MOMBASA, Kenya, Apr 2 – President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi has urged East African Community member States to strengthen their ties to spur economic development in the region.
Nkurunziza who toured various strategic public and private institutions at the coastal city of Mombasa, pointed out that political unrest was a key hindrances to economic prosperity of many countries adding that Burundi is smarting out of turmoil and her main concern is economic development.
President Nkurunziza revealed that the economy of his country was firmly on its path to recovery due to current peace enjoyed by all Burundi citizens.
"This is the time to build Burundi\’s economy. Peace promotes economic development of a nation," said the Burundian President.
He particularly thanked Kenya for the role she played in brokering the prevailing peace in Burundi and hailed the existing cordial relations between the two countries.
He said that Kenya contributed immensely towards the peace process particularly the implementation of the Peace Agreement reached between the parties to the conflict in Burundi.
Among the institutions he visited were the Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Pipeline Company-Kipevu Storage facility, Bamburi Cement Factory and Mabati Rolling Mills.
The visiting Head of State said that Mombasa was a critical city to Burundi\’s economy adding that any slight hiccups in the coastal city resonate in Burundi.
At the Port of Mombasa where he was received by the Managing Director KPA, James Mulewa and Chairman Shukri Barmadi, President Nkurunziza termed the visit not only a learning experience but a step towards exploring ways of increasing business volumes between the two countries.
On his part Transport and Communications Minister, Chirau Ali Mwakwere said that KPA was both equipped and strategically located to serve Burundi and other East African Member countries efficiently.
Mr Mwakwere said that the port was committed to serve the region as evidenced by the comprehensive reforms it had implemented such as 24-hour service, reduced time of cargo clearance and computerization of all operations.
Other reforms include re-equipping the port with modern cargo handling and marine facilities to meet the increasing cargo traffic and demand in the usage of the port.
Mr Mulewa said that Burundi was a major user and stakeholder of the port adding that Burundian cargo passing through Mombasa currently stands 56,755 metric tonnes both imports and exports.
The main commodities imported by Burundi include refined petroleum products, cars, household goods, clothes, electronics, plastics and pipes while the key exports include tea, coffee and hide and skins.
At Kipevu Oil Facility, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said that EAC member States should strive towards a political federation to demolish barriers that hinder increased trade among the neighbouring countries.
Mr Murungi said that plans are underway to not only enhance the pumping capacity of the oil facility but also extend the pipeline to Uganda and Rwanda from Eldoret which would efficiently avail petroleum products to the region.
Other measures undertaken to ensure fast transportation of petroleum products in the region include construction of a parallel pipeline from Nakuru to Eldoret, which the Energy minister said would greatly minimize the amount of fuel transported by road as well as eradicate disasters such the Sachangwan fire accident in which over 100 people perished while drawing fuel from an overturned tanker.
The visiting President also toured Bamburi Cement factory, the leading producer of cement in East Africa and creates over 3000 jobs in both countries.
President Nkurunziza also visited world class nature parks established by the cement manufacturer as measures of environmental rehabilitation of mined areas.
The Burundian President also made an extensive tour of the Mabati Rolling Mills at Mariakani where the company management, led by CEO Kaushik Shah, promised to make its presence in Burundi market in the near future.
The company expressed its keen interest in supporting the Government of Burundi as it undertakes various reconstruction initiatives by supplying high quality products and solutions.
While addressing the management and staff of the sheets manufacturer at the premises, President Nkurunziza commended plans by the company to establish a plant in Burundi and assured his governments support for the strategy.
Mabati Rolling Mills is member of the Safal Group of Companies operating in eleven countries in Africa but its products are sold in over 50 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia.
At the moment it is the only manufacturer of Aluminium-Zinc coated sheets in the African market with products such as Dumu-Zas sheets which lasts four times longer than ordinary sheets.