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Executive Summary

Benin has been a democracy since 1990, enjoying until recently a reputation for regular, peaceful elections.  In 2018, the National Assembly adopted and the government implemented stringent rules for political parties to qualify to participate in legislative elections.  In February 2019, the independent election commission announced that no opposition party had met the new rules, leaving only two, pro-government parties on the April 2019 legislative election ballot.  The 2019 legislative elections were neither fully competitive nor inclusive.

Months after taking office in 2016, President (and former businessman) Patrice Talon launched an ambitious USD 15 billion five-year Government Action Plan (“Programme d’Actions du Gouvernement” or PAG).  The PAG lays out a development plan structured around 45 major projects, 95 sector-based projects, and 19 institutional reforms.  With the goals of strengthening the administration of justice, fostering a structural transformation of the economy, and improving living conditions, the projects are concentrated in infrastructure, agriculture and agribusiness, tourism, health, and education.  The government claims the PAG will create 500,000 jobs, though the President’s critics see plenty of room in the PAG for sole-source contracts profiting administration insiders.  The Talon administration’s revocations of certain high-dollar contracts signed under the previous administration in favor of new ones with Talon-allied companies have fed this latter perception.

Benin’s overall macroeconomic conditions were positive in 2017 and 2018, with an increase in GDP growth in 2018 due to a well performing agricultural sector led by cotton production, while economic recovery in neighboring Nigeria, on which Benin’s economy heavily depends, also contributed to growth.  The cotton industry, the Port of Cotonou, telecommunications, agriculture, energy, the cement industry, and housing are the main economic drivers or prospects for investment. The country’s GDP is roughly 71 percent services, 21 percent agriculture, and 8 percent manufacturing.

Benin continues its efforts to attract private investment in support of economic growth – a link the government sees as central to boosting Benin’s development prospects.  Since 2015, it has had a one-stop business startup, investment promotion, and foreign trade promotion center, the Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (APIEX). The Talon government has pinned significant hopes on mobilizing private sector funding for major infrastructure development projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs).  A new law to facilitate PPPs was enacted in 2017 with an eye toward attracting additional Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The government updated the country’s investment and public procurement codes in 2018 in compliance with the PPP law.

In June 2017, a five-year, USD 375 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact with Benin entered into force.  The Benin Power Compact is advancing policy reforms to bolster financing for the electricity sector, attract private capital into power generation, and strengthen regulation and utility management.  Infrastructure funded by the compact includes 46 megawatts of power generation capacity, modernization of the Cotonou and regional distribution grid, and expansion of minigrids. As two thirds of Benin’s population does not have access to electricity, the compact also includes a significant off-grid electrification project via its clean energy grant facility.  This follows Benin’s 2006-2011 compact, which modernized the country’s port – the principal source of government revenue – and improved land administration, the justice sector, and access to credit.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 85 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 153 of 190 
Global Innovation Index 2018 121 of 127 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $2.0 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $800 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies toward Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Benin actively encourages foreign investment.  The creation of APIEX in 2015 resulted in a dialogue between the Government and investors to implement reforms and improve Benin’s business environment.  The APIEX mission is to reduce and, where possible, eliminate administrative barriers to doing business and to attracting additional foreign direct investment.  The agency has significantly reduced processing times for registration of new companies (from 15 days to one day) and construction permits (from 90 to 30 days). In July 2016, Benin passed a law establishing a commercial tribunal of first instance and a commercial appellate court, a move that is expected to expedite the settlement of business-related disputes.  The full-service office that expedites customs clearances, reduces the cost of clearances, and minimizes processing barriers to clearing cargo at the Port of Cotonou makes it possible to obtain cargo clearance within 48 hours of the date of its off-loading at the Port of Cotonou, though in practice this tends to take somewhat longer. The reinstitution of the cargo inspection and scanning program known as PVI (le programme de vérification des importations), first tried in 2012 resumed operations at the Port of Cotonou in 2017.  Under the PVI program, private company Benin Control scans 10 percent of all imports, with containers selected randomly for scanning. Benin Control bills all containers exiting the Port of Cotonou – regardless of whether they are selected for scanning – at the rate of 35,000 FCFA (USD 68) for a 20-foot container, and 45,000 FCFA (USD 78) for a 40-foot container.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Beninese law guarantees the right to own and transfer private property.  The court system enforces contracts, but the judicial process is often inefficient and plagued by corruption.  Enforcement of rulings is problematic. Most firms entering the market work with an established local partner and retain a competent Beninese attorney.  A list of English-speaking lawyers and legal counselors is available on the Embassy’s website

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In 2015, the Beninese government conducted an investment policy review (IPR) jointly through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  Further to a 2016 fact-finding mission, the UNCTAD Report on the Implementation of the IPR of Benin assesses progress in implementing the original recommendations of the IPR, and highlights a few more policy issues to be addressed in the investment climate. The full report may be found at .

Business Facilitation

In an effort to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourism revenue, Benin has instituted a visa-free system for African nationals.  Those traveling on non-African passports can obtain e-visas through an online process for short stays at  /.  The country is also planning to open four new trade offices abroad to enhance Benin’s international business opportunities.  One is already underway in Shenzhen, China; others will be located in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.

Benin made property registration simpler and less expensive in order to boost the real estate market and improve access to credit.  The measures apply to real personal property, estate and mortgage taxes, and property purchase receipts, with the aim of reducing corruption in the property registration process.  In order to register property, individuals and businesses must present a taxpayer identification number (registration for which is now free). Land registration and property purchase certifications are free, but there is a fee for obtaining a property title.  In a related measure, the government issued 2,513 titles free of charge in 2016 for owners of land that had been registered with the financial and technical assistance of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s first compact with Benin.

It should take roughly 24 hours to register a business, and there is no need for a notary’s assistance.  APIEX serves as the single investment promotion center and conduit of information between the foreign investor and the Beninese government.

Benin defines:

  • Micro-enterprises as having less than five employees;
  • Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) as having between five and 99 employees.  SMEs may be a subsidiary of an international firm.

A full-service office – run by a private company under the supervision of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport – is charged with expediting customs clearances and minimizes processing barriers to clearing cargo at the Port of Cotonou.  This office makes it possible to obtain cargo clearance within as little as 48 hours after its off-loading at the Port of Cotonou, though in practice this tends to take somewhat longer.

Outward Investment

The Beninese government has no policies or incentives in place to encourage the country’s businessmen to invest abroad.  The Beninese government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Benin’s Land Act, enacted on August 24, 2013, and amended in 2017, codifies real property rights.  Land ownership disputes account for 80 percent of the cases seen by Beninese tribunals. The Land Act is designed to ensure fair access to land and protect ownership rights.  It stipulates that unoccupied acquired land cannot be reverted to other or previous owners (though there still exists the risk of squatters). The Land Act establishes a transparent legal procedure for obtaining and documenting ownership, reduces property speculation in urban and rural areas, and encourages land development.  In an effort to identify property owners and register land titles, the government declared that the land registration process would be free of charge until further notice.

The Land Act stipulates that development projects financed by international or multinational agencies cannot involve or lead to forced evictions.  The state is obligated to do everything possible at each stage of development project implementation to ensure due respect of economic, social and cultural rights recognized by international conventions and covenants and guarantees by the Beninese constitution.

Secured interests in real and personal property are recognized and enforced.  Benin’s legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of property, land, buildings, and mortgages.  Secured interests in property are registered with the Land Office of the Ministry of Finance. However, it is recommended that foreign and non-resident investors buy land with title deeds and the intervention of a notary public in order to help avoid any land disputes that may result from the acquisition process.  Large land leases for investment in rural areas are enforced by local city halls in conformity with the Land Act. Additional information regarding the acquisition of property may be found at the Beninese Land Agency’s website at  .

Intellectual Property Rights

Benin is a signatory to both World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties.  As a member of the World Trade Organization, Benin is party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  However, enforcement of intellectual property rights is constrained by Benin’s limited capacity.

In July 2016, Benin’s Director of Pharmacies announced the seizure of 2.4 tons of counterfeit solid and injectable medication from a private residence in Cotonou and the arrest of a suspect.  In February 2017, the government seized another 80 tons of counterfeit drugs in Cotonou and the court found 12 individuals guilty of illegally acting as pharmacists.

Benin is not included in the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2019 Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .


Executive Summary

Botswana has a population of 2.2 million and is centrally located in Southern Africa, enabling it to serve as a gateway to the region.  Botswana has historically enjoyed high economic growth rates and its export-driven economy is highly correlated with global economic trends.  Development has been driven mainly by revenue from diamond mining, which has enabled Botswana to provide infrastructure and social services. The economy grew by 2.9 percent in 2017 after registering growth of 4.3 percent in 2016, which was mainly due to a significant contraction in the mining sector (Bank of Botswana Annual Report 2017).  In recent years and during 2018 inflation remained at the bottom end of the central bank’s 3 to 6 percent spectrum.  According to the Government of Botswana (GoB), investments within Botswana totaled USD 6.6 billion in 2015. Botswana is classified as an upper middle-income country by the World Bank based on its per capita income of USD 7,595.

Botswana is a stable, democratic country with an independent judiciary system.  It maintains a sound macroeconomic environment, fiscal discipline, a well-capitalized banking system, and a crawling peg exchange rate system.  Moody’s and S&P rate Botswana’s sovereign debt as A2 and A-/A-2, respectively. Botswana has minimal labor strife. It is a member state to both the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) convention and the 1958 New York convention.  Corruption in Botswana remains less pervasive than in other parts of Africa; nevertheless, foreign and national companies have commented on increasing tender-related corruption. The World Bank ranked Botswana 86 out of 190 economies in the category of Ease of Doing Business in 2019, falling by five places from 81 in 2018, although Botswana’s score increased slightly from 64.94 in 2018 to 65.40 in 2019 due to improvement in dealing with construction permits.  The country also fell in the 2018 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index to 90 out of 140 from 85 out of 135 in 2017.

The GoB created the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to assist foreign investors, offers low tax rates, and has no foreign exchange controls.  Its topline economic goals are to diversify the economy, create employment, and transfer skills to Botswana citizens. GoB entities, including BITC, use these criteria in determining whether it assists foreign investors.  The GoB is currently drafting an investment facilitation law with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) support. The GoB has committed to streamline business-related procedures, and remove bureaucratic impediments based on World Bank recommendations as part of a business reform roadmap; under this framework, it introduced some electronic tax and customs processes in 2016 and 2017.  It also set up the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) to streamline investment in sector-targeted geographic areas in the country.

In addressing the ease of doing business challenges, the GoB, through the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), has taken a firm step towards the implementation of the ease of doing business reforms.  Parliament passed legislation that will enable the streamlining of the company registration process from 12 working days to one day. The Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) is working with New Zealand to develop the relevant online systems.  Discussions are ongoing to bring other organizations to streamline and simplify their processes as well.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 34 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 86 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 91 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $6,730 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The GoB publicly emphasizes the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).  It is currently drafting an investment facilitation law, as recommended by the 2014 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) investment review.  UNCTAD is providing technical assistance in support of the legislation.  The GoB has launched initiatives to promote economic activity and foreign investment in specific areas, including the establishment of hubs to promote economic growth in the agriculture, diamond, education, health, and transportation sectors.  Additional investment opportunities in Botswana include large water, electricity, transportation, and telecommunication infrastructure. Economists have also noted Botswana’s considerable potential in the mining, mineral processing, energy, cattle, tourism, and financial services sectors.  The Botswana Trade and Investment Centre (BITC), the GoB’s investment and trade promotion authority, assists foreign investors with projects intended to diversify export revenue, create employment, and transfer skills to Botswana citizens.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Botswana’s 2003 Trade Act reserves licenses in 35 sectors for citizens, including butcheries, general trading establishments, gas stations, liquor stores, supermarkets (excluding chain stores), bars (other than those associated with hotels), certain types of restaurants, boutiques, auctioneers, car washes, domestic cleaning services, curio shops, fresh produce vendors, funeral homes, hairdressers, various types of rental/hire services, laundromats, specific types of government construction projects under a certain dollar amount, certain activities related to road and railway construction and maintenance, and certain types of manufacturing activities including the production of furniture for schools, welding, and bricklaying.  The law allows foreigners to participate in these sectors as minority joint venture partners in medium-sized businesses. Foreigners can hold the majority share if they obtain written approval from the trade minister.

