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Select Economic and Financial Indicators2014201520162017e2018f
Real GDP (% change)4.5-4.0-
GDP (USD bn)
Inflation (average)
Fiscal Balance (% GDP)-3.6-5.3-6.2-8.5-9.5
Broad Money (% change, end period)
Population (mn)9.9110.2010.5310.8711.19
Exports (USD bn)
Imports (USD bn)
Current Account Balance (% GDP)-18.5-17.7-13.1-12.4-11.8
FX Reserves (USD bn, end period)
Exchange Rate (average)1,557.971,572.881,623.751,726.971,795.47

Economic Outlook

Economic Outlook

Real GDP: The economy is likely to remain flat in 2018. The IMF gives a drab forecast of 0.1% growth in 2018, following 0.0% growth in 2017. Nonetheless, this is a reprieve from the contractions experienced in the previous two years (the economy contracted by 1.0% in 2016, and 4.0% in 2015). The economic malaise follows the political crisis sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run for a third term in office in 2015, and the subsequent coup attempt and crackdown on opponents. The resulting suspension of aid from key donors (EU, Belgium and US) has further weakened Burundi’s economic outlook.

Inflation: will accelerate in 2018 amid pass-through effect of currency weakening, particularly given the relatively high import content of the CPI basket. Moreover, as an oil importer, Burundi will be impacted by the effect of rising international oil prices.

Fiscal balance: The fiscal balance is expected to widen beyond 9% of GDP in 2018, amid weak tea and coffee receipts (jointly worth 45% of exports), current political tensions, and ongoing donor aid suspensions, which have seen key donors restrict budget support for Burundi since 2015.

Current account: Owing to the limited export base, the trade balance is structurally skewed towards imports, which have contributed to wide and persistent current account deficits that have been financed mainly through concessional borrowing. Over 2018, the deficit is forecast to narrow somewhat, albeit remaining large at more than 10% of GDP, as a weaker BIF and tight USD-liquidity are expected to reduce import volumes, while coffee and other agricultural export revenues are likely to stagnate. With donor aid currently suspended, financing part of the deficits will be challenging.


There are two main issues that pose major risks: the political situation remains very fragile and any deterioration would disrupt the weak foundations that the economy rests upon. Moreover, the economy remains highly vulnerable to shocks, due to its narrow export base and dependence on donors’ support. The high volatility of coffee prices adds to external financing pressures.

FX, FI and Commodity Information

FX, FI and Commodity Information

Exchange rate structure

RegimeStabilised arrangement
TargetNo official target but de facto anchored to the USD
Type of interventionVia spot market
Convertible currency?No
Market participantsn/a
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research


FX ProductsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
On offerYesNoNoNoNo
Daily trading volume (USD mn)n/an/a
Average trade size (USD mn)n/a
Average spreadn/a
Trading hoursLimited
Settlement cycleT+2
FX Market StructureOfficial exchange rate is the weighted average calculated from a previous FX interbank market transaction and an intervention transaction buy the NBR. The NBR applies a margin of +/-0.8% to the official rate to derive a customer rate.
Non-resident FX RegulationsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
Trade and FDI flowNo restrictionsn/a
Financial flowSome restrictions on the import and export of capital
Resident FX RegulationsSpotForwardsNon-deliverable ForwardsOptionsSwaps
Trade and FDI flowNo restrictionsn/a
Financial flowSome restrictions on the import and export of capital
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research


Primary MarketTreasury billsTreasury notesTreasury bondsCentral Bank billsOMOs
End useGovernment financingGovernment & infrastructure financing
Maturity structure13- to 52-weeks2- to 5-yrs
Coupon paymentsn/aAnnual
Secondary Market
Daily trading volumeLimited tradingn/a
Average trade sizeLimited trading
Settlement cyclen/a
Ecobank local affiliate contact details:
Ecobank Burundi, 6, Rue de la Science, Bujumbura
Tel: +257 22 20 81 00 / 82 00
Source: Bloomberg, IMF, and Ecobank Research

FI Primary Market information

FI Primary Market information

Burundi Debt2014201520162017e2018f
Government debt (% GDP)35.846.148.058.867.9
Sub-Sahara average44.552.656.155.655.8
External debt (official creditors, % GDP)18.918.216.727.437.4
Sub-Sahara average25.530.231.932.933.2
External public debt stock (USD bn)
Share of total sub-Sahara debt (%)
Source: IMF and World Bank

Commodity and trade information

Commodity and trade information

Hydrocarbon & mineral production

Burundi has a wealth of mineral resources, including gold, coltan, nickel, tin & tungsten, most of which have been lightly exploited. The country’s leading mineral production is gold, with estimated output of around 500kg in 2016, largely from artisanal mines. Output of coltan is erratic, given the high volumes smuggled throughout the region. The country also produces small volumes of tin & tungsten. Plans to develop industrial mining of nickel, cobalt & copper reserves have been put on hold owing to political instability. In 2015 Rainbow Rare Earths obtained a mining license to mine for high-grade rare earth elements, including lanthanum, cerium and neodymium in the country’s Gakara mine.

Burundi has no known hydrocarbon reserves.

Soft commodity production

Agriculture employs an estimated 90% of the population in Burundi, but most production is focused on staple crops, with low output of cash crops for export. Burundi is a small producer of Arabica coffee, with output of 235,000 60-kg bags in 2016/17 (April-March). The country’s coffee sector is struggling with a lack of investment, low prices and political instability, which have driven farmers out of coffee into more lucrative cash crops. Burundi is also a small producer of black tea, with estimated output of 10,000 tonnes in 2016/17, 80% of which was sold via the Mombasa tea auction.

Trade flows


Burundi’s imports totalled US$638mn in 2016. Given the lack of hydrocarbon resources and refining capacity, Burundi is dependent on imports of petroleum products, worth US$112mn in 2016. The country is also reliant on imports of vehicles, machinery, electronics and pharmaceuticals (together worth US$193mn in 2016), reflecting the limited manufacturing sector. Burundi also imported iron & steel (worth US$39mn), fertilizer (US$22mn), cement (US$18mn) and plastics (US$17mn) for its industrial sector. Given Burundi’s limited agricultural production, the country imports large volumes of food, including cereals & flour (US$42mn), palm oil (US$14mn) and sugar (US$12mn).


Burundi’s exports totalled US$123mn in 2016. Coffee is Burundi’s most valuable export, worth US$46mn in 2016 (2.1% of Africa’s total), most of which went to Switzerland and Kenya for roasting. Black tea is the second most important soft commodity export, with exports worth US$14mn, most of which went via Kenya to global markets. Burundi also exported US$15mn worth of gold in 2016, all of which went to the UAE.

  • Flag
  • Population
  • Area
    27,830 sq km
  • Capital
  • Largest city
  • Official language
    English, French and Kirundi
  • Major languages
    Kirundi, French, English and Swahili
  • Currency
    Burundian franc

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