WCO Secretary General reaffirms commitment to regional integration in Africa and reviews Burundi’s Customs modernization

20 November 2023

At the invitation of Mr. Jean Claude Manirakiza, Commissioner General of the Burundi Revenue Office (OBR), , WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya visited Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi on 16 and 17 November. The visit aimed to discuss the progress made since his last visit in 2019 and to explore avenues for future cooperation.

Burundi is a landlocked country situated between Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is a member of East African Community and is keen on benefitting from regional cooperation and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Burundi's geographical position as a landlocked nation underscores the importance of its participation in regional trade initiatives.

In the management meeting with OBR, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted that landlocked countries and small island economies are the two types of nations that stand to benefit significantly from trade facilitation initiatives. This includes enhancing connectivity with neighbouring countries within the context of global and regional integration.

In terms of adherence to WCO standards, Burundi has updated its Harmonized System (HS) to the latest 2022 version, facilitated by support from the WCO and EU-Africa Project. This update will enable Burundi to promote intra-African trade more effectively. The country is also progressing towards acceding to the Revised Kyoto Convention. During his visit, Dr. Mikuriya toured an enterprise certified as an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) and learned about the benefits they have received. Additionally, he observed the implementation of technology advancements, such as the installation of a cargo electronic tracking system in August 2023. This system, linking Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC, represents a significant step in improving regional trade logistics.

After visiting the border post at Ruhwa, located between Rwanda and DRC, Dr. Mikuriya held a meeting the Minister of Finance, Mr. Audace Niyonzima. Recalling their previous meeting in 2016 when Mr. Niyonzima was the CG of OBR, they reviewed the advancements achieved and discussed on strategies for continued collaboration.