The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), which administers the citizen participation initiative, has taken an expansive interpretation of the term chain stores, so that it encompasses any store with more than one outlet.  This broad interpretation has resulted in the need to apply exemptions to certain supermarkets, simple specialty operations, and general trading stores. These exceptions were generally granted prior to 2015 and many large general merchandise markets, restaurants, and grocery networks are owned by foreigners as a result. Since 2015, the GoB has denied some exception requests, but reports they have approved some based on localization agreements directly negotiated between the ministry and the applying company.  These agreements reportedly include commitments to purchase supplies locally and capacity building for local workers and industry.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In December of 2014, the OECD released an Investment Policy Review on Botswana. (  ).

Botswana has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 1995. As a member of the Southern African Customs Union, the WTO last conducted a trade policy review in 2016. (  )

Business Facilitation

To operate a business in Botswana, one needs to register a company with the GoB’s CIPA.  The registration forms are available online from the MITI website:  .  According to CIPA the company registration process takes about 14 days, and it takes approximately 48 days to complete additional required registrations such as tax registrations, opening bank accounts, and obtaining necessary licenses and permits.  The World Bank ranked Botswana 157 out of 190 in the ease of starting a business category. In April 2018, CIPA announced a partnership with a New Zealand company to install a new online registration system, which will reduce the company registration process from 12 days to one.  The system is expected to be launched by July 2019.

BITC (  ), the GoB’s investment promotion agency, was designed to serve as a one-stop shop to assist investors to set up a business and find a location for operation.  BITC’s ability to streamline procedures varies based on GoB entity and bureaucratic requirements.

BITC’s criteria for support for investment projects is whether the project will diversify the economy away from dependence on diamond mining, and whether it will create jobs for and transfer skills to Batswana citizens.  The BITC also hosts the Botswana Trade Portal (  ) designed to ease trade across borders.  It is a single point of contact for all information relating to import and export to and from Botswana and represents a number of ministries and parastatals.

Botswana has a number of incentives and preferences for both citizen-owned and locally based companies.  Foreign-owned companies can benefit from local procurement preferences which are usually required for government tenders.  MITI instituted a program in 2015 to give locally based small companies a 15 percent preferential price margin in GOB procurement, with mid-sized companies receiving a 10 percent margin, and large companies a 5 percent margin.  Under this policy, MITI defines small companies as having less than five million pula in annual revenue reflected in their financial statements, medium companies with 5,000,001 to 19,999,999 pula in revenue, and large companies with 20 million pula or more. The directive applies to 27 categories of goods and services ranging from textiles, chemicals, and food, in addition to a broad range of consultancy services.

For Companies Act registration purposes, enterprises are classified as follows: Micro Enterprises —less than six employees including owner and annual turnover of up to 60,000 pula; Small Enterprises — less than 25 employees and annual revenue between 60,000 and 1,500,000 pula; Medium Enterprises — less than 100 employees and an annual revenue between 1,500,000 and 5,000,000 pula; Large Enterprises —more than 100 employees and an annual revenue of 5,000,000 pula or more.  This classification system permits foreigner participation as minority shareholders in medium-sized enterprises in the 35 business sectors reserved for citizens.

Outward Investment

The GOB neither promotes nor restricts outward investment.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights are enforced in Botswana.  The World Bank ranks Botswana 80 out of 190 in the Registering Property category.  There are three main categories of land in Botswana: freehold, state land, and tribal land.  Tribal and state land cannot be sold to foreigners. There are no restrictions on the sale of freehold land, but only about 5 percent of land in Botswana is freehold.  In the capital city of Gaborone, the number of freehold plots is limited.

State land represents about 25 percent of land in Botswana.  On application to the Department of Lands, both foreign-owned and local enterprises registered in Botswana may lease state land for industrial or residential use.  Commercial use leases are for 50 years and residential leases are for 99 years. Waiting periods tend to be long for leasehold applications, but subleases from current leaseholders are available.  In 2014, the GoB changed its implementing regulation to allow companies with less than five employees to operate in residential areas if their operations do not pose a health or safety risk to residents.

Tribal land represents 70 percent of land in Botswana.  To obtain a lease for tribal land, the investor must approach the relevant local Land Board.  Processes are unlikely to be streamlined or consistent across Land Boards.

Since independence, the trend in Botswana has been to increase the area of tribal land at the expense of both state and freehold land.  Landlord-tenant law in Botswana tends to be moderately pro-landlord.

In addition to helping investors who meet its criteria obtain appropriate land leaseholds, BITC has also built factory units for lease to industrialists with the option to purchase at market value.

Intellectual Property Rights

Botswana’s legal intellectual property rights (IPR) structure is adequate, although some improvements are needed.  The key challenge facing the GoB is effective implementation. The Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) was established in 2014 and is comprised of three offices: the Companies and Business Office, the Industrial Property Office, and the Copyright Office.  Intellectual property is registered through CIPA. The priorities of this Authority are to strengthen and implement Botswana’s IPR regime and improve interagency cooperation. IPR infringement does occur in Botswana, primarily through the sale of counterfeit items in low-end sales outlets.  In 2017, CIPA cooperated with the Botswana Police to seize 12,923 counterfeit CDs and DVDs valued over USD 107,000.00. The U.S. government continues to work with the GoB to modernize and improve enforcement of IPR.

IPR is protected under the Industrial Property Act of 2010, which provides protections on patents, trademarks, utility designs, handicrafts, traditional knowledge and geographic indicators.  The 2000 Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act also protects art and literary works and the 1975 Registration of Business Names Act oversees corporate name and registration procedures. Other IPR-related Laws include the Competition Act, the Value Added Tax Act, the Botswana Penal Code, the Customs and Excise Duty Act, the Monuments and Relics Act, the Broadcasting Act, and the Societies Act.

Botswana is a signatory to the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs, the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, the Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.  For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .

Resources for Rights Holders

Goitseone Montsho
Economic/Commercial Specialist
+267 373-2431

Local lawyers’ list:

Burkina Faso

Executive Summary

Burkina Faso welcomes foreign investment and actively seeks to attract foreign partners to aid in its development.  It has partially put in place the legal and regulatory framework necessary to ensure that foreign investors are treated fairly, including setting up a venue for commercial disputes and streamlining the issuance of permits and company registration requirements.  More progress is needed on diminishing the influence of state-owned firms in certain sectors and enforcing intellectual property protections. Burkina Faso scored 59.4 out of 100 in the 2019 Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index and ranked 78 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Index.

The gold mining industry has boomed in the last seven years, and the bulk of foreign investment is in the mining sector, mostly from Canadian firms.  Moroccan, French and UAE companies control local subsidiaries in the telecommunications industry, while foreign investors are also active in the agriculture and transport sectors.  In June 2015, a new mining code was approved with the intent to standardize contract terms and better regulate the sector, but the new code is not yet fully operational. In 2018, the parliament adopted a new investment code that offers many advantages to foreign investors. This code offers a range of tax breaks and incentives to lure foreign investors, including exemptions from value-added tax on certain equipment.  Effective tax rates as a result are lower than the regional average, though the tax system is complex and compliance can be burdensome. Opportunities for U.S. firms exist in the energy sector, where the government has an ambitious plan for the installation of new power capacity in both traditional and renewable sources.

Despite significant progress in building democratic institutions, the recent political and security environment in Burkina Faso has been marked by a series of terrorist attacks, especially in the northern and eastern regions, and the rise of self-defense groups comparable to militias in rural areas.  Most recently, in March 2018, the Army headquarters and the French Embassy in Ouagadougou were the targets of a terrorist attack. The government is still struggling to balance security concerns with its economic priorities, and will continue to face the twin challenges of too few resources and high public expectations.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 78 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 151 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 124 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $731 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

In his policy statement delivered on February 18, 2019 at the National Assembly, the newly appointed Prime minister focused on the resolution of Burkina Faso’s economic difficulties.  He acknowledged the low productivity of the production sectors. He considered six measures to boost economic activity including improving the business and investment climate. He also stated that the government will strengthen the conduct of reforms, including those contained in the minimum matrix of business climate reform, in order to improve Burkina Faso’s Doing Business ranking and foster the development of the private sector.

The World Bank published the 2019 Doing Business Report (DB/2019), on November 1, 2018. This report announced a slight drop for Burkina Faso in its ranking for “ease of doing business for small and medium-sized businesses” as it slipped in ranking from 148th place out of 190 in 2018 to 151st in 2019.

The government of Burkina Faso adopted the National Program for Economic and Social Development (PNDES) with the aim to structurally transform the Burkinabè economy in order to generate strong, sustainable, resilient, and inclusive growth and thus create decent jobs for all and improve social well-being.  The total amount of funding required for the implementation of the PNDES is CFAF 15,395.4 billion, or about USD 27 billion. Of this sum, it is expected that 63.8 percent (CFAF 9,825.2 billion or USD 17 billion) of the amount be mobilized by own resources, namely the mobilization of taxes. The other 36.2 percent (CFAF 5,570.2 billion or USD 10 billion) represents the need for funding from Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects, the mobilization of funds from the Burkinabe diaspora and technical and financial partners, and the voluntary contributions.

As of December 2018, According to PNDES Permanent Secretariat technicians, CFAF 3,884.5 billion of CFAF 9,825.2 billion (39.5 percent) was mobilized from internal resources.  Out of external resources, the amount of agreements signed amounts to CFAF 2,573.35 billion of CFAF 5,570.2 billion, or 46.2 percent. The main difficulties to internal revenue collection are related to security issues and strikes initiated by government workers.

Article 8 of the investment code stipulates there is to be no discrimination against US foreign investors.  However, in order for any foreign investor to benefit from the exemptions provided for by the investment code, they are required to submit a request to the General Directorate for the Promotion of the Private Sector.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHCLA).  All the Uniform Acts enacted by this organization are applicable in the country. Regarding business structures, OHCLA allows most forms of companies admissible under French business law, including: public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises.  With each scheme, there is a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.

From 1995 to 2018, Law 062-95, which was amended several times, governed investments in Burkina Faso.  However, in order to adapt this code to the new exigencies of the world economy and to respond to the fierce competition between states for attracting foreign investment, the National Assembly adopted a new Investment Code by Law 038 on October 30, 2018.  It replaces Law 062-95 of December 14, 1995, which presented several shortcomings, including the non-coverage of investments in renewable energies and hydraulics.

According to Article 5 of the Investment Code, certain sectors of activity may be subject to restrictions on foreign direct investment. Foreign companies wishing to invest in these sectors must follow a specific procedure specified by decree.  Burkina Faso has not established a procedure to scrutinize foreign direct investment. Under the investment code, all personal and legal entities lawfully established in Burkina Faso, both local and foreign, are entitled to the following rights: fixed property; forest and industrial rights; concessions; administrative authorizations; access to permits; and participation in government procurement process.

The investment code establishes a special tax and customs regime for investment agreements signed by the state with large investors.  This scheme provides significant tax benefits.

U.S. investors are not specifically targeted regarding ownership or control mechanisms.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

There have been no recent investment policy reviews by the WTO or UNCTAD.  In July 2014, the organizations Réseau Africain de Journalistes pour l’Intégrité et la Transparence and the Natural Resource Governance Institute published a report entitled “Impact of Tax and Customs Regimes on the Mining Sector and on the EITI Reports in Burkina Faso.”

Business Facilitation

In March 2013, the GoBF created the Burkina Faso Investment Promotion Agency (API-BF).  The establishment of the Presidential Council fulfilled recommendations of a 2009 UNCTAD Investment Policy Review.  The website is  .

To simplify the registration process for companies wishing to establish a presence in Burkina Faso, the government has created eight enterprise registration centers called Centres de Formalités des Entreprises, known by their French acronym as CEFOREs.  The CEFOREs are one-stop shops for company registration. On average, a company can register its business in 9 days according to the Doing Business report 2019. The CEFOREs are located in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Tenkodogo, Koudougou, Fada N’Gourma, Kaya, Dedougou and Gaoua.

In 2018, Burkina Faso strengthened protections for minority investors by enhancing access to shareholder actions and by increasing disclosure requirements on related-party transactions.  The 2019 Doing Business report ranked Burkina Faso 149th of 190 in minority investor protection.

Other sites of interest:

Chamber of Commerce business registration:  

Mining Chamber of Commerce:  

Investment Promotion Agency of Burkina Faso or l’Agence de Promotion des Investissements du Burkina Faso (API-BF):  

Tax and administrative procedures:  

World Bank Investing Across Borders:  

Among the 21 countries covered by the World Bank’s Investing across Sectors indicators in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, Burkina Faso is one of the more open economies to foreign equity ownership.  Most of its sectors are fully open to foreign capital participation, although the law requires companies providing mobile or wireless communication services to have at least one domestic shareholder.  Furthermore, the state automatically owns 10 percent of the shares of all companies active in the mining sector. The government is entitled to nominate one member of the board of directors for such companies.  Select additional strategic sectors are characterized by monopolistic market structures. In particular, the oil and gas sector, and the electricity transmission and distribution sectors.

