France and Burundi

Political relations

France actively supported the implementation of the Arusha Accords and also pursued its support for institutions established subsequently.

President Nkurunziza made an official visit to France from 10 to 14 March 2013 during which he met with French President François Hollande. The Minister Delegate for Development and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Burundi signed on that occasion a “framework document on the policy of development cooperation between France and Burundi” for the period 2013-2015.

President Nkurunziza also participated in the Élysée Summit on 6 December 2013, the EU-Africa Summit on 2 and 3 April 2014, and two special meetings on the Central African Republic (CAR) organized on the sidelines of those two events.

On 27 March 2014, the First Vice President of Burundi Mr Prosper Bazombaza met with the Minister Delegate for Francophonie Ms Yamina Benguigui.

With regard to the current domestic situation, France has always advocated a peaceful political solution for Burundians, with the region’s support, pursuant to the Arusha Accords on the basis of inclusive Burundi dialogue.

In 2016, France provided €3.3 million of emergency humanitarian and food aid during the crisis in Burundi.

On account of the close ties between Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC, the success of the Burundi transition remains an essential challenge when it comes to stabilizing the Great Lakes region, to which France is extremely committed.

Economic relations

Trade between France and Costa Burundi remains limited (€22 million in 2015, up 16%). The trade balance with Burundi is positive for France (€12 million in 2015).

About 10 French companies are present in Burundi. Sogea-Satom (public works/construction, infrastructure) is the main one, along with SDV to a less degree (Bolloré Group) and AGS Movers.

Most of the niches presenting opportunities for French companies (agriculture, hydropower, infrastructures, tourism), undergoing reorganization since 2006, were strongly damaged following the political crisis.

Burundi has low foreign direct investment (FDI).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

In February 2012, Burundi was included on the list of priority poor countries of French cooperation.

The bilateral strategic document 2013-2015, signed in 2013, identifies five areas of cooperation: i) strengthening the rule of law, consolidating good governance and promoting gender equality; ii) transforming the Burundi economy to promote sustained growth and job creation; iii) improving the rates of access and quality of basis services; iv) managing space and the environment to generate sustainable development; and v) conducting cultural and education cooperation.

France’s bilateral and multilateral official development assistance (ODA) to Burundi totalled €25.48 million in 2014, making France the fifth-largest bilateral donor to Burundi (ranking 58ᵗʰ among countries receiving French assistance). Education (57%), health (9%) and debt-related action (7%) were the main sectoral areas of France’s bilateral ODA.

Burundi’s political and security crisis has prompted France to review its assistance programme, suspending security and defence cooperation actions and redirecting its activities by mainly focusing on promoting the respect of human rights and support to democratic governance.

In the recent period, projects of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) account for a total of €23 million of investment (mainly in grants). Ongoing projects are mobilizing a total amount of €10 million mainly concentrated on education (€5.5 million), microfinance (€3 million), reinforcing the tea industry (€1.2 million) and financing expertise and studies (€300,000). Several of these assistance packages are going to be redesigned in line with the appropriate measures taken by the European Union under Article 96 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (Cotonou Agreement).

In addition, the NGOs section of the AFD continues to support several regional projects of French NGOs operating in Burundi (Secours Catholique, Sidaction, AEDH, Handicap International, AIDES, Sidaction, FIACAT, CCFD, Reporters Sans Frontières).

Since 2008, France has also funded projects as part of food aid for Burundi. In 2015, France funded an emergency food aid project (€500,000) led by the World Food Programme (WFP) supporting 30,000 people in the Kirundo province. In 2016, €1.5 million was allocated to WFP and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects to improve food security and the resilience of Burundi’s most vulnerable households.

Burundi likewise benefits from actions of three multilateral health partners, which received considerable French contributions:

  • Global Fund: US $317 million since its creation in 2002;
  • UNITAID: US $4.5 million since 2007;
  • Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: US $ 110 million since 2002 and another US $20 million over the 2007-2015 period devoted to improving the country’s health system.

Updated: 13 June 2017