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Burundi’s Prospects Now that the Sanctions have been Lifted

In 2015, Burundi’s then president Pierre Nkurunziza sought to change the constitution to hand him a third term. He faced significant internal and external political opposition, including a failed coup attempt. The European Union and US first imposed visa restrictions on the perpetrators of the violence. Wide-ranging economic sanctions soon followed in response to Nkurunziza’s destructive actions. The sanctions had a knock-on effect on regional projects where Burundi was an integral player. These included a regional oil pipeline with Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and an electricity extension initiative with Rwanda. With already dwindling foreign direct investment and aid flow, the country’s agricultural production dropped significantly. The country eventually experienced a recession in 2020. This was partly because of the effects of COVID-19, but also due to the ongoing financial choke-hold of sanctions. The return of budgetary support and financial inflows from foreign direct investment or aid support packages will go a long way towards jump-starting economic recovery. Foreign investments tend to be risk averse to sanctions. The government also gets the opportunity to invest financial aid in key growth areas, such as manufacturing, youth employment and rebalancing its public debt. Already, Burundi has reported an aid agreement with the US of $400 million aimed at supporting Ndayishimiye’s development efforts.