Outward Investment

The Burkinabe Government tries to promote outward investment via the Investment Promotion Agency of Burkina Faso or L’Agence de Promotion des Investissements du Burkina Faso (API-BF), which sits under the Presidential Council for Investment (Conseil Presidentiel pour l’Investissement).  The API-BF’s mission is to promote the economic potential of Burkina Faso to attract investment and spur economic development.

Burkina Faso currently imposes no restrictions for investors interested in investing abroad, within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) regional markets.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Since the 2009 land tenure reform law, the government of Burkina Faso has been engaged in an effort to issue titles recognizing land ownership rights.  The first Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact focused on beginning this process in 47 communes, with plans for the government to expand the effort throughout the country.

Only about 5,000 land titles have been granted countrywide since 1960, according to the National Land Observatory, and the majority of those were issued pursuant to the first Millennium Challenge compact.  Obtaining a title is the last step in the process of land acquisition, and is preceded by obtaining a use permit or an urban dwelling permit, developing the land, and paying applicable fees. The title-holder becomes the owner of the surface and the subsoil.

Mortgages exist in Burkina Faso both for land and for structures.  Rules governing mortgages are set at the regional level by the West African Economic and Monetary Union, specifically under the Organization for the Synchronization of Business Rights in Africa (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique des Droits des Affaires (OHADA)).  Liens are not widely used.

Intellectual Property Rights

Burkina Faso has a legal system that protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights, including intellectual property rights (IPR).  Legal protection exists for intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and semiconductor chip design. In practice, however, government enforcement of intellectual property law is lax.  Burkina Faso is a destination point for counterfeit medicines, which can readily be purchased on the street in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.

Burkina Faso is not cited in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

Burkina Faso is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO).  The national investment code guarantees foreign investors the same rights and protection as Burkinabe enterprises for trademarks, patent rights, labels, copyrights, and licenses.  In 1999, the government ratified both the WIPO Copyrights Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). In 2002, Burkina Faso was one of 30 countries that put the WCT and WPPT treaties into force.  The government issued several decrees and rules to implement the two treaties.

The implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is under the purview of two ministries: (1) the Office of Copyrights (le Bureau Burkinabe des Droits d’Auteurs, or BBDA), under the Ministry of Art, Culture and Tourism, has the lead on copyrights and related rights, and (2) the National Directorate of Industrial Property, under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Handicrafts, has the lead concerning industrial property.  These two authorities have the technical competence to identify needs. Arrangements are underway to assess the needs for the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in Burkina Faso.

Statistics on the seizure of counterfeit goods are available upon request from the relevant agency.  For example, please contact BBDA if the inquiry pertains to artistic material, or contact the National Directorate of Industrial Property if it pertains to pharmaceuticals.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  


Executive Summary

Burundi is a landlocked country located in Central Africa and is one of the six member states of the East African Community (EAC).  A socio-political and economic crisis associated with the 2015 national elections, followed by a severe economic downturn, exacerbated the poor fundamentals of an already difficult investment climate.  Although a modest recovery is underway, economic growth remains insufficient to create employment for Burundi’s rapidly growing population. Burundi remains one of the world’s most impoverished countries, with approximately 90 percent of the population reliant on subsistence farming.

  1. Burundi’s landlocked location and infrastructure constraints limit transportation of goods and services.  Electricity demand significantly exceeds capacity and the transmission system is poorly maintained, leading to rolling blackouts.  Although activity has increased in the mining sector, the scale of the commercially exploitable resources remains unclear. Scarcity of skilled labor and low labor productivity limit growth in all sectors.
  2. The Government of Burundi (GoB) seeks to attract more foreign investment, but poor governance, de facto capital controls that limit the expatriation of foreign currency, corruption, poor infrastructure, and a low-skilled workforce limit foreign direct investment (FDI).  Economic statistics are often limited, unreliable, or irregularly published.
  3. Since 2008, members of the executive branch have granted large discretionary exemptions to private foreign companies by presidential decree or ministerial ordinance in order to attract FDI.  These direct government-to-company agreements undermine the Burundian tax law and the investment code. In addition to reducing revenues for the state, these exemptions injure private companies already operating in Burundi by granting advantages to select competitors.  The corporate tax rate is 30 percent, with reductions for companies that employ certain numbers of Burundian nationals.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 170 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 168 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 N/A

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Burundi (GoB) is generally favorable to FDI and seeks investment as a means to restore economic growth.  Uneven implementation of laws and regulations, however, limits the predictability of the environment for Burundian and foreign investors alike.  The GoB has not implemented laws, regulations, or economic or industrial strategies that limit market access or discriminate against foreign investors.  There is a minimum foreign initial investment of USD 50,000, which does not apply to domestic investors. An overview of the legal framework for foreign investment can be found at      

Based on the Burundi Investment Code enacted in 2008, the government established the Burundi Investment Promotion Agency (API) in 2009.  API’s main objective is to boost local investment and attract foreign investment, especially for projects serving long-term development goals and improving competitiveness.  API provides investors with information on investment and export promotion, assists them with legal formalities, including obtaining the required documents, and intervenes when laws and regulations are not properly applied.  API also designs reforms required for the improvement and the ease of doing business environment and ensures that the impact of investments on development is beneficial and sustainable.

The GoB conducts dialogues with national and foreign investors to promote investment.  API is the initial and primary point of entry for investors, but government ministries meet regularly with private investors to discuss regulatory and legal issues.  For example, in 2018, API organized a press conference to reassure investors of the GoB’s commitment to creating a conducive business climate.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic companies have the same rights to establish and own businesses in the country and engage in all forms of activities.  However, there are restrictions on foreign investments in weaponry, ammunition, and any sort of military or para-military enterprises. There is no other restriction nor are there any sectors in which foreign investors are denied the same treatment as domestic firms.  There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control.

Article 63 of the 2013 mining code stipulates that the GoB must own at least 10 percent of shares in any foreign company with an industrial mining license and state participation cannot be diluted in the event of an increase in the share capital.

Burundi does not maintain an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

No investment policy review from a multilateral organization has taken place in the last three years.  The most recent review was performed in 2010 by UNCTAD.

Business Facilitation

In addition to fiscal advantages provided in the investment code, Burundi has implemented reforms, including reinforcing its single window for starting a business, simplifying tax procedures for small and medium enterprises, launching an electronic single window for business transactions, and harmonizing commercial laws with those of the East African Community.

The Investment Promotion Agency (API) is a government authority in charge of promoting investment, improving the business climate and facilitating market entry for investors in Burundi.  API offers a range of services to potential investors, including assistance in acquiring the licenses, certificates, approvals, authorizations, and permits required by law to set up and operate a business enterprise in Burundi.  API has set up a one-stop shop to facilitate and simplify business registration in Burundi. For now, investors must be physically present in country to register with API.

The business registration takes approximately four days and costs BIF130,000 (around USD 73).  For more details and information on registration procedures, time and costs, investors may visit API’s website on  .

There is no specific mechanism for ensuring equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities.

Outward Investment

The host government does not have mechanisms for promoting or incentivizing outward investment.  The host government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Secured interests in both real and movable property are nominally recognized under Burundian law.  The legal system in general and the investment code in particular claim to protect and facilitate the acquisition and disposition of all property rights.  The Land Titles Service registers real estate and security instruments, such as mortgages. Property titles are accepted as a guarantee by commercial banks for mortgages, but documents for properties located outside the capital city of Bujumbura are less easily accepted.

The legal system and the investment code do not differentiate local and foreign investors regarding land acquisition or lease.  However, land acquisition is subject to reciprocity between Burundi and the investor’s home country.

Properties in urban areas have to be registered.  However, according to estimates, more than 90 percent of houses and land in rural areas are not registered.  When the property has been legally purchased, it cannot legally be reverted unless it undergoes an expropriation procedure in compliance with legal and regulatory procedures.

Intellectual Property Rights

Burundi has adopted the 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights (TRIPS), which introduced global minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of virtually all intellectual property rights (IPR).  The legal system in general and the investment code in particular aim to protect and facilitate the acquisition and disposition of all property rights, including IPR. The law also guarantees protection for patents, copyrights, and trademarks. However, there is no record of enforcement action on IPR violations.  No IPR-related law has been enacted during the past year and no bills are pending.

The Burundi Bureau of Standardization (BBN) is the state authority responsible the monitoring of the quality of consumer products on the market; however, this Bureau lacks the necessary expertise and resources to be effective.  Counterfeiters who are apprehended are fined and their products are seized. There are no statistics available on seizures of counterfeit goods. Burundi is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Market List.

Cabo Verde

Executive Summary

The archipelago of Cabo Verde is composed of 10 volcanic islands and eight islets and is located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, some 450 kilometers west of Senegal.  It has a land area of 4,033 square kilometers, and a 700,000 square kilometer maritime Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). This small African state has a population of approximately 550,000 people spread over nine islands with limited natural resources.  Cabo Verde’s low proportion of arable land, scant rainfall, lack of natural resources, territorial discontinuity, and small population make it a high-cost economy lacking economies of scale. Cabo Verde’s economy is vulnerable to external shocks, and the country depends on development aid, foreign investment, remittances, and tourism.

Cabo Verde graduated to middle-income country status (2007) and met its Millennium Development Goals.  It enjoys political stability and has a history of parliamentary democracy and economic freedom that is unusual in the region.  Elections are free and fair, and there has always been smooth transition of power. Good governance, prudent macroeconomic management – including strong fiscal, monetary, and exchange-rate policies – trade openness and increasing integration into the global economy, and the adoption of effective social development policies have produced relatively positive results throughout the archipelago.  Broad political stability is expected to prevail in Cabo Verde, underpinned by strong democratic institutions and decent protection of human rights and civic freedoms. The business and investment climate continues to improve, although there are bureaucratic and cultural challenges to overcome.

The government program includes a commitment to privatizing various sectors of the economy and addressing macroeconomic challenges to create 45,000 new jobs by the end of 2020.  The government has implemented some economic reforms aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy and mitigate high unemployment, which remained unchanged since 2017 at 12.2 percent.  Signs of progress in creating jobs, however, are limited. Recent reforms and privatization of the national airline are starting to positively influence the quality of the air transportation business; although in financial terms, it will take several years to see major improvements.  Meanwhile, the government’s elevated debt level limits its capacity to finance any shortfalls. The economy is service-oriented, with tourism, transport, commerce, and public services accounting for more than 60 percent of GDP. Tourism alone accounts for approximately 25 percent of GDP, and it is expected to continue its strong performance. 

There are few regulatory barriers to foreign investment in Cabo Verde, and foreign investors receive the same treatment as Cabo Verdean nationals regarding taxes, license approvals and registration, and access to foreign exchange.  Foreign investment in Cabo Verde is concentrated in tourism and light manufacturing. In terms of transportation, Cabo Verde’s strategic geographic location places the country in a position to become a regional and international hub for both passengers and cargo, and the government is developing policies to realize this plan.

On the maritime front, the country remains underserved, with insufficient and inefficient maritime interisland transportation and undeveloped deep-water ports.  To offset this problem, the government signed a concession contract for interisland transportation of passengers and cargo in February 2019 with a consortium of Portugal’s Transinsular and some Cabo Verdean operators.  Operations are expected to begin in August 2019.

The energy sector in Cabo Verde is also undergoing important regulatory changes and attracting investment, which may result in a clearer framework to promote investment opportunities in the sector.  As a regional leader in renewable energy, Cabo Verde has wind farms built on four islands.  Currently, about 27 percent of the energy consumed in Cabo Verde comes from renewable sources.  The government’s goal is to increase this number to 50 percent by 2030, which presents additional investment opportunities for American companies in this sector.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 57 of 175 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 131 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018   N/A 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018   N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 3,030 USD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Cabo Verde looks to both private and foreign investment to drive the country’s economic growth with a focus on tourism, transportation services, renewable energy, and export-oriented industries.  The government increasingly promotes a market-oriented economic model where all investors, regardless of their nationality, have the same rights and are subject to the same duties and obligations under the law. The current administration, elected in 2016, has been investing in administrative decentralization, reduction of the state’s role in the economy, and the empowerment of the private sector, all with a view to improving the business climate to attract investments.

