Burundi's Nkurunziza takes over as the new chair of the EAC summit Share Bookmark Print Email Rating New EAC chairman Pierre Nkurunziza. File Photo New EAC chairman Pierre Nkurunziza. File Photo By Catherine Riungu (email the author) Posted Monday, December 20 2010 at 16:35 The East African: - News |Burundi's Nkurunziza takes over as the new chair of the EAC summit Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is the new chairman of the Heads of State Summit, the top organ of the East African Community. He took over at the 12th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State of the EAC member states, from outgoing chair, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, a week ago. Mr Nkurunziza takes the torch at a time when his country is pleading with its peers to tap into its vast investment potential that lies largely idle. During the Lake Victoria Basin Investment Conference held in Mwanza last week, the chief executive officer of the Burundi Investment Authority, Leberati Mfumukeko, said that the country has streamlined its business registration process to attract investors. It takes a maximum of three days to register a business in Burundi, he said. He disclosed that Burundi is importing 90 per cent of its products, which can be manufactured locally, while the government is privatising some 14 enterprises, including the national carrier and a sugar plantation. In addition, the country established an economic reforms unit last month to speed up development. We dont manufacture anything, including paper bags which we import from the region or China, he said. Burundi, could turn out to be the largest beneficiary of the East African integration, considering that it joins a ready market, while the stronger neighbours are willing to assist it to catch up. The fact that it has to get its bite of shared benefits such as hosting regional conferences, it will attract investors to build the necessary infrastructure such as hotels and roads. Burundi should be a food secure country by virtue of its adequate and evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, but it still imports 30 per cent of food due to lack of modern farming methods. While its hilly landscape is a big tourist attraction, the facilities are largely underdeveloped, creating vast opportunities for investment. Demand for housing is also high, Mr Mfumukeko said, placing it at 300,000 units annually. Other opportunities abound in rich mineral deposits among them nickel, gold, and phosphate. It is the first time that Burundi heading the Summit, which meats annually for the ordinary meeting, although it can meet in between if the situation demands. Under the theme of EAC: A Second Decade of Higher Achievements, the Summit adopted the annual progress report of the council of ministers. President Nkurunzizas reign comes at a time when the EAC is making good progress and realizing major achievements, especially with the Common Market and Customs Union, having come into force this year. The push now is geared towards the Monetary Union and the Political Federation processes, said Mr Nkurunziza. The monetary union is expected in 2012 while the federation is slated for 2015. The integration process is deepening. Therefore, the structures and systems of operations in place should be reviewed to conform to the demands of a new era, he noted.