Bujumbura, Tuesday, June 4, 2019: In the next few months, Burundi is set to increase its export products after an ongoing capacity building programme for its national certification and standardization agency is completed.
A total 439,384 euros have been allocated, under the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM), funded by the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF), to build the capacity of the Burundi Bureau of Standards (BBN) on standardization and quality control.
The Bureau is set to receive laboratory equipment for analysis and testing, vehicles to help with its metrology-related inspections, and staff training. This will strengthen the services provided by the BBN to improve the market access of Burundian products to regional and international markets.
On Monday this week, Secretary General of COMESA Chileshe Kapwepwe visited the BBN laboratories during her first mission to Burundi. Conducting the SG on a tour of the facility, the BBN Director Dr. Jean Felix Karikurubu, pointed out the various limitations facing the institution.
“Currently, our laboratories have the capacity of testing 140 parameters. With the COMESA support, we shall be able to add 60 more and qualify the bureau for accreditation and certification,” Dr Karikurubu said.
So far, COMESA Secretariat is finalizing the procurement of laboratory equipment and two pickup vehicles for BBN. Additionally, the first national awareness workshop on the role of standards in trade facilitation is ongoing this week.
Secretary General observed that participation of Burundi in the regional markets, that are opening through the tripartite and the continental free trade areas, require goods of high quality hence the imperative need to strengthen the Bureau.
“A country can only access regional and international markets if its products are of high standards,” she said. “Regional integration is not limited to goods and services but also in the standards.”
Under the support, the BBN will be enabled to conduct a survey for setting up a database of industrial processing units. It will also conduct market surveillance activities through verification of legal metrology instruments and calibration of industrial metrology equipment and carry on-site inspections, thanks to the purchase of the vehicles.
The purchase and installation of equipment for a Global Positioning System (GPS) system will also be done to enable evaluation and verification of the global positioning of the capacities of Processing Units. At least ten BBN staff will be trained on the GPS system.
Similar support was provided, though the CAF programme to the Burundi Revenue Authority (BRA) to enhance the ASYCUDA World Features and Implementing the National Electronic Single Window” project which came to an end in December 2018.
During a visit to the Authority, Mr. Audace Niyozima, the Commissioner General, said that despite some success in reaching some of its objectives (cleaning of bugs in the previous ASYCUDA version and operationalization of the electronic payment), the project could not however be completed. He thus indicated that he was looking forward for the support from COMESA to mobilize more funds to support its completion.
Secretary General promised to engage the European Union, which funds the CAF to complete the project noting that it had made a difference in revenue collection for Burundi.
The COMESA Adjustment Facility provides adjustment support to countries as they implement the COMESA regional integration programmes. It is currently funded by the European Union under the RISM through a Contribution Agreement with COMESA.
Burundi is one of the two countries that was the first to benefit from the programme through revenue loss compensation of €12.7m that resulted from joining the East Africa Community Customs Union. Since the programme began, in 2009, the country has received a total of 15.5 million euros.