Burundi Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Burundi has quite a lot of natural resources but its extraction is small due to political concerns and lack of electricity. The poor expansion of the electricity grid causes most of the country to be sunk in the dark when the sun goes down. Extensive logging has resulted in severe soil degradation.

Gold, tungsten (former tungsten), cassiterite (tartar), coltan and bastnäsit (a rare mineral first described by Wilhelm Hisinger in Bastnäs in Västmanland in 1838) are mined on a smaller scale. There are quite large deposits of nickel, which, however, are not extracted due to political instability and electricity shortages.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Burundi with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

Burundi also has plenty of vanadium and is believed to have significant amounts of uranium. Oil has been found beneath Lake Tanganyika and in the Ruzizi Valley, but still only test drilling has taken place. There are also conditions for some oil extraction in some parts of the inland area. Burundi also has some phosphates and deposits of the unusual magnetic rock carbonatite.

The statistics on Burundi’s trade in minerals are unreliable due to extensive smuggling across the borders of Rwanda and Congo-Kinshasa. According to the World Bank, almost half of Burundi’s mines are operated without a permit. There is information that only one fifth of the gold leaving the country is sold through official exports, the rest smuggled out.

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Almost all household energy comes from wood and peat. The industry mainly derives its energy from imported oil products.

According to the World Bank, only a tenth of the population has access to electricity, and more than 90 percent of electricity consumption is in the capital Bujumbura. Burundi has some small hydropower plants that generate most of the domestic electricity, but the production does not cover the entire electricity demand. Some of the electricity must be imported.

Forest logging in combination with the livestock crop has caused major problems with soil erosion. Burundi is estimated to have lost 40 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010.


Carbon dioxide emissions in total

440,000 tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

0.0 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

95.7 percent (2015)



Three members of the CNDD-FDD are murdered

Three members of the CNDD-FDD government party are murdered in a bar in eastern Burundi. Five men in military clothes are said to have tied up the victims before shooting them.

The army clashes with rebels

About 40 people are killed when fighting erupts between government soldiers and an unidentified rebel group near the Congo-Kinshasa border. The army claims that 34 rebels have been killed while the army lost a soldier. However, locals state that at least five army soldiers have been killed. The rebels must have entered Burundi from the Congolese region of Kivu.

The UN concludes peacekeeping efforts

After about two decades of presence in Burundi, the UN ends its peacekeeping operations in the country. The opposition is critical of the UN personnel being taken home when the political situation in Burundi is so unstable before the 2015 general elections.

Truth Commission established

After a delay of eleven years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set up to review decades of violence in Burundi. The establishment of such a commission was enshrined in the Arusha peace treaty in 2000 and would have been implemented by 2003. The UN Security Council in a resolution in 2005 demanded the establishment of the Commission. The process of appointing participants in the Commission is boycotted by the Tutsid-dominated party Uprona on the grounds that its only real task is to pardon violent perpetrators. Reconciliation cannot be achieved solely on one party’s terms, according to Uprona. The Commission consists of six Hutus, four Tutsis and one two. The chair is the Catholic bishop Jean-Louis Nahimana, who is a hutu, while an Anglican archbishop from the Tutsi people is the vice-chair.


Criticism from the UN

UN reporter on human rights issues, Michel Forst, says that activists who question the Burundian government are exposed to unacceptable and increasingly harsh harassment. Civil rights activists and journalists are subject to physical threats, threatening anonymous telephone calls, assaults, arbitrary arrests and legal harassment.


Prison for slander by the government

Opposition leader Léonce Ngendakumana is sentenced to one year in prison for defamation by the government. He is said to have made false accusations against the government and stirred up racism when, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, he accuses the CNDD-FDD government of preparing for ethnic cleansing similar to the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994. Ngendakumana leads the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC), an association of nine opposition parties.


Criticism of “hot campaign”

Amnesty International accuses the ruling party CNDD-FDD of running a campaign against the opposition ahead of the June 2015 presidential election. According to the human rights organization, the limited freedom of expression and assembly constitute a violation of human rights. Amnesty particularly accuses the party’s youth association Imbonerakure of violence and harassment of political opponents.

June 2015 presidential election

The Election Commission announces presidential elections until June 26, 2015.


Party leaders agree on a code of conduct

The leaders of 44 political parties sign a code of conduct for the 2015 elections in order to help ensure that the elections can be conducted under free and peaceful forms.


UN report raises concerns

A UN diplomat is then expelled for a report leaked to local media in which the UN accuses the ruling CNDD-FDD of distributing weapons to members of the party’s youth federation Imbonerakure. The report raises concerns about renewed violence in the country ahead of the 2015 presidential election.

The UN calls for dialogue

The UN Security Council expresses strong concern about the political situation in Burundi and calls on the country’s parties to hold a dialogue on all relevant issues. The US ambassador calls on President Nkurunziza to shed light on plans to change the constitution.


Constitutional proposals are voted down

With a single overweight vote, Parliament rejects the government’s proposal for a new constitution (see November 2013). The proposals were criticized internationally for risking the ethnic balance. Despite Parliament’s decision, the government says President Nkurunziza can run for a third term, as he was elected indirectly by Parliament in 2005 and not directly by the people.


Tensions within the government

The Tutsidominated party Uprona leaves the government, where it has had three ministers. The tension between Uprona and the Hut-dominated CNDD-FDD has increased since the Hutu majority began to try to push through an extension of President Nkurunziza’s term (see November 2013). Nkurunziza appoints a new vice president and three new Uprona ministers, but the party’s leadership says the four represent a government-created bankruptcy and that the appointments should be appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Burundi Energy and Environment Facts

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