Burundi to get 68 mln euros in EU aid to boost power supply

BUJUMBURA Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:08pm EST

BUJUMBURA Feb 22 (Reuters) - The European Union will give Burundi 68 million euros ($89.91 million) to be used to improve electricity generation and transmission in rural areas to improve food production in the tiny central African country, an EU official said on Friday.

International donors will fund 49 percent of Burundi's 2013 budget of 1.3 trillion francs ($855 million). While the government fears that global economic and financial troubles could reduce external aid, it expects to receive grants worth 645.3 billion francs this year against 523.2 billion francs in 2012.

European Union's commissioner for development, Andris Piebalgs said that of the aid announced on Friday., 50 million euros will go toward rural electrification and developing small and medium hydro power plants to benefit around one million people living in rural areas.

"There can be no development without energy and, unfortunately the energy situation in Burundi remains one of the worst in the world, with daily power cuts being experienced by most people, he told a news conference at the end of a two-day visit to Burundi.

Only 3.5 percent of people in Burundi have access to electricity while demand for it grows by 13 percent every year.

Piebalgs said another 18 million euro to help the coffee producing nation improving food security for 80,000 undernourished children. ($1 = 0.7563 euros) (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by George Obulutsa; editing by Ron Askew)

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