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 in 2011 was estimated at 10.2 million inhabitants (15.5 million in 1999) with literacy rate of 59.3%. The official languages are Kirundi, French and Swahili. The capital city is Bujumbura.
In relation to Communications, according to 2010 figures, there were 32,600 fixed phone lines in use compared with 1.98 million mobile phones (2011). There are six Internet Service Providers, 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 Policy in Burundi was formulated jointly 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 and 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 ICT, launch of a 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 is 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.
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