Special Economic Zones (SEZ)

Special Economic Zones are currently considered as indispensable tools for attracting both domestic and foreign investment. This mechanism is also included in the Protocol Establishing the Customs Union of the East African Community (Articles: 29, 31 & 32).

The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy of the East African Community (EAC) currently being drafted defines an SEZ as being an area or a part of the customs territory, geographically defined, placed under an administrative and management authority, restricted access, where appropriate and any goods brought in can generally be considered for import duties and taxes as being outside the customs territory. A SEZ is governed by liberal and specific economic laws that grant more incentives to accredited investors than those subject to common law.

A SEZ has a developed infrastructure or has the potential to be developed for the operation of various activities deemed to be of economic importance. A SEZ can also provide essential transport and logistics infrastructure such as ports, highways, railways and airports, social services and residential areas.

The SEZ project is of strategic economic importance for Burundi as a privileged crossroads for the distribution of goods in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Kigoma Region in the United Republic of Tanzania. The other member countries of the East African Community, in particular Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, have already adopted this investment promotion tool. To that end, Burundi has decided to adopt the best practices that have already proven themselves not only in the Community but also in other emerging countries such as China, India and Egypt.

To facilitate the implementation of this flagship project, a joint commission chaired by the CEO of the Investment Promotion Authority is set up to identify the field and define the administrative and legal framework of the project.