Burundi's FDI more than doubles in 2012 - investment board

BUJUMBURA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Burundi grew by 120 percent to $229 million in 2012, thanks to reforms that allow businesses to be set up more quickly, the national investment board said on Thursday.

The bulk of investment went into the processing industry, information and communications technology, and agro-business. The tiny tea- and coffee-producing central African country collected $104 million in 2011 in FDI.

Burundi was ranked among the top five improved economies in the World Bank's 2013 Doing Business report, rising to 159th place out of 185 countries.

"Today, someone can start a business in less than 24 hours, have a trade licence in one hour and the fiscal identification number can be issued in less than 15 minutes," Alexis Girukwishaka, investment promotion manager at Burundi Investment Agency (API), said.

Domestic and combined investment climbed to 436.5 billion Burundi francs ($267.04 million)in 2012, up from 229 billion francs in 2011.

"2012 was a successful year, in all 69 projects were processed compared to 54 projects the previous year," Girukwishaka told Reuters.

He gave no projection for 2013 investment, but API expects FDI to continue growing.

API said it expected the 2012 investments to generate 1,366 new permanent jobs.

Burundi's economy remains small compared to its east Africa neighbours. The landlocked nation has a hefty trade deficit and a weak local currency. Its franc fell 14.3 percent versus the dollar in 2012. ($1 = 1634.6000 Burundi francs) (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by James Macharia and Stephen Nisbet)