In Burundi, the six texts listed below constitute essentially the legal framework specific to the telecommunications sector:

  • Decree-Law n°1/011 of 4 September 1997 establishing organic provisions on Telecommunications (Décret-Loi n°1/011 du 4 septembre 1997 portant dispositions organiques sur les Télécommunications) ;
  • Decree n°100/182 of 30 September 1997 establishing the articles of the Agency for the Regulation and the Control of Telecommunications “A.R.C.T.” (Décret n°100/182 du 30 septembre 1997 portant statuts de l’Agence de Régulation et de Contrôle des Télécommunications « A.R.C.T. ») ;
  • Ministerial Ordinance n°520/730/540/231 of 9 April 1999 setting the conditions for the Telecommunications Sector exploitation activities (Ordonnance Ministérielle n°520/730/540/231 du 9 avril 1999 fixant les conditions d’exploitation des activités dans le Secteur des Télécommunications)
  • Decree n°100/286 of 12 October 2007 regarding the reorganization of the Ministry for Transport, Posts and Telecommunications (Décret n°100/286 du 12 octobre 2007 portant réorganisation du Ministère des Transports, Postes et Télécommunications) ; and
  • Ministerial Ordinance n°730/1056 of 7 November 2007 related to Telecomunications network and services interconnexion open to the public (Ordonnance ministérielle n°730/1056 du 7 novembre 2007 relative à l’interconnexion des réseaux et services des télécommunications ouverts au public).
  • Ministerial Ordinance n°540/1143/2013, regarding the fixing of the minimal quote and taxation of terminal calls for internationals telephones communications in Burundi (Ordonnance ministérielle n°540/1143/2013, portant fixation du seuil minimal et de taxation de la terminaison d’appels des communications téléphoniques internationales au Burundi.)

Telecoms & Information Technology

Telecommunications is defined as any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by optical wire, radio or other electromagnetic systems or visual signaling.

Article 5 of Ministerial Order No. 520/730/540231 of 9 April 1999 , laying down the conditions for operating activities in the Telecommunications Sector, states that obtaining operating licenses and cards are mandatory.

Licensing legal framework

The Ministerial Order No 520/730/540/231 dated 9 April 1999 provides that any natural or legal person wishing to operate a telecommunications service open to the public must conclude a concession agreement with the Government. The operator must as well be first approved by the Agency for Regulation and Control of Telecommunications (“ARCT”) as an economic operator for Telecommunications (Article 17 of the above said Ministerial Order).

The concession agreement with the Government is obtained by addressing to the ARCT a request for an operating concession of a public service (Article 18 of above said Ministerial Order). The application for concession must contain the following information:

  • Identification of the applicant;
  • The nature and characteristics of the service;
  • Areas of service coverage;
  • The conditions of confidentiality and neutrality of the service in terms of messages transmitted;
  • the standards and specifications of the network and service;
  • technical equipment specifications; and
  • the conditions of permanence, availability and quality of service of basic telecommunications networks.

The application must also contain the statutory references of the applicant and the feasibility study of the proposed development. (Article 19 of above said Ministerial Order as well as Article 20 of the Decree No 100/182 of 30 September 1997 relating to the Statutes of the Agency for Regulation and Control of Telecommunications).

The operating license/authorization is granted by the Ministers of National Defense and Telecommunications after receiving technical advice from the ARCT. The operating agreement will be signed between the ARCT and the licensee (concessionary).

The start of the operations of the concession will however be conditional on first obtaining an operating license issued by the ARCT once payment of fees (which are paid annually – Article 21 of above said Ministerial Order) has been made (Article 18 of above said Ministerial Order).

There is a mention in Article 13 of the above said Ministerial Order of approval from the National Communication Council (Conseil National de la Communication), but nothing further is added about how such approval is applied for. In addition to the approval from the National Communication Council, the operating license applicant for a radio or television station is required to indicate the following information:

  • Technical and financial resources it intends to use;
  • The aim;
  • The nature and probable composition of the program;
  • Key employees;
  • The place where the transmitting station will be installed;
  • The make and type of the issuer;
  • The schedule of proposed issue;
  • The category for which the application is made;
  • The maximum power supply;
  • The complete diagram or issuers;
  • The coverage area.

Should there be any operating agreements signed between two or more public and private operators, it must first be authorized by the ARCT which examines the opportunity (Article 23 of above said Ministerial Order).

Telecommunications licenses for non-public operators

The Government as well has the authority to authorize a person or entity other than the public operator to establish and operate a telecommunication network to meet the needs of the market and compatible with the proper performance. Such authority will have fixed conditions for the following:

  • The use of frequencies allocated;
  • The conditions for the establishment of the network and those providing the service;
  • Services required for defense and public safety;
  • Charges related to the use of radio spectrum;
  • The contribution of the operator to research, training and standardization in telecommunications;
  • Interconnection and access charges to the public network requirements;
  • The duration, the conditions for termination and renewal of the authorization.

The above requirement is as well applicable for telecommunication services that require the establishment of a new radio network.

Agency for Regulation and Control of Telecommunications (“ARCT”) 

The ARCT was created by decree No. 100/182 of 30 September 1997. The ARCT has the powers to ensure the control and regulation of telecommunications as well as to grant operating licences in the sector. The ARCT has the following mission and roles:

  • Provide oversight of the telecommunications industry;
  • To participate in treaty negotiations, agreements and international regulations relating to telecommunications and regional and international conferences on telecommunications.
  • Enforce the tariff policy;
  • To define the rules for the use of leased circuits or networks to private users;
  • Allocate and manage the radio frequency spectrum;
  • Granting operating permits links, networks independent private value-added services provided by public and private operators;
  • Provide technical advice to the government for permission operating commercial services.
  • To grant subscribers permission to install, the network construction and equipment to private contractors approved;
  • Approve the subscriber terminal equipment and authorize the sales and public network connection;
  • To establish the intention of the government, the concession conditions operating and charges for operating licenses, with operators;
  • Pay contributions to regional and international organizations Telecommunications;
  • To ensure that interconnection agreements to the public network are non-discriminatory, fair and reasonable, and offer more benefit to all users;
  • To ensure that interconnection agreements comply with the standards, techniques, quality requirements, the security and confidentiality of conversations and data transmitted;
  • Establish procedures for resolving disputes between suppliers and service users, and respond to referral;
  • Establish laws and regulations governing the installation and provision of telecommunications services to the public;
  • Ensure the preservation of national security interests and sovereignty;
  • Ensure that the State of Burundi is well represented in the national and international organizations and conferences in telecommunications;
  • Conclude agreements or concessions for the establishment and holdings in telecommunications; and
  • Conclude treaties, international conventions and regulations field of telecommunications.