By H.E. Vestine Nahimana, Ambassador of Burundi in The Kingdom of The Netherlands.
From its beginnings as a Belgian colony to undergoing a brutal civil war, Burundi is finally celebrating peace and moving from strength to strength on an international scale. I am happy to underline that Burundi is in its 52nd year of independence. As part of the country’s first official long-term diplomatic mission in Europe, I have been given the opportunity to solidify Burundi’s relation with the Netherlands.
Financially speaking, Burundi is Africa’s most rapidly improving nation and as such, has been awarded for its efforts. As the political situation in recent years has stabilized, Burundi’s economy has been allowed to develop. Burundi relies mainly on an agricultural economy, accounting for over 30% of the GDP. The country’s main exports are coffee and tea, which make up 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Our coffee is ranked in the top three on a global scale. Joining the East African Community has been a tremendous economic boost as well as opening up Burundi’s doors to further collaborations. A beach culture is starting on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, which is part of an untouched eco-region in the Albertine Rift. Other water-based tourism options available, such as the many natural hot springs. A possible cruise is also being put into place. Foreign investors are very welcome as most of Burundi remains unspoiled. For example, Burundi is fairly rich in minerals but needs help with the exploitation of mines. Due to its commitment to progress and improvement, Burundi is a model for other African countries and has sent help to resolve other conflicts.
I would like to highlight the role of women and the government measures implemented to ensure the involvement of women. A government subsidized program is set in place to allow women to give birth in hospitals with modern tools at their disposition rather than at home. This act has decreased the infant and maternal mortality rate. Also, elementary school is now free, meaning that the education of girls has increased. Additionally, women compose half of the senate, thus ensuring their participation in Burundi’s development.
Despite being a recent addition to the diplomatic corps in the Netherlands, I am very honoured to have been appointed ambassador to the Netherlands and will continue in my endeavours to forge better communication and understanding with my country in the hopes of establishing a strong tie between the two entities.