Cabo Verde is pursuing a dynamic economic strategy to encourage investment in the country in a wide variety of fields.  It has a clearly defined strategy for attracting investors, international financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, venture capital companies, bilateral partners, and all those interested in investing in the country in tourism, transportation, technology, industry, and trade, and other areas.  The government, in conjunction with international partners, is intensifying its efforts in promoting Cabo Verde’s opportunities for investment in a series of extensive roadshows and international conferences which started in Paris last December and are expected to cover Cabo Verde in July, the United States in late September, as well as in Senegal, Macau, Portugal and Spain.  These events are an opportunity to hear more about the measures Cabo Verde is taking to realize its sustainable development ambitions and the opportunities for new strategic partnerships with international donors and opportunities for investors.

The Cabo Verdean National Assembly approved a bill that creates tax benefits for foreign citizens who decide to buy a second home in Cabo Verde and grants permanent residence to all foreigners whose investment exceeds 180 million escudos (USD 2 million).

Cabo Verde TradeInvest (CVTI), the agency responsible for investment promotion, is the one-stop-shop for foreign investors.  It provides investor assistance based on the One-Stop-Shop approach, whereby all the services required for approving projects are centralized.  The investor can express interest in investing, attach the necessary documents for formalizing a project, and monitor all the project approval stages.  The investment approval process has been expedited with the revision of the external investment code. Although bureaucratic procedures have been simplified in a number of cases, there is still room for improvement.  Through CVTI, the government maintains dialogue with investors using personalized meetings, round tables, conferences, and workshops.

Services provided for the investor:

  • Helping formalize the expression of interest in investment and uploading project documents into the CVTI’s platform
  • Monitoring the investment process using a monitoring code
  • Facilitating the payment of certificate issuance fee

CVTI also provides the investor/exporter support with the following services:

  • Information about preferences of the country trade agreements Act (AGOA, ECOWAS, and others)
  • Market information
  • Organization of and participation in exhibitions, fairs, congresses, conferences, seminars or other events in the field of exports of goods and services in the country
  • Contacts with other State institutions, providing or promoting partnerships, etc.

CVTI has an After Care service aimed at supporting investors after they obtain their Investment Registration Certificate and implement their investment project.  CVTI assists investors in their implementation process, in resolving bureaucratic issues in conjunction with other public institutions, and in establishing reinvestment and export processes such as:

  • Obtaining operating authorization and licensing
  • Obtaining tax and customs incentives
  • Obtaining work permits for foreign workers
  • Obtaining visas for company workers
  • Assistance with obtaining housing for foreign workers
  • Assistance with registering workers with social security
  • Assistance to investors and their families in the process of settling in the country
  • Assistance with obtaining premises for company offices
  • Introduction to service providers, such as banks, lawyers, accountants, estate agents
  • Export assistance

For investments of less than USD 500,000, ProEmpresa and the Casa do Cidadão provide similar services for investors.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The country is investment-friendly.  Foreign investors, regardless of their nationality, have the same rights and are subject to the same duties and obligations as Cabo Verdeans under the laws of Cabo Verde.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

No reviews have taken place under Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  The first review of the trade policies and practices of Cabo Verde under the World Trade Organization (WTO) took place on October 6 and 8, 2015.

During 2018, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) conducted an Investment Policy Review (IPR) at the request of the government of Cabo Verde.  The IPR analyzed the legal and regulatory framework for investment. The report contains strategic analysis on how Cabo Verde can utilize FDI in the tourism sector as a leverage for sustainable development.  

Business Facilitation

In an effort to improve the investment climate and reduce the government’s approval time for investment projects, the government established a maximum period of 15 days for analysis and attribution of Tourist Utility status and 30 days for approval of the investment and export projects.

The 2019 State Budget law has adopted measures to facilitate and stimulate business activity, including lowering the maximum personal income tax (IRPS) one-percentage point to 24 percent,  and easing the Special Scheme for Micro and Small Businesses. The legislation has undertaken some new tax benefit measures, i.e., the elimination of double taxation, the release from payment in installments for taxpayers who had negative results or began their activity in the previous year, and the elimination of the obligation to pay the minimum installment.

The tax benefit package aimed to provide easier access to the benefits.  It reduced to 500 million escudos (USD 4.8 million) the investment level required to obtain contractual benefits and reduced the requirements on number of jobs created and expansion into new strategic sectors of the 50 percent investment credit. It also extended to 15 years the period for deduction of credit for investment.

The 2019 State Budget law contained governance clauses that commit the Cabo Verdean government to paying its bills within 45 days;  the law further commits the government to paying interest on late payments. These measures were adopted to ensure predictability in the payment of the state’s obligations to companies.  Parliament approved a law that limits public debt to less than 60 percent of GDP.

Registering a company is straightforward.  In 2008, the concept of business-in-one-day was introduced to expedite the establishment of companies (Decree-Law 9/2008).  The Commercial Registry Department (Casa do Cidadão), is a one-stop-shop where a company can be created and registered in less than a day.  The overall business environment has become more efficient. The process for launching a business is now more streamlined, and licensing requirements are less burdensome.

Websites with information on business registration procedures are available at   and  .

Step-by-step information on procedures, time, and cost involved in starting a company can be found at  .

As the agency in charge for the promotion and facilitation of investment in Cabo Verde, CVTI is the first point of contact for foreign investment in Cabo Verde. It offers an Electronic Platform, “One-Stop-Shop for Investments,” which is important for the promotion, settlement, and monitoring of investments in the country. The platform aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the investment processes, improving understanding and communication between CVTI, its customers, other stakeholders, public and private entities, and project developers of domestic and foreign investments. The “One-Stop-Shop” offers a single platform containing all the necessary services.

All information pertaining to investing in Cabo Verde can be found on CVTI’s website, including Cabo Verde’s Investment Law, the Code of Fiscal Benefits, and the Contractual Tax Benefits-Incentives  .  The platform is helping to de-bureaucratize the investment process, ensuring that the process is completed within a maximum period of 75 days.

Outward Investment

Incentives for outward investment in developing countries are not included in the legislation, but they have been provided on an ad hoc basis.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The access, use, and transfer of land and real estate are recognized and guaranteed by a series of norms that include the Constitution, the Civil Code and Legislative Decree 2/2007 (Land Law). Everyone, regardless of nationality, may acquire ownership rights or obtain special permits to occupy and use land.

There is a legal entity that records secured interests in property.  Property documents are obtained in the land registry (Certidão de Registo Predial), including an official map with the property’s exact location (Planta de Localização).  A tax information certificate (Certidão Matricial) is requested at the municipality.

If the property is unregistered, it is necessary to obtain a certificate confirming that the property is not registered in anyone else’s name (Certidão Negativa) and a tax certificate confirming this (Certidão Matricial). With these two documents, it is possible to register the property.  In 2016, the government made transfers of property less costly by lowering the property registration tax.

In 2017, Cabo Verde completed its second MCC Compact, worth USD 66.2 million, USD 17.3 million of which was dedicated to a Land Management for Investment Project.  The project aimed to improve Cabo Verde’s investment climate by supporting the government’s efforts in creating a single, reliable, and easily accessible source of land rights and land boundaries information.  It is expected to improve confidence in investment conditions for large and small investors and reduce land registration time and costs. The project has refined the legal, institutional, and procedural environment to create conditions for increased reliability of land information, greater efficiency in land administration transactions, and strengthened protections of land rights.  It developed and implemented a new land information management system and clarified parcel rights and boundaries on four targeted islands with high investment potential. The islands of Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio have been finalized, as well as all rural and high potential tourism zone parcels on the island of Sao Vicente. Cabo Verde ranks now number 70 in terms of Registering Property in the World Bank’s Doing Business report.

Despite progress, the process of the land cadaster (land information database) and registration reforms remains incomplete.  The government has expressed its determination to expand the reforms to the remaining islands.

Intellectual Property Rights

Legislation on intellectual property rights (IPR) is in line with international standards.  The legal framework has been revised in accordance with provisions of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreements and those of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  The law provides for the protection of intellectual property and establishes limits to protection.

On April 4, 2019, Cabo Verde completed the ratification of three important copyright treaties – the two so-called “Internet Treaties” and the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise seeing disabled.

The main laws and regulations for the protection of IPR are Decree-Law 1/2009 (amending the Law on Copyright 101/90), the Industrial Property Code (Decree-Law 4/2007), and the Resolution 25/2010 that created the Intellectual Property Institute of Cabo Verde (IPICV).

Cabo Verde is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .


Executive Summary

In December 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third review of Cameroon’s 2017 Extended Credit Facility (ECF), concluding that program performance had improved, though structural reforms remain delayed.  From June 2018, the ECF prescribed a package of reforms aimed at restoring external and fiscal sustainability and sustaining growth in Cameroon and Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).  The IMF also commented that risks from heightened global uncertainty, insufficient adjustment at the regional level, and continued insecurity in the Anglophone regions are increasing.  Cameroon had hoped hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN) soccer tournament would boost consumer spending, but lost the event in November 2018 due to serious delays in promised infrastructure improvements.  Delays are likely to increase the cost of the construction of the infrastructure earmarked for the tournament, now scheduled for 2021, and increase pressure on public finance and public debt.  Firms have claimed CEMAC is attempting to hoard foreign exchange as reserve buffers have failed to grow as expected.

Infrastructure, energy, and extractives remain priority areas for Cameroon.  The government offers incentives for investment in agriculture, technology, and manufacturing, especially when investments lead to the transformation of local commodities in Cameroon.  The government, under the auspices of the ECF, has ramped up tax collection on the relatively small number of companies that actually pay taxes, including foreign firms.  FDI inflows were lower than expected over the last year and the loss of CAN will lead to even lower foreign exchange inflows in 2019.

Cameroon’s ranking in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report – 166th out of 190 countries – and Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index – 152nd out of 175 countries – accurately reflect a business climate growing more difficult.  The most important factors that affect the business climate are dysfunctions within public administration, corruption, and poor infrastructure.  These challenges contrast with the country’s huge potential in terms of untapped natural resources and its strategic position as the gateway to landlocked neighbors.

Key Sectors

% of GDP





Services and consumer retail






Public Administration






Banking and Finance



Real Estate and Infrastructure Construction



Extractive industry (Oil, Gas, Mining)



Information & Communication Technology



Utilities (Electricity, Water)



Tourism, Media and Leisure





Source: Cameroon Ministry of Finance, IMF, World Bank

Sectors that have historically attracted significant investment are:


Agriculture has attracted significant investment over the past decade, mostly from the Cameroonian government.  Cameroon is often described as the breadbasket of Central Africa because it supplies foodstuffs to Nigeria (180 million people) and to the countries of CEMAC (50 million people).  Market opportunities exist in the transformation of raw crops into finished or semi-finished products.  Access to credit, poor infrastructure, securing land rights, and ongoing fighting between separatists and government security forces in the cocoa and coffee-growing regions are significant obstacles.


The economy of Cameroon and those of neighboring countries suffer from Cameroon’s poor roads, limited capacity of the aging rails, and the unreliability of the national airline.  The government has engaged in an ambitious program to upgrade and build new transport infrastructure, but Chinese companies dominate the sector.  Incentives to invest exist, though administrative procedures cause long delays.

Information & Communication Technology

Information and communication technology is the fastest growing economic sector in Cameroon, though internet penetration is still one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The mobile sector is still concentrated in the hands of four companies, including the state-owned Cameroon Telecommunication (CAMTEL), which also functions as the market regulator.  Despite CAMTEL’s monopoly on the communication backbone, such as sub-marine fiber optic cables, faster internet broadband and 3G-4G offer lucrative investment opportunities.

Extractive industry (Oil, Gas, Mining)

Cameroon has been an oil exporter since 1977.  Oil production has stagnated as prices fluctuated, but the country can count on untapped gas reserves estimated at 3.5 billion cubic meters.  The government dominates the sector and generally operates a revenue-sharing business model with foreign investors.

Banking and Finance

The financial sector of Cameroon has 15 banks, 26 insurance companies, one state pension fund, and one state-owned mortgage bank.  In addition, the country has over 400 microfinance institutions, a state-owned postal bank, and a nascent stock market based in Douala.  According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the total financial assets represent 40 percent of the national GDP, two-thirds of which is held by banks.  Less than 15 percent of Cameroonians have access to financial services.  There are investment opportunities in subsectors of the financial industry, particularly in conventional banking, risk protection, or in the increasingly popular mobile money business.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings




Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions Index


152 of 175

World Bank’s Doing Business Report


166 of 190

Global Innovation Index


111 of 126

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)


$9.0 m (2017)

World Bank GNI per capita



1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Cameroon considers attracting FDI an important pillar of its development strategy. Many Cameroonian institutions have bodies that work to attract FDI, with mixed results. At the same time, Parliament, the Executive Branch, and donors continue to work to improve framework laws and regulations in order to provide incentives to investors.

