Having spent this past Christmas in Bujumbura it seemed opportune to get updated on the current developments as I delved into some comparison of Rwanda and Burundi.
Straight off, one need not belabor their obvious similarities. But there are those who would like to think that the two countries are like fraternal twins, just short of being identical.
The countries not only share the same hilly topography, but gained independence from Belgium and share a similar language and culture.
The metaphor of fraternal twins seems especially apt in that the two countries also joined the family of the East African Community at the same time in July 2009.
Joining the EAC seemed natural given the proximity and the tremendous progress gained by both countries after having emerged from violent conflict; Rwanda in 1994 following the Genocide against the Tutsi and Burundi in 2005 following a truce and the general elections that saw the swearing in of President, Pierre Nkurunziza for his first term.
Interestingly, it may be this difference in the dates that the two emerged out of conflict that appears to set them apart.
Seventeen years after the Genocide appears the older sibling of the two with the progress that has been gained in all sectors of development.
Having started national reconstruction in earnest only six years ago, it means that Burundi has some way to go. But it determinedly follows close behind as, given the Rwandan example, the country has all the potential to catch up with its immediate northern neighbour and other EAC partner states.
It is a fact of nature that each country is endowed differently, and the tourism sector provides one example.
While Rwanda has Nyungwe Forest and the gorillas as lucrative tourist attraction, Burundi has had Lake Tanganyika to reap from its rich pickings. A number of resorts have of late come up to exploit the lake’s possibilities beginning with its unique fauna, including cuisine and water sports such as water skiing.
Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest fresh water lake and encompasses four countries, including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in the Russian region of Siberia.
The lake holds at least 400 species of fish, many of which are popular among aquarium owners due to their bright colors. Lake Tanganyika is also an important biological resource for the study of how the fish specialized as they have evolved in that environment.
The above provide a tremendous opportunity for Burundi, which can only be good for Rwanda and the EAC partner states in terms of investment and, and as efforts continue to expedite having in place the EAC single tourist visa.
As the twin countries of Rwanda and Burundi continue to fascinate many, it can only be applauded that peace and security reigns and should be ensured by the partner states for our mutual good as EAC citizens.