During a 2 day mission to Burundi to discuss the implementation of the current 2019 plan for cooperation, the DECP representative could again observe the very difficult circumstances in which the national employers’ organisation, the “Association des Employeurs du Burundi (AEB)”, has to work.
Since the heavy troubles and killings in 2015, the country is facing very serious political and economic problems. It is barred from EU support due to heavy human rights violations. About half a million people fled the country. Economic growth is non existing; all investment, both local and international, is more or less suspended due to the persistent instability; in the national plan the private sector is hardly considered; unemployment and poverty are wide spread and soaring.
The AEB does in these circumstances what it can with its very limited resources. It maintains some basic level of activities in social dialogue with the trade unions, on issues of labour law and social affairs, and tries to maintain a basic level of communication with its members.
AEB is keen to do more to give the private sector a voice, but given the very limited resources it has at present available, it counts on DECP for support to achieve these additional activities.
A first area of more intensive focus is directed at the improvement and expansion of its the communications efforts. AEB will indeed augment the frequency and the quality of its communication in order to increase AEB’s visibility towards members and decision makers.
On the membership side, a survey amongst members will be organised to analyse the members perception on AEB and to seek additional information on members and potential members’ needs: information to be used to increase the relevancy of the AEB activities and hence positively influence adherence and retention.
Furthermore, it is a pleasure to see that AEB will launch some training services to support its members and to make the membership of the organisation also of practical usefulness for the concrete needs of member companies : trainings in HR, tax issues and labour law are planned to be launched soon.
In each of these activity areas, DECP will lend some financial support and its technical expertise.
On the policy side, AEB will launch, with the help of a well-known local economist and support of DECP, a study on the business environment and a list of concrete proposals for regulatory reform and better governance . This will form the basis for a business agenda to be ready in the running up to the legislative and presidential elections foreseen for May 2020.
It is indeed high time to enhance and improve the business environment for the private sector in Burundi, as to attract foreign investment and allow local business to grow. Indeed, to allow and promote the private sector is probably the only way for the country to find some alleviation for the huge problems of poverty and instability it is now facing.