By law, the government does not prohibit or limit foreign investors, whether in their ability to establish an investment (market access) or to operate in the market. Investors interested in Cameroon can target any sector of the economy provided they comply with extant regulations. Though not official policy, foreign companies often face increased scrutiny.

In collaboration with public and private institutions, the Cameroon Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) implements government policies to promote and facilitate all forms of direct investment in Cameroon. To achieve this end, CIPA receives and studies investment proposals, assists with visa applications for foreign investors, and helps in the accreditation of companies. CIPA can enable access to related public facilities, simple administrative procedures, and guide investors through the legal compliance processes. CIPA also offers incentives and can reward investors with additional support if they maintain certain employment and export requirements.

CIPA Process Flow Chart

IPA (Investment Promotion Agency) MINFI (Ministry of Finance)
The government of Cameroon has stated that attracting and retaining investors is important. General laws and specific sector investment codes offer incentives for the retention of investors. Incentives scale up from the establishment phase to companies carrying out new investments. Business lobby groups, such as the Groupement Inter-Patronal du Cameroun and Enterprise Cameroon, maintain a dialogue through the Cameroon Business Forum, a platform supported by the government and donors to foster discussions on improving the business climate in Cameroon.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Despite an active government presence in most sectors of the economy, private entities – both domestic and foreign – can create and own businesses that engage in all forms of legal remunerative activities. They can also enter into joint ventures and public-private partnerships with the government.

There are no general economy-wide statutory limits on foreign ownership or control. Foreign companies have complained that, without a well-connected local partner, business can be challenging.

Cameroon has no laws or regulations that prescribe outright prohibition on investment, equity caps, mandatory domestic joint venture partners, licensing restrictions, or mandatory Intellectual Property (IP)/technology transfer requirements.
Cameroon has a screening process, which is applicable to all domestic and foreign investments. This screening process ensures that investors meet the criteria, such as employment and export quantities, to qualify for private investment incentives.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In June 2017, Cameroon signed a three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) agreement the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The program included structural reforms to accelerate and consolidate growth and control spending. Under the terms of the agreement, the IMF has conducted three policy reviews.

The IMF expressed satisfaction on the progress of the implementation of reforms while urging the country to implement stronger measures on budget transparency and the improvement of the business climate. In the area of public expenditure, the World Bank published a review in late 2018. The review examines public expenditure data over a period of 10 years with the objective of assisting Cameroon in the restoration of fiscal stability. 

Business Facilitation

According to the World Bank’s Investing Across Borders (IAB) Report, it takes 14 procedures and 82 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) in Douala, Cameroon. This process is lengthier and more complex than the IAB regional and global averages. While only two additional steps are required of foreign companies compared to domestic ones, these steps add an additional 48 days to the overall establishment process. A declaration of foreign investment to the Ministry of Finance is mandatory 30 days prior to the beginning of the establishment process. In addition, if the company wants to engage in international trade, registration in the importers’ file is required to obtain a “sydonia” number (a custom computer identification). This number facilitates the entry and exit of goods produced by the company. The authentication of the parent company’s documentation abroad is required only to establish a subsidiary. Foreign-owned resident companies that wish to maintain foreign currency bank accounts in Douala must obtain prior approval. The Minister of Finance issues such authorization, which is subject to approval from the Bank of Central African States as per Section 24 of the exchange control regulations. This approval takes on average 38 days to obtain. There is a minimum paid-in capital requirement of CFA 1,000,000 (~USD 2,060) for setting up foreign as well as local LLCs.

In April 2016 with the support of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the European Union, Cameroon launched an online business registration website called The government hopes that this platform will simplify the business creation process and amplify entrepreneurship promotion policies. The site should present real time data on business creation, which the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and the National Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises can use to improve interactions between different market actors. The government indicates that after a year, the website collected market data on 11,000 registered enterprises.

Outward Investment

Although its policies overwhelmingly target inward investment, the Cameroonian government promotes external partnerships and joint ventures as well.
The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad, though recent restrictions on moving foreign exchange outside of CEMAC function as a de facto limit on Cameroonians investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are recognized by law, but Cameroon’s weak judiciary makes enforcement sporadic.  For mortgage transactions between two private parties, a proper contract is required for the agreement to be binding and enforceable in the courts.  Liens have to be recorded in the contract.  A registry of land title exists in Cameroon.  The land rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, and farmers are recognized in the constitution.  Property rights are enforced or not according to the relative economic and/or political power of those involved.

Existing legislation does not discriminate against foreign landowners.

Records from the Ministry of State Property and Land Tenure (French acronym “MINDAF”) indicate that land registration rates have not significantly increased since colonial times.  Between 1884 and 2005, only 125,000 title deeds were issued.  On average, this represents approximately 1,000 titles per year, covering less than 2 percent of the land in Cameroon.  In 2009, a study by the African Development Bank (AfDB) identified other distinctive patterns in land ownership.  For example, formal land registration is more common in urban (60 percent) than in rural areas.  There have been token efforts to identify property owners, but unregistered land remains common.

Land disputes are common between Cameroonian citizens.  The disputes are generally caused by non-respect of commercial sales contracts or by informal sales of land.  Illegal occupations of lands are also common.  Globally, Cameroon stands at 177 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of registering property.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

The legal structure for intellectual property rights (IPR) and corresponding enforcement mechanisms are weak.  Infringement on IPR is especially common in the media, pharmaceutical, software, and print industries.  Theft is common.

There were no new IPR related laws or regulations enacted during the previous year.  The Embassy is not aware of any pending reform bills.

The government seizes and publicly burns counterfeit goods, but these actions are not documented systematically and no cumulative data exists on the seizures.  The Embassy is unaware of any prosecutions related to IPR violations.

Cameroon is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .


Executive Summary

Chad is one of Africa’s largest countries, with a land area of 1,284,000 square kilometers that encompasses three agro-climatic zones.  Chad is a landlocked country bordering Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, Central African Republic (CAR) to the south, and Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria on the west (with which it shares Lake Chad).  The nearest port, Douala, Cameroon, is 1,700 km from the capital, N’Djamena. Chad is one of six countries that constitute the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), a common market.

Chad’s human development is one of the lowest in the world according to the UN Human Development Index (HDI), and poverty continues to afflict a large proportion of the population.  Since oil production began in 2003, the petroleum sector has dominated economic activity and has been the largest target of foreign investment. However, agriculture and livestock breeding are important economic activities that employ the majority of the population, and the government has prioritized these sectors in an effort to diversify the economy and to maximize non-petroleum tax receipts in the wake of the drop in global oil prices.

The Government of Chad (GOC) has focused on improving internal economic and social conditions, although its efforts have been constrained by regional instability arising from the continued terrorist threat, an influx of refugees along the Chad-Sudan-Central African Republic (CAR) border, and low oil revenues (which account for over 70 percent of government revenue) due to the fall in global oil prices.

According to the IMF, after three consecutive years of contraction, non-oil economic activity has stabilized and pressures on the government fiscal position have eased. Nonetheless, the social, economic, and financial situation remains fragile. While oil production rebounded strongly in 2018, growth in the non-oil sector was estimated at only 0.5 percent. Economic recovery continues to be held back by the domestic debt overhang and underlying structural fragilities. Average inflation picked up to 4 percent in 2018, pulled largely by a 90 percent increase in the administered price of fresh water in May 2018. 

The GOC is favorably disposed to foreign investment, with a particular goal of attracting North American companies.  There are opportunities for foreign investment in Agribusiness; Agricultural, Construction, Building & Heavy Equipment; Architecture & Engineering; Automotive & Ground Transportation; Education; Energy & Mining; Environmental Technologies; Food Processing & Packaging; Health Technologies; Industrial Equipment & Supplies; Information & Communication; and Services.

Chad’s business and investment climate remains challenging.  Private sector development is hindered by poor transport infrastructure, lack of skilled labor, unreliable energy, weak contract enforcement, corruption, and high tax burdens on private enterprises. 

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 165 of 175 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 181 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $640 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The GOC’s policies towards foreign direct investment (FDI) are generally positive.  There are few formal restrictions on foreign trade and investment. 

Chad’s laws and regulations encourage FDI.  The National Investment Charter of 2008, a set of guidelines promulgated by the National Agency for Investment and Exports (ANIE, Agence Nationale des Investissements et des Exports), an agency of the Ministry of Industrial and Commercial Development & Private Sector Promotion, offers incentives to foreign companies establishing operations in Chad, including up to five years of tax-exempt status.  Under Chadian law, foreign and domestic entities may establish and own business enterprises. The National Investment Charter permits full foreign ownership of companies in Chad. The only limit on foreign control is on ownership of companies deemed related to national security.  The National Investment Charter guarantees both foreign companies and individuals equal standing with Chadian companies and individuals in the privatization process. In principle, tenders for foreign investment in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and for government contracts are conducted through open international bid procedures.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no limits on foreign ownership or control.  There are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access for U.S. or other foreign investors, and no de facto anti-foreign discriminatory practices.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last published a trade policy review for Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Central African Republic in July 2013. 

Neither the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nor the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published any investment policy reviews (IPR) of Chad.

Business Facilitation

Foreign businesses interested in investing in or establishing an office in Chad should contact ANIE, which offers a one-stop shop for filing the legal forms needed to start a business.  The process officially takes 72 hours and is the only legal requirement for investment. ANIE’s website (  ) provides additional information.  Online business registration is not yet available via the Global Enterprise Registration web site (  ) or the Business Facilitation Program (  ). 

In 2018, the World Bank ranked Chad 180 out of 190 countries for ease of starting a business, which included factors beyond the registration, to include permitting, access to resources like space and energy, and access to capital.

Contracts are tailored to each investment and often include additional incentives and concessions, such as permissions to import labor or agreements to work with specific local suppliers.  Some contracts are confidential. Occasionally, government ministries attempt to change the terms of contracts or apply new laws broadly, even to companies that have pre-existing agreements that exempt them.  Chad’s judicial system is weak, and rulings, including those relating to contract disputes, are susceptible to government interference. There is limited capacity within the judiciary to address commercial issues, including contract disputes.  Parties usually settle disputes directly or through arbitration provided by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, Mining, and Crafts (CCIAMA) or through an outside entity, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris. 

Outward Investment

The GOC does not offer any programs or incentives encouraging outward investment, although there are no restrictions on domestic investors who might have the means and the interest in investing abroad.

The GOC does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Chadian Civil Code protects real property rights.  Since 2013, landowners may register land titles with the One-Stop Land Titling Office (Guichet Unique pour les Affaires Foncieres).  However, enforcement of these rights is difficult because a majority of land owners do not have a title or a deed for their property.

The office of Domain and Registration (Direction de Domaine et Enregistrement) in the Ministry of Finance and Budget is responsible for recording property deeds and mortgages.  In practice, this office asserts authority only in urban areas; rural property titles are managed by traditional leaders who apply customary law.  Chadian courts frequently deal with cases of multiple or conflicting titles to the same property. In cases of multiple titles, the earliest title issued usually has precedence.  Fraud is common in property transactions. By law, all land for which no title exists is owned by the government, and can only be given to a separate entity by Presidential decree.  There have been incidents in which the government has reclaimed land for which individuals held titles, which government officials granted to other individuals without the backing of Presidential decrees. 

The GOC does not provide clear definitions and protections of traditional use rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, or farmers.

The World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report ranks Chad 159of 190 in ease of registering property.  The report cites the high cost of property valuation plus other associated costs for registering property as the major impediment.  Time required and number of procedures are on par with the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Intellectual Property Rights

Chad is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  Chad ratified the revised Bangui Agreement (1999) in 2000 and the Berne Convention in 1971. The GOC adheres to OAPI rules within the constraints of its administrative capacity.

Within the Ministry responsible for trade, the Department of Industrial Property and Technology addresses intellectual property rights (IPR) issues.  This department is the National Liaison Unit (SNL) within the OAPI, and is the designated point of contact under Article 69 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). 

