora Engagement in Burundi: The Emergence of a Migration Policy

  42. The manner in which the metric is calculated has changed from its initial conception in 2006 when surveys were used to estimate access. Since 2012, the World Bank has started to move towards spatial data on population distribution and road networks, including their condition, to compile the RAI. IFs v7.63 still uses the old methodology, and thus some of its estimates are higher than current data. A 2016 World Bank study found Burundi’s RAI to be 24.9%, 15.7 percentage points lower than the data IFs has.

  43. Crisis Group, 2012, Burundi: A Deepening Corruption Crisis 

  44. Crisis Group, 2021, Burundi: Charm Offensive or Real Change?

  45. Crisis Group, 2021, Burundi: Charm Offensive or Real Change?

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Cite this research

Du Toit McLachlan (2022) Burundi. Published online at futures.issafrica.org. Retrieved from https://futures.issafrica.org/geographic/countries/burundi/ [Online Resource] Updated 30 August 2022.