The Republic of Burundi is situated in Central Africa, sharing boundaries with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. It is a landlocked country and has a surface area of 27,830 sq km, made up of 17 provinces. The population is estimated at 10,888,321 inhabitants (July 2013 est. CIA World FactBook) with a literacy rate of 67.2%. 51.9% of the total population is between 15 and 64 years of age. The capital city is Bujumbura with a population of 605,000 (2011). Kirundi is the national language with French as the official language. Other languages spoken are Swahili and English.
In relation to Communications, according to 2012 figures, there were 17,400 fixed phone lines (32,600, 2010) compared with 2.247 million mobile phones (1.98 million 2011). There are six ISPs, with approximately 10,000 Internet subscribers and 60,000 Internet users.
There are 7 public universities and 24 private institutions of Higher Education.
In terms of ICT Infrastructure the Government of Burundi in cooperation with the World Bank have commencing a 13,000 kilometre fibre-optic project to cover Bujumbura, 17 provinces and the borders. This will help reduce communication costs in Burundi. The regulator is Agence de Regulation et de Controle des Telecommunications (ARCT). Mobile operators include U-Com, Onatel Burundi, Econet Wireless Burundi, Africell Burundi and Lacell SU. Two mobile operators in Burundi have launched 3G broadband in the expectation of reduced Internet access costs.
Burundi joined the East African Community, which improves regional trade ties. The economy is predominantly agricultural with primary exports of coffee and tea. Burundi is currently dependent on bilateral and multilateral aid.
Burundi considers ICT to be an important enabler that can facilitate developments and job opportunities in the country. The Government of Burundi is committed to encouraging the integration of ICT in all spheres of society. The telecommunications sector is liberalised but Internet access is predominantly restricted to public points of access in cyber cafes in the capital, Bujumbura.
The National ICT Development Policy has six strategic objectives:
- Enhancement of a legal and regulatory environment
- Promotion of a base infrastructure
- Promotion of good governance
- Promotion and encouragement of private investment
- Promotion of the development of content and applications
The National ICT Development Policy was jointly formulated by the Government and UNDP in October 2000 and adopted in 2004. Subsequently the Government approached UNECA to work with them to develop and fund an ICT action plan for the period 2007 - 2011. The Government of Burundi has led several activities in relation to the use of ICT in the service of the socioeconomic development and the Good Governance under the responsibility of the National Committee.
The World Bank supported the National Backbone system to link the provinces. The design phase commenced in early 2008. UNESCO undertook a survey of Higher Education institutions in 2008.
The Government of Burundi has led several activities in relation to the use of ICT in the service of the socio-economic development and the Good Governance under the responsibility of the National Committee. These activities include: development of the National Policy in STI, launch of an optical fibre project, plans to provide computers in the Higher Education system, a policy for free changes when importing ICT equipment and the development of partners in ICT Networking (such as participation in the IST-Africa Initiative).
Despite the liberalisation of ICT, Burundi still faces a number of challenges in relation to the ICT adoption. Investment in ICT for Higher Education was planned during 2012 - 2013 to include development of a common telecommunications infrastructure, interconnection of workstations and development of software to manage Bachelor and Master Programmes.
A National Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) was developed and adopted in June 2011. This policy outlines various actions that the Government intends to take in order to ensure that R&D and Innovation activities are adequately funded. Its implementation framework for 2013 - 2017 was validated in July 2013.
Burundi is in the process of setting up a National Council or Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, which aims to be completed by the end of 2014. Currently there is no dedicated mechanism to fund R&D and Innovation at a national level.
Burundi's national budget for 2011 - 2012 included an allocation for agriculture R&D. It also included allocations for ICT with emphasis on improving infrastructure for the application of ICT (ongoing fibre optic project).
The first phase of the fibre optic is now operational since August 2013, with the official launch scheduled for 21 January 2014. The project extension is ongoing in order to connect government services and universities initially.
The National eGovernment Strategy was adopted in 2009 and the Executive Secretary for ICT (SETIC) is responsible for coordinating this activity.