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and artistic works, including music and videos, are common in Chad.  Counterfeit watches, sports clothing, footwear, jeans, cosmetics, perfumes, and other goods are also readily available on the Chadian market.  These products are not produced locally, and are generally imported through informal channels. Despite limited resources, Chadian customs officials make occasional efforts to enforce copyright laws, normally by seizing and burning counterfeit medicines, CDs, and mobile phones.

Chad does not regularly track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods.  Occasionally, Chadian authorities will announce such a seizure in the local press.  Customs officers have the authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods ex officio.  The Government pays for storage and destruction of such goods.

Chad is not listed on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.  For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Executive Summary

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa and potentially one of the richest in the world in terms of natural resources.  With 80 million hectares (197 million acres) of arable land and 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the resources to achieve prosperity for its people.  Despite its potential, the DRC often cannot provide adequate security, infrastructure and health care to its estimated 81 million inhabitants, of which 75 percent live on less than two dollars a day.

The country possesses untapped resources that attract investors and could make it a giant in the African and global economies, but it occupies the 184th place (of 190) in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report.

Overall, businesses in the DRC face numerous challenges, including fragility of functional infrastructure and alleged corruption at all levels of government.  Though, the election of President Felix Tshilombo Tshisekedi has raised the hopes of the business community in the DRC, and there is optimism that this change in leadership heralds the beginning of a new era of transparency in the country.

Armed groups remain active in the eastern part of the country making for a fragile security situation that negatively affects the business environment.  A long cycle of delayed elections finally ended in December 2018, with the arrival in power of the new President Felix Tshilombo Tshisekedi, reducing long-standing political tensions.

Poor governance, corruption and a deficit of transport, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure continue to make the business climate difficult.  The infrastructure deficit is the main challenge as it hinders intra- and international trade.  The poor quality of DRC’s infrastructure leads to import and export costs that are reported to be among the highest in Africa.

Despite some reforms implemented by the government, investors continue to complain about corruption and the lack of reform in the mining and subcontracting sectors.

ANAPI (Agence de promotion des investissements au Congo) strives to coordinate the actions of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (GDRC) in an attempt to simplify administrative formalities and procedures, but its influence in the administrative sphere is still limited.  In 2018 business remained sluggish, with only the extractives sector exhibiting significant growth.

GDP growth in 2018 was 4.1 percent (compared to 3.7 percent in 2017), while the average rate of inflation was 27 percent (compared to 54 percent in 2017).  Despite this, the year-on-year increase in consumer prices dipped to approximately 7 percent by the 4th quarter of 2018.  The CDF stabilized against the USD, losing only 2.7 percent of its value in 2018 (compared to a depreciation rate of 23 percent in 2017).  In 2018, the financing of the elections was supported by USD 500 million in public funds, roughly 9 percent of the 2018 state budget.

According to the Governor of the Central Bank, the main challenge remains the insufficient mobilization of public revenues, which is estimated by various sources to be between 7 and 10 % of GDP, as compared to an average of 20% in sub-Saharan Africa.

The primary minerals sector is the country’s main source of revenue. Copper, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamond, tin and tungsten, along with oil from offshore fields, provide over 95 percent of the DRC’s export revenue.

The agricultural sector and the forestry sector present opportunities for economic diversification in the DRC.  Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, as it employs approximately 60% of Congolese.  The National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), currently being finalized, plans to use agricultural transformation to advance the DRC into a middle-income country by 2022, including through the establishment of agro-industrial parks in the country’s various regions, which will take into account the interests of small producers.  The industrialization of the forest-based sector would strengthen diversification efforts.

According to foreign investors, inadequate infrastructure and allegedly predatory taxation have greatly diminished the secondary sector.  Several breweries and bottlers, a number of large construction firms, and limited textiles production are still active.

The tertiary sector includes retail and wholesale sales, banking, transport and communication components.  Micro commerce dominates the retail sector; the banking sector is small in terms of capitalization, but diverse in terms of ownership; the highly competitive telecommunications industry is expanding into electronic banking.

The banking sector configuration in 2018 remains unchanged from the previous year.  There are currently 17 operational banks in the Congolese banking industry. This includes BIAC, which is in serious difficulty and will likely be dissolved and another, Byblos Bank RDC, which became Solidaire Banque following the withdrawal of its majority shareholder and has remained practically inactive.  The bank penetration rate is well below the sub-Saharan African average of 25%.  The nation’s economy is highly dollarized, which weakens monetary policy execution, financial development and systemic stability.

The DRC is finally opening up its insurance sector after years of hesitancy and delay. The new regulator ARCA (Autorité de Régulation et de Contrôle des Assurances), approved four new insurance companies and two insurance brokers on March 28th, 2019.  The insurance sector will hopefully stimulate the economy, by mitigating risk and financing economic development projects.

Reform of a non-transparent and often corrupt legal system is also a prerequisite for investors to benefit more fully from the DRC’s membership in the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Laws in Africa (OHADA).

The Embassy invites all prospective investors to visit to read the latest country-specific information and travel warnings before traveling to the DRC.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 161 of 180
World Bank Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 184 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2017 N/A of 126
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $76
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $460


1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

The DRC remains a challenging environment in which to conduct business.  At the same time, the GDRC sporadically takes steps to improve economic governance and its business climate, while the DRC’s rich endowment of natural resources, large population and generally open trading system provide significant potential opportunities for U.S. investors.  The GDRC’s investment agency, the National Agency for Investment Promotion (ANAPI), provides investment facilitation services for initial investments over USD 200,000 and is mandated to simplify the investment process, make procedures more transparent, assist new foreign investors and improve the image of the DRC as an investment destination.  Current investment regulations prohibit foreign investors from engaging in informal small retail commerce, referred to locally as petit commerce, and ban foreign majority-ownership of agricultural concerns. Visas for foreign workers are limited to six consecutive months and cost between USD 300 (single entry) and USD 400 (multiple-entry).

Following approval of an initial “temporary” work visa, which, normally, is not difficult to procure, a foreign worker may qualify for a more expensive “establishment visa” with at least a one year validity.  Salaries paid to expatriates are taxed at a higher rate than those of locals to encourage local employment.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The DRC Constitution stipulates entitlement to own and establish a business enterprise, and to engage in all forms of remunerative activity, noting minimal restrictions related to small commerce and a prohibition of foreign shareholder ownership of more than 49 percent of an agribusiness.  The government has drafted foreign ownership legislation, but parliamentary debate is still pending. Although it may not be based in law, many investors note that in practice the GDRC requires foreign investors to both hire local agents and participate in a joint venture with the government or local partners.

A new law on subcontracting in the private sector, which was enacted in January 2017, restricts foreign investors’ participation in subcontracting in almost all sectors and is considered discriminatory to the interests of some U.S. companies operating in DRC.  The law restricts subcontracting activity to majority Congolese-owned and capitalized-companies whose head offices are located in the national territory.  The only exception is in the case of unavailability of expertise in a specific subcontracting area. In that case, proof of lack of expertise must be provided to the competent authority to enable a non-Congolese company to be used as a subcontractor, but the activity may not exceed six months.

The law also forbids the subcontracting of more than 40 percent of the overall value of a contract; voids clauses, stipulations and contractual arrangements that violate the provisions of this law; and carries penalties of up to USD 150,000 and the risk of closure of operations for six months if certain provisions are violated.  As of April 2017, the Federations of Enterprises of the Congo (FEC), the American Chamber of Commerce DRC, and other business organizations were lobbying to review and revise the law.  Foreign businesses had a 12-month grace period, which ended in January 2018, to comply with the new law, but as noted below, the law is not yet being enforced.

On April 16th, 2018, the Congolese government adopted the draft decree on the “creation, organization and functioning of the Authority to Regulate Subcontracting in the Private Sector” (ARSP).  On December 27th, 2018 former President Kabila and Prime Minister Tshibala signed an order to appoint the Authority’s general management and the board of directors, which would implement the law.  The Director General of the ARSP announced in May 2019 that the Authority would begin operations shortly.

On March 9, 2018, the government promulgated a new mining code which increased royalty rates by two to ten percent, raised tax rates on “strategic” metals, and imposed a surcharge on “super profits” of mining companies.  Of particular concern to mining companies, the government unilaterally removed a stability clause contained in the mining code of 2002.  The stability clause protects investors from any new fees or taxes for ten years.  With no coherent and transparent legal and fiscal framework to alleviate investors’ concerns, the stability clause offered a significant inducement to major mining companies.  Removal of the stability clause may deter future investment in the mining sector.  Since August 27th, 2018, the day of the last meeting between the government and investors, the situation has not progressed.  Also in August, the DRC’s major industrial mining companies, responsible for 80 percent of copper and cobalt production and 90 percent of gold production, formed a new industry body, the Initiative for the Promotion of the Mining Industry (IPM), to engage the GDRC more effectively on the new mining code.  IPM is awaiting appointment of the new government to resume discussions.  The Tshisekedi government has indicated that it is willing to reopen discussions on the new mining code, but given its minority status in the National Assembly, it may not be able to implement changes that require legislative approval.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The DRC has not undergone an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Investment Policy Review in the last 10 years, but the GDRC has made significant progress to improve its customs clearance procedures. Cities with high custom clearance traffic use Sydonia, which is an advanced software system for custom administrations in compliance with ASYCUDA.  (ASYCUDA is a large technical assistance software program recommended by UNCTAD for custom clearance management.)

Business Facilitation

Since 2013, the GDRC has operated a “one-stop shop” ( that brings together all the government entities involved in the registration of a company in the DRC.  The registration process now officially takes three days, but in practice it can take much longer.  Yet, some businesses have reported that the Guichet Unique has considerably shortened and simplified the overall process of business registration.

Outward Investment

The GDRC does not prohibit outward investment, nor does it particularly promote it.  There are no current government restrictions preventing domestic investors from investing abroad, and there are no current blacklisted countries with which domestic investors are precluded from doing business.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The DRC’s Constitution (Chapter 2, Articles 34-40) protects private property ownership without discriminating between foreign and domestic investors.  Despite this provision, the GDRC has acknowledged the lack of enforcement in the protection of property rights.  Relevant draft bills have been pending before Parliament since 2015. Congolese law related to real property rights enumerates provisions for mortgages and liens, and real property (buildings and land) is protected and registered through the Ministry of Land’s Office of the Mortgage Registrar.  Nevertheless, land registration may not fully protect property owners, as records can be incomplete and legal disputes over land deals are common.  In addition, there is no specific regulation of real property lease or acquisition.

Ownership interest in personal property (e.g. equipment, vehicles, etc.) is protected and registered through the Ministry of the Interior’s Office of the Notary.

Intellectual Property Rights

In principle, intellectual property rights (IPR) are legally protected in the DRC, but enforcement of IPR regulations is limited.  Prior to independence in 1960, IPR was regulated by multiple Belgian instruments.  In 1963, the DRC became a party to the Berne Convention of 1886 for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and in 1975 it joined the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.  The DRC introduced Law No. 82-001 on Industrial Property in 1982, and Law No. 86-022 on the Protection of Copyright and Neighboring Rights in 1986.  Both instruments remain in force, but legislative action in the area of IPR and enforcement of the existing laws has been virtually non-existent since their passage.

The country is also a signatory to a number of relevant agreements with international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is thus ostensibly subject to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the WTO which sets down minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of many forms of IPR.  Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights covering content producers, including performers; producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations; geographical indications, including appellations of origin; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade dress; and undisclosed or confidential information.  TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures.  As a least-developed country member, DRC was given a longer transition period, through 2006, to comply with TRIPS, but it continues to be out of compliance with its international IPR obligations.

The pertinent conventions provide maximum protection of 20 years for patents, and 20 years, renewable, for trademarks, starting from the date of registration.  If not used within three years, a trademark can be cancelled. By contrast, the current Congolese laws provide only 15 years of protection on a number of patents, and do not include all the means mentioned in TRIPS for enforcement of IPR rights.  In July 2011, the Ministry of Culture and Art established the Société des Droits d’Auteur et des Droits Voisins (SOCODA) to address IPR issues faced by authors, and presented a bill to the government that seeks to rectify shortcomings of the existing 1982 IPR law.  Still, the reform bill is pending Parliamentary approval and it is unclear when that will be forthcoming.

Cote d’Ivoire

Executive Summary

Cote d’Ivoire offers a fertile environment for U.S. investment, and the Ivoirian Government is keen to deepen its economic cooperation with the United States.  The 2018 investment code is considered generous with incentives and few foreign investor restrictions. The most fruitful areas of investment for U.S. businesses are in oil and gas exploration and production; agriculture and value-added agribusiness processing; power generation and renewable energy; IT services; and infrastructure.  In 2018, Cote d’Ivoire improved in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking of 190 countries, moving from 139 to 122. Improvements in the business environment include the establishment of a one-stop shop for registering businesses, the implementation of a single tax user identification number for business creation, and the creation of an online tax payment for businesses.

