On October 20th, a conference by the Free Tech Institute was held at the Martha Hotel in Bujumbura, to shed light on the importance and perspectives of digitalization in business and how investing ‘seriously’ in digitalization can catapult Burundi’s development
In his opening remarks, Belyï Nobel Kubwayo, the Executive Director of Free Tech, host of the event, stressed that embracing digitalization has become a key driver of success for individual prosperity as well as the wealth of nations in today’s era.
According to him, “by leveraging digital tools and technologies, businesses can streamline their operations, enhance customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge.” Therefore, Kubwayo believes that there is an urgent need for Burundian businesses to adapt to the digital era in order to thrive in today’s global marketplace which is the reason why the conference was organized.
Professor Désiré Louis Nizigiyimana, a teacher and researcher at the University of Burundi and a panelist at the conference, highlighted the numerous advantages of digitalization, particularly in the realm of public services. “Digitalisation has the potential to improve accessibility and save time in delivering public services. By embracing digital solutions, governments can enhance efficiency, reduce bureaucracy, and provide citizens with more convenient and streamlined services.”
Security Challenges and the Need for Cybercrime Laws
One crucial aspect that emerged from the conference was the security challenges posed by digitalisation.
As matter of fact, cybercrime is not a new issue in Burundi, as evidenced by the high number of incidents in 2018. During that year, a total of 462 individuals were arrested for pursuits related to cybercriminality, 1,373 complaints were filed, and 126 people were convicted, all while facing challenges such as limited resources for investigations and gaps in the existing legislation.
Florence Kankindi, a lawyer at Rubeya & Co-Advocates, pointed out the the void of laws on cybercriminality in Burundi. She acknowledged that while specific laws on digitalization are yet to be established in the country, there is a clear desire from the government and other stakeholders to implement measures to protect against cybercrime.
In 2022, the bill regarding the prevention and punishment of cybercrime in Burundi was approved by the National Assembly, but its enactment is still pending.
In the absence of comprehensive cybercrime laws, Kankindi suggested some immediate steps individuals can take to protect their data. She recommended purchasing safe softwares and utilizing antivirus programs as a minimum precautionary measure. While these steps may not address the larger legal challenges, they can provide some level of protection for individuals and businesses against potential cyber threats.
SUCCES STORY: During the World Investment Forum organized in Abhu Dabi, in October 2023, The UN Conference on Trade & Development awarded the Electronic One Stop Shop for company registration, located within Burundi Development as the “Best digital single window Award”.
According to the ADB, this award is “a reflection of the ongoing reforms that are being carried out to improve the business climate, particularly in the area of company registration and with the aim of making it easy, quick and cheap.”