Burundi has applied to join the East African Development Bank (EADB). Enos Bukuku, the EAC Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, said the Bank’s governing council would consider the application. Modelled on other regional development banks, EADB’s mandate is to support “risky” projects that commercial banks would not touch. The African Development Bank owns about 6.76 per cent of the Bank while Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania each hold 27.20 per cent. Rwanda owns 4.34 per cent. Kigali applied to join the EADB in 2007 and was admitted the following year. But it has taken Burundi almost seven years, since its admission into the EAC, to seek admission into the EADB.
The main reason for the delayed application, according to Dr Bukuku, is the country’s alignment to the Francophone countries. Burundi has now applied to join the Commonwealth, an organisation of English-speaking nations, mainly Britain and its former colonies. Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in November 2009. The Kampala-based EADB has been trying to position itself as the leading development lender in the region, which is its core objective. According to the Bank’s strategic plan for 2011 to 2015, funding for key economic sectors will be increased through direct lending to projects and programme loans to countries. The target sectors are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), food production, education and skills development, health, trade and infrastructure.