TANZANIA and Burundi have committed to deepen and strengthen economic ties through expanded trade and investment, with a goal of achieving decent livelihoods in both countries.
President John Magufuli and his Burundian counterpart, President Evariste Ndayishimiye have agreed to work together to ensure economic growth and advance peace and stability in the two countries.
The two presidents have directed their Ministers for Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation and Ministers for Works, Transport and Communication to meet immediately so that they can set strategies for execution of various projects.
President Ndayishimiye was on his first state visit since he was elected in June, this year.
The Burundian Head of State who was accompanied by his wife, ministers and other governmental officials was warmly welcome to the Western region of Kigoma with a colourful military parade and a 21-gun salute.
Speaking after holding talks with his guest at the Kigoma State Lodge, President Magufuli said Tanzania was happy to receive the Burundian President, and that it was a great honour for the country to be chosen for the first state visit.
"President Ndayishimiye has given us great respect, this is his first state visit since he was sworn in as the president of Burundi, and he chose Tanzania to be the first country for him to visit," said President Magufuli.
The Head of State said they have agreed to strengthen economic ties by boosting businesses and working together in many areas, saying the two countries need to increase trade volume for a better future of both countries' economies.
He said so far the trade volume for 2019 between Tanzania and Burundi was 201bn/-, from 115.15bn/- recorded in 2016.
However, President Magufuli said the two countries can fair better if all plans will be implemented to boost business.
He said the two governments are looking forward to build a joint venture refinery industry for processing nickel which is found in Kabanga, Ngara District in Tanzania and Msangati in Burundi.
He said Burundian traders have also been allowed to utilise the Kigoma mineral market so that they can benefit from the business.
"Our neighbours will be able to sell minerals here in Kigoma instead of moving around looking for market, they will also benefit from the business," he noted.
He added that Tanzania is also looking forward to strengthening the Kigoma port and constructing a dry port to facilitate water transport and ease movement of goods from the Dar es Salaam port to Burundi.
At least 95 per cent of Burundian cargo is imported and exported through the Dar es Salaam port.
Dr Magufuli said the government is planning to buy two vessels in Lake Nyasa, where one will have a capacity to haul 600 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo, while another one will be a cargo ship with the capacity to carry 4000 tonnes of cargo.
"We are also engaged in the renovation of our two old vessels, MV Liemba and MV Sangara, which are also very important for the economic growth of both countries," said President Magufuli.
He added: "We want Kigoma to become a business hub in this area, where Burundians will be able to trade and engage in various economic activities through Kigoma," On air transport, Dr Magufuli said the government is looking forward to expanding the Kigoma airport so that it could accommodate major flights, saying that the airport will be home to flights from Bujumbura and other cities in the area, which will facilitate economic growth.
"Our people will be able to fly direct from Bujumbura to Kigoma, Dar es Salaam and Europe, this is what we want Kigoma to look like, and this is a great opportunity for Burundi and traders in the region," he noted.
On railway, President Magufuli said they have agreed to send a team of experts to study on the possibility of constructing a 200 kilometer railway line from Uvinza through Msangati to Gitega in Burundi.
According to Dr Magufuli, the railway will facilitate the transportation of various goods, including nickel and other minerals from Burundi.
"We need things to be in action, we are looking for an alternative, we can even construct a narrow-gauge railway, what we want here is to see things happening, our traders and goods must be in movement from one place to another for the betterment of our people," he explained.
He said all business opportunities must be utilised for the two countries to prosper economically, adding that Burundi recently recorded good performance economically and that the government received 23 million US dollar from African Development Bank for the construction of a dry port in Bujumbura.
President Magufuli asked other international organisations and financial institutions to support Burundi, saying the country is stable.
He also asked Burundian refugees to return home since the country is now peaceful and stable.
On joining the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Head of State said the process for admitting Burundi to the bloc is going on well, and that the country will probably join in the near future.