Following a credible and peaceful election in 2015 in which President Ouattara was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term, a new constitution was adopted in 2016 and a Senate established in April 2018.  Legislative and municipal elections in 2018 were marred by fraud and violence in certain locations, possibly setting the stage for a turbulent political situation in the lead up to the 2020 presidential elections.  The power struggle is dividing the country’s leaders and is deepening the rift between political parties, causing concerns for political transition in 2020.  Labor tensions led to a crippling teachers’ strike in 2019 during which many schools closed for nearly two months. Mutinies among disaffected military members in January and May 2017 briefly brought the country’s economy to a standstill and renewed worries about political stability, although the mutineers did not target foreigners and foreign interests.  To resolve the crisis, the government acceded to most of the mutinous soldiers’ demands for bonuses and back pay and promised to refocus its efforts to reform the military. Despite these promises, security sector reform remains incomplete, primarily due to a lack of government will. The government has also failed to make real progress on national reconciliation and transitional justice, undermining the full consolidation of democratic gains.  Cote d’Ivoire suffered its first terrorist attack in March 2016 on the beaches of Grand Bassam, for which al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility. Ivoirian security forces responded quickly, demonstrating that the capacity of the country’s special operations units has improved over the past few years.

Economically, Cote d’Ivoire is Africa’s second fastest growing economy and since 2012 has experienced rapid progress in all sectors.  The largest economy in francophone Africa, Cote d’Ivoire’s growth attracts migrants and a significant expatriate community.  The IMF expects GDP growth to continue at 7 percent in 2019, led by growth in the industrial and service sectors.

Despite improvements, doing business with the government remains a significant challenge.  The government has awarded a number of sole source contracts without competition and at times disregarded objective evaluations on competitive tenders.  An overly complicated tax system and the slowness and lack of transparency in government decision-making hinders investment. In August 2017, the Appeal Court of the Commercial Court of Abidjan was created, and other commercial jurisdictions will be progressively established throughout the country.

Legally, women do not face restrictions on investment development, but have historically faced discrimination and a lack of access to credit that has hindered their extent of business ownership.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 105 of 175 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 122 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 123 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $ – 146 
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $ 1,580 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The government actively encourages Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is committed to doubling foreign investment over the next several years.  Foreign companies are free to invest and list on the regional stock exchange Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM), which is based in Abidjan and covers the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).  WAEMU members are part of the Regional Council for Savings and Investment, a regional securities regulatory body.

In most sectors, there are no laws that limit foreign investment.  There are restrictions on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies.  Although there are regulations designed to control land speculation in urban areas, foreigners own significant amounts of land.  Freehold land tenure in rural areas is difficult to negotiate and inhibits outside investment. Land tenure disputes exist all over the country owing to the lack of formal private land ownership in most areas.  Most businesses, including agribusinesses and forestry companies, circumvent this by acquiring long-term leases. Companies that wish to purchase

land must have the property surveyed before obtaining title.  Surveying is tightly controlled by a small oligopoly of companies, and can often cost more than the value of the parcel of land.

Cote d’Ivoire’s investment promotion agency, the Centre for the Promotion of Investment in Cote d’Ivoire (CEPICI), facilitates foreign investment, and its services are available to all investors.  CEPICI provides its services through a one-stop shop to facilitate business creation, operation, and expansion; requests incentives in the investment code and for access to industrial land; and promotes and attracts national and foreign investments.  More information is available at  .

Cote d’Ivoire maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors through various business networks and platforms, such as CEPICI, the Ivoirian Chamber of Commerce (CCI-CI), the association of large enterprises (CGECI), and the bankers’ association.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors generally have access to all forms of remunerative activity on terms equal to those enjoyed by Ivoirians.  The government encourages foreign investment, including in the privatization of state-owned and public firms, although in most cases the state reserves an equity stake in the new company.

There are no significant limits on foreign investment, nor are there legal differences in the treatment of foreign and national investors, either in terms of the level of foreign ownership or sector of investment.  There are no laws specifically authorizing private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association that limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control, and no such practices have been reported.

Banks and insurance companies are subject to licensing requirements, but there are no restrictions designed to limit foreign ownership or to establish subsidiaries of foreign companies in this sector.  Investments in health, law and accounting, and travel agencies are subject to prior approval and require appropriate licenses and association with an Ivoirian partner. The Ivoirian government has, on a case-by-case basis, mandated using local providers, hiring local employees, or arranging for eventual transfer to local control.

The government does not have an official policy to screen investments and its overall economic and industrial strategy does not discriminate against foreign-owned firms.  There are indications in some instances of preferential treatment for firms from countries with longstanding commercial ties to Cote d’Ivoire.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Cote d’Ivoire has not conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the OECD.

A Trade Policy Review was last done by the WTO in July 2012 and can be found at  

UNCTAD does not provide an IPR report for Cote d’Ivoire, though there are statistics on FDI in the country profile at Profile/GeneralProfile/en-GB/384/index.html  .

The government of Cote d’Ivoire provides information about sector policies and business opportunities in various reports.  More information can be found at:   or at:  .

Business Facilitation

The government has engaged in business facilitation efforts through a series of reforms using the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index as a reference to improve the business environment.  These reform efforts include the acceleration of business creation to 24 hours, the issuing of a construction permit in 26 days, the establishment of a one-stop shop for external trade, and the establishment of a single tax declaration form.  In 2018, Cote d’Ivoire improved its Doing Business ranking from 139th to 122nd place.

Cote d’Ivoire’s online information portal containing all documents dedicated to business creation and registration (  ) is managed by CEPICI.  All the necessary documentation for registration is available online.  The one-stop shop for business registration takes between 24-48 hours and has all the agencies under a single roof, allowing for a more simplified approach to business creation.  Businesses have noted the one-stop shop has been very successful in speeding up registration.

The registration process is generally equitable toward women and underrepresented nationalities, and there have not been any reports of discrimination.

Outward Investment

Cote d’Ivoire does not promote or incentivize outward overseas investment.  The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Ivoirian civil code provides for the enforcement of private property rights, and the government has undertaken reform efforts to secure property rights.  Mortgages and liens exist. Secured interests in property are enforced by the Land Registry Office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. In the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Cote d’Ivoire is ranked 112 out of 190 countries for registering property.

Foreign and/or nonresident investors who wish to lease land must obtain a permit for the development of the site, as well as a bylaw from the prefecture or sub-prefecture for the occupation of the site.

In Cote d’Ivoire, 96 percent of land does not have a clear title.  The government has committed to titling all private land within 10 years.  The government has made efforts to raise awareness on land titling throughout the country and to streamline procedures for obtaining land titles.  In 2018, the World Bank approved a program to build the capacity and institutions to support the implementation of the national rural land tenure security program, and register customary land rights in selected rural areas.  All land that is to be titled must be professionally surveyed. The surveying, which must be performed by one of the few companies allowed to execute land surveys in Cote d’Ivoire, can cost more than the value of the land. The status of the land from which thousands of refugees moved during the 2011 post-election conflict has not been resolved.  Much of that land is now occupied by squatters, many of whom are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from neighboring countries to the north of Cote d’Ivoire, particularly from Burkina Faso. A lack of titles and a conflict between modern land-tenure law and common practice hinders resolution of the land tenure issue.

If legally purchased property is unoccupied, ownership cannot be reverted to other owners (such as squatters).

Intellectual Property Rights

The Ivoirian Civil Code protects intellectual property rights (IPR).  The government’s Office of Industrial Property is charged with ensuring the protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and commercial names.  Patents are valid for ten years, with the possibility of two five-year extensions. Trademarks are valid for ten years and are renewable indefinitely. Copyrights are valid for 50 years.  The Ivoirian Copyright Office has a labeling system in place to prevent counterfeiting and protect audio, video, literary, and artistic property rights in music and computer programs. In general, the protection of IPR in Cote d’Ivoire is weak and the government has limited resources for IPR protection.  While Ivoirian IPR law is in conformity with standards established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), enforcement is weak due to a lack of custom checks at the country’s porous borders, limiting the law’s impact.

No IPR related laws or regulations have been enacted in the past year.

Legally the government must protect intellectual property on both exported and imported goods.  Customs has the power to seize products imported with equipment installed, detained, marketed, or illegally supplied.  Such seizures, generally of counterfeit consumer goods, are routinely publicized on government websites and media outlets, although statistics on seizures are unavailable.  The intellectual property office’s police unit has sometimes held raids against retail outlets and street vendors to confiscate pirated CDs and DVDs, and they have instituted legal proceedings against counterfeiters.  IPR violations are prosecuted and sanctions vary from three months to two years of imprisonment and fines from USD 163 to USD 8,000.

Cote d’Ivoire is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report.

Cote d’Ivoire is not listed in the USTR’s Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .


Executive Summary

Eswatini is a landlocked kingdom in Southern Africa. Although the official government policy is to encourage foreign investment as a means to drive economic growth, the pace of reforming investment policies is slow. Following a September 2018 general election, a new Prime Minister and cabinet (including several former CEOs and others with significant private sector experience) took office and assumed the task of turning around Eswatini’s economy. The Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) advocates for foreign investors and facilitates regulatory approval, but lacks clout and has failed to attract any significant companies in the last five years.  Recent positive developments include the country’s January 2018 reinstatement under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the enactment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act and updated intellectual property legislation.

The Swati government has prioritized the energy sector, particularly renewable energy, and developed a Grid Code and Renewable Energy and Independent Power Producer (RE&IPP) Policy to create a transparent regulatory regime and attract investment. Eswatini generally imports 80 percent of its power from South Africa and Mozambique. With both South Africa and Mozambique experiencing electricity shortages, Eswatini is working to increase its own energy generation using renewable sources. To that end, the country has two new photovoltaic projects scheduled to come on line within the next year. Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) is also an emerging sector, which Eswatini has tried to support through initiatives such as e-governance and the Royal Science and Technology Park. The digital migration program of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) presents ICT opportunities in the country.

Incentives to invest in Eswatini include repatriation of profits, fully serviced industrial sites, purpose-built factory shells at competitive rates, and duty exemptions on raw materials for manufacture of goods to be exported outside the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Financial incentives for all investors include tax allowances and deductions for new enterprises, including a 10-year exemption from withholding tax on dividends and a low corporate tax rate of 10 percent for approved investment projects. New investors also enjoy duty-free import of machinery and equipment. SEZ investors may benefit from a 20-year exemption from all corporate taxation (followed by taxation at 5 percent); full refunds of customs duties, value-added tax, and other taxes payable on goods purchased for use as raw material, equipment, machinery, and manufacturing; unrestricted repatriation of profits; and full exemption from foreign exchange controls for all operations conducted within the SEZ.

Royal family involvement in the mining sector has discouraged potential investors in that sector. Eswatini’s land tenure system, where the majority of rural land is “held in trust for the Swati nation,” has discouraged long-term investment in commercial real estate and agriculture.

Eswatini’s poor human rights and labor rights record previously jeopardized its access to export markets and donor support. Recent reforms such as the enactment of the new Public Order Act and Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act have meaningfully improved the country’s legal framework. After requalifying as an AGOA beneficiary in January 2018, Eswatini turned its attention to trying to qualify for Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) support. To advance these efforts, the country has launched an effort to improve its relatively poor rankings on MCC indicators such as political rights, civil liberties, and business start-up.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 89 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 117 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2015 123 of 141
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $2,950

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini (GKoE) regards foreign direct investment (FDI) as one of the five pillars of its Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth (SDIG) Program, and a means to drive the country’s economic growth, obtain access to foreign markets for its exports, and improve international competitiveness. While the government has strongly encouraged foreign investment over the past 15 years, it has not been very effective in implementing that policy. The government has largely adopted a laissez faire approach, hoping that the country’s location and resources will attract FDI on their own. Eswatini does not have a unified policy on investment. Instead, individual ministries have their own investment facilitation policies, which include policies on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), agriculture, energy, transportation, mining, education, and telecommunications. Calls for more concerted action on these policies have intensified in the last few years as Eswatini has suffered from drought, fiscal challenges, and general economic recession.

