COUNTRYAAH, Burundi is one of Africa's most densely populated and
poorest countries. The economy is dominated by agriculture
with coffee and tea as the main export goods. The dependence
on favorable weather and high world market prices on export
crops make the country's economy vulnerable. Also, poorly
developed infrastructure and the fact that Burundi is a
inland state (lacking coast to sea) seems to hamper economic
The country's trade deficit is large because exports
never covered the cost of importing food and capital goods.
The country has since been marked by contradictions
between the hutu and Tutsi people groups, which have
repeatedly led to bloody violence that has cost hundreds of
thousands of people their lives. By the mid-1990s, they
managed to create a fragile peace and economic growth has
since been around 4 percent annually. However, population
growth means that per capita GDP does not increase at the
same rate. About 90 percent of the population lives in
poverty (under US $ 2 per day).
The dependency on aid is great, partly for direct
development projects and partly for covering the budget and
trade deficits. In 2009, Burundi qualified for the World
Bank and International Monetary Fund's (IMF)
debt-cancellation program for high-indebted poor countries (HIPC),
thereby reducing the country's foreign debt significantly.
Agriculture employs more than 90 percent of the working
population. However, a large proportion of farmers grow for
housing needs and the sector accounts for about 1/3 of GDP.
Agriculture is still of great importance to the country's
economy, mainly coffee, but also tea, sugar and cotton
account for practically all exports.
The main food crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas,
corn and vegetables, but to meet the food needs Burundi has
to import food. Livestock management is traditionally
important for the Tutsis and the country also exports hides.
Burundi has large deposits of nickel, but although these
have been known since the 1970s, large-scale mining was not
started until 2014. The only other mineral that is mined to
any great extent is tantalum. In addition, smaller amounts
of gold, limestone, niobium, tin and scheelite (tungsten)
are extracted. Oil has been discovered under Lake Tanganyika
and in the Ruzizi Valley, but no recovery has begun.
The industry is dominated by the process industry for
agricultural products, primarily coffee but also tea and
cotton. The brewery industry is significant, and in
addition, soap, shoes, textiles and cement are manufactured
for the extensive new construction that takes place mainly
in the capital Bujumbura. Some composition of imported
components also exists. The problems of the industrial
sector are conditioned by a limited local market and large
distances to export ports.
The poor supply of electricity is another limiting factor
affecting both industry and private individuals. Domestic
electricity generation comes from hydropower plants, but a
large part of the country's energy consumption consists of
imported petroleum products. Households must rely mainly on
wood and peat fires. Felling for fuel and new agricultural
land has led to a rapid decline in the country's forest
Exports are dominated by coffee, followed by tea. Imports
consist of components for the composite industry, capital
goods, oil products and foodstuffs. Dominant export
recipients are Congo (Kinshasa), Switzerland and the United
Arab Emirates. Imports are dominated by India, China and
For information on GDP and other business statistics, see