TANZANIA and Burundi have, for decades, enjoyed good diplomatic ties and as years unfold there have been cementing of the relations, extending the same to trade ties.
The two East African Community (EAC) member states have been working together on several fronts. A visit to Burundi by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on July 16 and 17 this year and the visit by her Burundian counterpart, Mr Evariste Ndayishimiye to Tanzania have brought the partnership to greater heights.
Since ascending to the highest office, President Samia has been working on improving diplomatic ties with several countries. Burundi being a strategic partner, she came out with several directives to enhance trade ties. On Friday the duo spoke of several areas of cooperation that would benefit people of both countries.
After her visit to Bujumbura and issuance of the directives, there have been several meetings of technical teams from the two countries, laying groundwork for enhancing business flow; trade ties are set to flourish.
While in Burundi, President Samia addressed a Business Forum that brought together Tanzania and Burundi traders, calling for more trade between them.
Tanzania is continuing to upgrade the ports of Dar es Salaam, Kigoma, Karema, Kasanga and Kabwe to ease the movement of people and goods.
Strengthening of trade relations has been seen as technocrats from Works and Transport Ministries from both countries had their strategic meeting in August, special focus being come up with a partnership in the use of Dar es Salaam Port and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
President Samia had instructed the Ministry of Works and Transport to allocate space within the dry ports that would specifically handle cargoes destined for Burundi.
President Samia also directed the Ministry for Works and Transport and the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) to improve railway transportation linking the two countries in a bid to smoothen movement of people, goods and services.
An improved railway line connecting the two countries will definitely play a crucial role in increasing the volume of Burundi’s cargoes imported through Dar es Salaam Port. We witnessed last Friday, President Ndayishimiye laying a foundation stone for the construction of a 400bn/- Ntracom fertiliser factory being built at Nala area in the capital city Dodoma and that is owned by a Burundian.
The factory that is at 40 per cent of its completion set for October next year will, among other things, provide employment opportunities to Tanzanians, with 3,000 direct employments and 7,000 other indirect jobs.
It is expected to produce 600,000 tonnes of natural fertiliser.
That is a milestone. As Tanzania has a huge demand for natural fertiliser, the factory will be beneficial to growers and Tanzanians generally in agricultural activities. Burundi and her people will also benefit, as some of the fertiliser will be exported to Burundi for the same purposes.
As members of the EAC, Tanzania and Burundi are on the right track to keep good relations, diplomatic and trade ties when the Head of State has been insisting on economic diplomacy, it is high time that business bodies of the two countries work together.
There are areas to invest and work on by Burundians and Tanzanians, such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, banking, food processing sectors and transport to make sure that the volume of intra-EAC trade is increased.