By Jacob Mosenda

Dar es Salaam. The governments of Tanzania and Burundi yesterday identified areas of cooperation that would enable the citizens of both countries to benefit from the business opportunities that exist in the two neighbouring nations.

The two Presidents – Samia Suluhu Hassan and Évariste Ndayishimiye – also agreed to continue cooperating in improving business and investment environments to attract more investments into their countries.

One of the shortcomings blocking growth of trade between the two countries was pointed out as insecurity in Burundi. Gowever, this was said to be history and things have changed after President Hassan expressed Tanzania’s satisfaction with the current security situation.

The two Heads of State were briefing the media after holding private talks following the arrival of President Ndayishimiye yesterday in the capital Dodoma on a four-day official tour.

This will be President Ndayishimiye’s first State visit to Tanzania during the regime of President Hassan – and the second within a year. President Hassan said that they agreed on various aspects of the relationship and cooperation between the two governments, including looking at areas that still have serious security concerns and agreeing on how to work together in dealing with the situation.

“We commend the Burundian government for strengthening the security and safety of its people. The government of Burundi has taken steps to promote peace and stability through national unity…

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“Burundians are now not talking about tribes, they are talking about one tribe of Burundians,” said President Hassan.

She noted that they have agreed to extend the railway line between Tanzania and Burundi from Uvinza-Msongati-to-Gitega, 160km of which are in Tanzania, and 80km in Burundi.

President Hassan also said that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has expressed interest in joining in the project which would then extend the railway line from Uvira in Burundi to Kindu in the DRC. Last January, the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the project.

“The aim of the project is to enable these countries to transport cargoes through our port of Dar es Salaam, especially various minerals, including nickel,” said the Tanzania Head of State.

In strengthening that, President Hassan said that she had informed her Burundian counterpart that Tanzania had already issued a licence to Kabanga Nickel Company so that in addition to mining nickel, they could build a factory to process the minerals in Tanzania.

“This will open up the market and make the Burundian government sell its nickel in the country,” she said.

She said that, given the fact that the Tanzania Ports Authority has an office in Bujumbura, “through my talks with President Ndayishimiye, I have invited Burundian businessmen to make good use of the office in importing and exporting cargo through Tanzanian ports.”

Also, they agreed to work together in the business sector to look into the current setbacks, let alone the pandemic, to see trade grow further. In getting Burundi to use the payment system used in East Africa through banks, she said they had instructed the governors of the central banks of Tanzania and Burundi to meet and plan how to do it.

“We have talked about the factory under Itracom Fertilizer Limited from Burundi being built in Dodoma where we promised to give all cooperation so that the factory can be completed next year and start producing,” said President Hassan.

For his part, President Ndayishimiye took the opportunity to commend Tanzania for its integral part it played that has resulted in the current state of affaris in Burundi.

However, he said the Tanzanian government had promised to support Burundi in its interest to join the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and called on the countries that imposed economic sanctions on Burundi to remove them.

“Diplomatic efforts are underway to remove the barriers completely,” he said.

He said Burundi had not yet made progress in the mining sector so they expressed their willingness to learn the expertise from Tanzania where a memorandum of understanding had already been signed.

“Burundi will soon start importing coal from Tanzania to develop its steel industry,” noted Mr Ndayishimiye.

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