NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The Central Bank of Burundi on Thursday, officially joined the East African Securities Regulatory Authorities (EASRA) in an effort to deepen co-operation among capital market regulators in the region.
Burundi joins Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya in the growing EASRA membership.
Speaking during the induction ceremony, EASRA Chairperson Robert Mathu said Burundi’s addition will allow for free movement of capital, boosting trade and investments, and making the region more productive and prosperous.
“Joining EASRA will benefit Burundi by allowing them to benchmark against the experiences and practices within the other member regulators and allow them to benefit from mutual technical assistance,” he said.
Burundi’s economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2010, which recorded below the government’s target of 4.5 percent.
With less than two percent of the population having a bank account, Burundi has one of the lowest levels of bank penetration in the world and as the region’s smallest economy Burundi in dire need to diversify its markets.
Governor of the Central Bank of Burundi, Gaspard Sindayigaya said the country has already embarked on implementing a capital market institution framework with plans to begin operation in October this year.
“Burundi is engaged in the process of formulating a financial markets plan that will propose the way forward to establish the framework. The total integration of the capital markets will allow a good allocation of funds in order to develop our infrastructures, economic growth and reduce poverty in our region,” he said.
The process to bring Burundi on board began in 2008 under guidance of former EASRA Chairperson and current Capital Market Authority, Kenya CEO Stella Kilonzo, who approved the establishment of a capital markets desk in the country.
Mrs Kilonzo acknowledged the challenge of member states being at different stages of development that caused for conflicting priorities among regulators, but said the EASRA’s goal is to ensure the capital market’s environment is thriving and provides a facilitative framework for capital market stakeholders to carry out business.
“It is a challenge, but also an opportunity. The issue is how to prioritise what you have. The opportunity at the end of the day is that it is a global environment and so there lessons to be learned. Integration is not something new, it is on-going and at an advanced stage in the region,” she said.
Since its inception in 1997, EASRA has facilitated cross-listing securities and cross-border transactions in the East African region to further integration in the region’s capital markets.