BURUNDI – The East African Community, in collaboration with the Burundian government and the African Development Bank (AfDB), officially inaugurated the Agro-Pastoral Entrepreneurship and Professional Development Project on October 26, 2023, in Gitega.

The initiative, designed to foster agri-food entrepreneurship and professional development, will see the establishment of a regional polytechnic training and retraining center in Rusi, located in the province of Karusi, approximately 50 kilometers from Gitega, the political capital of Burundi.

The African Development Bank is a key financier of this project, committing US$20 million, which accounts for 87% of the total project cost.

The groundbreaking ceremony, which marked the commencement of construction activities at the center, was graced by the Minister of Education and Scientific Research, François Havyarimana, the Minister in charge of Youth, Gervais Abayeho, Hendrina Chalwe Doroba, Head of the East Africa Region’s Education and Skills Development Division within the Bank, and Pascal Yembiline, Head of the Bank’s country office in Burundi.

The polytechnic training center, spanning 156 hectares, with 142 hectares dedicated to agro-pastoral production, aims to train over 2,000 students, with a goal of having 30% female representation.

Additionally, the project envisions providing capacity-building sessions for 3,000 cooperatives, benefitting 15,000 members, with a focus on achieving gender balance by targeting 50% women participants.

 The initiative will also establish connectivity between ten digital centers across the nation and the Rusi center, facilitating broader access to technical education.

Expressing his appreciation, Minister François Havyarimana highlighted the alignment of the project with Burundi’s vision for the future, emphasizing its crucial role in achieving the country’s goals of becoming an emerging nation by 2040 and a developed one by 2060.

Minister Gervais Abayeho emphasized the project’s consistency with the government’s priorities, particularly in enhancing agricultural productivity and introducing innovative agri-food processing techniques to stimulate a structural transformation of the economy.

Pascal Yembiline extended gratitude to Burundi for involving the African Development Bank in this extensive professional retraining program, aimed at equipping young people and women with the necessary technical skills essential for the country’s economic growth.

Yembiline contextualized the project within the Bank’s broader strategy, citing the recently launched Action Plan for Skills Development for Employability and Productivity in Africa (2022-2025), designed to address the skills gap in the context of the fourth industrial revolution and digital transformation.

As construction commences on the agro-food polytechnic training center, the collaboration between the East African Community, the Burundian government, and the African Development Bank stands as a beacon for sustainable development and empowerment in the region.

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