Burundi gets $2 billion aid pledge, UN says

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Donors have pledged more than US$2 billion for Burundi’s 2012-2015 development strategy to help the central African nation rebuild after civil war, said the United Nations.

“We ended up with more than $2 billion registered commitments at the conference,” Pamphile Muderega of the National Aid Coordination Committee said in a statement.
“This represents a doubling of our already optimistic expectations,” he said.

The statement was issued by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) at the end of two days of talks in Geneva, attended by more than 400 representatives from more than 50 governments and the private sector as well as the European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank, Reuters reports.

The World Bank pledged $440 million, and the United States and EU made firm commitments, UNDP spokesman Adam Rogers said.

Burundi’s poverty-reduction strategy focuses on growth, job creation and development of the private sector, with agribusiness, tourism and mining seen as key drivers of growth.

The government has projected this year’s growth at around 4 percent. It relies heavily on external aid to fund spending with donors expected to provide 60 percent of its 2012 budget.

Burundi expects its economy to expand by 5 percent annually over the next three to four years, below the rate needed to lift it out of poverty, finance minister Tabu Abdallah said in an interview with Reuters in Bujumbura last week.

With relative peace since rebels joined the government in 2009 after almost two decades of civil war, it is now working to quit the list of least developed countries and to start self-financing its national budget by 2025.
“Burundi is now out of the post-conflict period and is truly committed to the path of development,” President Pierre Nkurunziza said in the UNDP statement.