The Swati constitution states, generally, that non-citizens and/or companies with a majority of non-citizen shareholders may not own land unless they were vested in their ownership rights before the constitution entered into force in 2006. On the other hand, the constitution’s general prohibition “may not be used to undermine or frustrate an existing or new legitimate business undertaking of which land is a significant factor or base.” Furthermore, non-citizens and non-citizen majority-owned companies may hold long-term (up to 99 years) leases on Title and Swati Nation Land. Besides land ownership laws, there are no laws that discriminate against foreign investors.

In practice, most successful foreign investors associate local partners to navigate Eswatini’s complex bureaucracy. In addition, the majority of the land is Swati Nation Land held by the king “in trust for the Swati Nation” and cannot be purchased by foreign investors. Foreign investors that require significant land for their enterprise must engage the Land Management Board to negotiate long-term leases.

The Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) is the state-owned enterprise (SOE) charged with designing and implementing strategies for attracting desired foreign investors.

Eswatini’s Investment Policy ( and Industrial Policy ( percent202015_2022_Swaziland_FINAL_AND_ADOPTED.pdf ) are available online. EIPA is currently functional and helpful, but it is not yet a one-stop-shop for foreign investors. EIPA services include:

  • Attract and promote local and foreign direct investments
  • Identify and disseminate trade and investment opportunities
  • Provide investor facilitation and aftercare services
  • Promote internal and external trade
  • Undertake research and policy analysis
  • Facilitate company registration and business licenses/permits
  • Facilitate work permits and visas for investors
  • Provide a one stop shop information and support facility for businesses
  • Export product development
  • Facilitation of participation in external trade fairs
  • Buyer-Seller Missions

The GKoE continues its attempts to improve the ease of doing business in the country through the Investor Roadmap Unit (IRU). The IRU engages with businesses and government to review and report on the progress and implementation of the investor roadmap reforms.

EIPA has an aftercare division for purposes of investment retention, which is a direct avenue for investors to communicate concerns they may have. Most investors who stay beyond the initial period during which the GKoE offers investment incentives have opted to remain long-term.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Both foreign and domestic private entities have a right to establish businesses and acquire and dispose of interest in business enterprises. Foreign investors own several of Eswatini’s largest private businesses, either fully or with minority participation by Swati institutions.

There are no general limits on foreign ownership and control of companies, which can be 100 percent foreign owned and controlled. The only exceptions on foreign ownership and control are in the mining sector and in relation to land ownership. The Mines and Minerals Act of 2011 requires that the King (in trust for the Swati Nation) be granted a 25-percent equity stake in all mining ventures, with another 25 percent equity stake granted to the GKoE. There are also sector-specific trade exclusions that prohibit foreign control, which include business dealings in firearms, radioactive material, explosives, hazardous waste, and security printing.

Foreign investments are screened only through standard background and credit checks. Under the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011, investors must submit certain documents including proof of residence and source of income for deposits. EIPA also conducts general screening of FDI monies through credit bureau checks and Interpol. This screening is not a barrier to investing in Eswatini. There are no discriminatory mechanisms applied against US foreign direct investors.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In 2015, the WTO performed a Trade Policy Review of the Southern African Customs Union, which included Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa, and Lesotho (  ). Eswatini’s portion of that review is available online: .

Business Facilitation

Eswatini does not have a single overarching business facilitation policy. Policies that address business facilitation are spread across the spectrum of relevant ministries. The IRU is the public entity responsible for the review and monitoring of business environment reforms. EIPA facilitates foreign and domestic investment opportunities and has a fairly modern, up-to-date website:  . Certain GKoE application forms are available online at the EIPA website. Recent developments in the business facilitation space include the online registration of companies via the link  . However, some of the steps (payment of statutory fees, such as the reservation of name and registration fee, and Eswatini Revenue Authority tax clearance) still must be completed offline. According to the Doing Business Report, the process of registering a company in Eswatini takes approximately 10 days. In practice, the process can take much longer for foreign investors.

The main organization representing the private sector is Business Eswatini, which represents more than 80 percent of large businesses in Eswatini, works on a wide range of issues of interest to the private sector, and seeks to build partnerships with the government to promote commercial development. Through Business Eswatini, the private sector is represented in a number of national working committees, including the National Trade Negotiations Team (NTNT).

Outward Investment

The government does not specifically promote or incentivize outward investment, which remains a relatively new phenomenon for Eswatini.

The GKoE generally does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. The only two exceptions apply to the Public Service Pension Fund and the Eswatini National Provident Fund, which are state-owned enterprises (SOEs) required by law to invest a minimum of 50 percent of their balance sheets in the domestic economy.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

There are two major categories of land tenure: Swati Nation Land (SNL) and Title Deed Land (TDL), each subject to different rules and procedures. More than 60 percent of Eswatini’s territory is SNL, governed by the country’s traditional structures. SNL is “held in trust for the Swati people” by the King, who appoints chiefs to oversee its use. The chiefs keep records of who “owns” or resides on land in their chiefdom. For TDL, the Eswatini government recognizes and enforces secured interest in property and there is a reliable system of recording security interests. The Constitution protects the right to own property, but most rural land is SNL and is not covered by this constitutional protection. Most urban property, on the other hand, is TDL. The law allows for eminent domain in limited circumstances, but requires prompt payment of adequate compensation.

In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, Eswatini ranks 107 out of 190 economies for ease of registering property. This ranking refers to property in periurban areas, where TDL is widely available. SNL is not titled, and lending institutions are reluctant to use it as collateral. Though foreign or non-resident individuals generally may not own land (with some exceptions), foreign-owned businesses are able to own or lease land. Legally purchased property cannot revert to other owners (must be “willing buyer, willing seller”).

Intellectual Property Rights

Protection for patents, trademarks, and copyrights is currently inadequate under Swati law. Patents are currently protected under a 1936 act that automatically extends patent protection, upon proper application, to products that have been patented in either South Africa or Great Britain. Trademark protection is addressed in the Trademarks Act of 1981. Copyright protections are addressed under four statutes, dated 1912, 1918, 1933, and 1936.

Laws enacted in 2018 have updated Eswatini’s intellectual property legal framework.  The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act of 2014 (replacing the Copyright Act of 1912) protects literary, musical, artistic, audio-visual, sound recordings, broadcasts, and published editions. It also criminalizes the illicit recording and false representation of someone else’s work. The Swaziland Intellectual Property Tribunal Act of 2015 establishes an Intellectual Property Tribunal, which will be responsible for hearing all matters and disputes involving intellectual property in Eswatini.

The Trademarks (Amendment) Act of 2015 brings the (1981) Trademarks Act into compliance with provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Madrid Agreement concerning International Registration of Marks, and the Banjul Protocol on Trademarks.

Eswatini does not track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods.

Eswatini is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Notorious Markets List or the Special 301 Report.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  


Executive Summary

Over the last year, Ethiopia has undertaken unprecedented economic and political reforms.  The new Ethiopian government, led by Prime Minister (PM) Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in on April 2, 2018, announced at the outset its plan to democratize the country, reform the economy, and increase private sector participation.  Early in his tenure, PM Abiy addressed some of the public’s numerous longstanding grievances, including: ending the State of Emergency imposed by the government prior to his ascension; closing a notorious detention center; releasing thousands of detained individuals; restoring mobile internet throughout the country; retiring members of the political “old guard,” who were perceived as in the way of reform; and, reframing the government’s posture towards opposition parties.

On the economic front, the new administration is working to partially or wholly privatize major state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the telecom, aviation, power, sugar, railway, and industrial parks sectors.  In addition, the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) lifted a restriction on the logistics sector and enacted a law that allows Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to gradually open up some sectors of the economy to foreign investors.  Ethiopia’s rapprochement with Eritrea could possibly open up alternative ports for trade. Furthermore, the country recently ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and eased visa requirements for African Union member countries with the goal of enhancing regional trade and tourism and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).  The GOE announced its commitment to modernize the financial sector, improve the ease of doing business, and enhance macroeconomic and fiscal management.

Ethiopia’s economy is currently in transition.  Coming off a decade of double-digit growth, fueled primarily by public infrastructure projects funded through debt, the GOE has tightened its belt, reducing inefficient government expenditures, putting a moratorium on most new government mega-projects, and attempting to get its accounts in order at bloated state-owned enterprises (SOEs).  The IMF put the growth of the Ethiopian economy at 7.7 percent for FY2017/18 and is projecting an 8.5 percent annual growth rate for the medium term. Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria, with a population of over 100 million, approximately two-thirds of whom are under age 30. Low-cost labor, a national airline with 105 passenger connections, and growing consumer markets are key elements attracting foreign investment.

Ethiopia’s imports in the last year have experienced a slight decline in large part due to a reduction in public investment programs and a dire foreign exchange shortage.  Distressingly, export performance remains weak, declining due to falling primary commodity prices and an overvalued exchange rate. The acute foreign exchange shortage (the Ethiopian birr is not a freely convertible currency) and the absence of capital markets are choking private sector growth.  Companies often face long lead-times importing goods and dispatching exports due to logistical bottlenecks, high land-transportation costs, and bureaucratic delays. Ethiopia is not a signatory of major intellectual property rights treaties.

All land in Ethiopia belongs to “the people” and is administered by the government.  Private ownership does not exist, but “land-use rights” have been registered in most populated areas.  The GOE retains the right to expropriate land for the “common good,” which it defines to include expropriation for commercial farms, industrial zones, and infrastructure development.  Successful investors in Ethiopia conduct thorough due diligence on land titles at both the state and federal levels, and undertake consultations with local communities regarding the proposed use of the land.  The largest volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ethiopia comes from China, followed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Political instability associated with various ethnic conflicts could negatively impact the investment climate and lower future FDI inflow.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 114 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 159 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2018 $600
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $740

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

In November 2018, the GOE created a new one page government priority dashboard entitled “Ethiopia: A New Horizon of Hope.”  The dashboard, which predominantly focuses on the economy, pinpoints “Key Facts and Challenges” in areas such as “Financial Sector,” “Macro-Economic Management,” and “Export and Revenue Mobilization.”  The dashboard proposes push-to-grow manufacturing and emphasizes agriculture, information communication and technology, and tourism as pillars of a productive economy. The plan also sets concrete targets to raise credit available to the private sector by 20 percent per year and encourages increased private sector participation in several sectors, including power generation and logistics.  The government is currently undertaking changes in legislation and institutions to implement the economic reforms laid out in the dashboard. In addition, Ethiopia has started implementing a Public Private Partnership (PPP) proclamation, equivalent to a law, which would permit foreign investment and ownership of public infrastructure, with an initial focus on power generation and road construction.

Given the scale of investment required to achieve the goal of becoming a middle income economy by 2025 and the announcement of new economic reforms, the country needs significant inflows of FDI.  Tax incentives for investment in the high-priority sectors, such as manufacturing, agribusiness, textiles, sugar, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, minerals, and metal processing, underscore the government’s focus on FDI.

In June 2018, the GOE announced plans to partially privatize Ethiopian Airlines, EthioTelecom, Ethiopian Electric Power, and Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, and fully privatize railways, sugar projects, industrial parks and government-owned hotels.  The GOE has taken concrete measures to open up closed sectors, including drafting a bill to open the aviation sector, drafting legislation to create a new telecommunications regulator and allow foreign investment in that sector, allow minority stakes in joint-ventures by foreign logistics companies, allowing Ethiopian diaspora to hold shares in private Ethiopian banks, and commissioning a study to advise on how best to open up the financial sector.

While laws and regulations may change relatively quickly under the current dynamic reform period, under the existing code, foreign investment is prohibited in wholesale trade (excluding supply of petroleum and its by-products as well as wholesale trade by foreign investors of their locally-produced products), most import trade, export trade of raw coffee, khat, oilseeds, pulses, the export of live sheep, goats, and cattle not raised or fattened by the investor, construction companies (excluding those designated as grade 1), tanning of hides and skins up to crust level, hotels (excluding star-designated hotels), restaurants and bars (excluding international and specialized restaurants), trade auxiliary and ticket selling services, transport services, bakery products and pastries for the domestic market, grinding mills, hair salons, clothing workshops (except garment factories), building and vehicle maintenance, saw milling and timber production, museums, theaters and cinema hall operations, and printing industries.  As part of its ongoing economic reform efforts, the government is in the process of revising the investment code. Foreigners of Ethiopian origin can obtain a resident card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that allows them to invest in many sectors closed to other foreigners. While foreign firms cannot engage in joint ventures in closed sectors, they are allowed to supply goods and services to Ethiopian firms in these sectors.

The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has the mandate to promote and facilitate investments in Ethiopia and its services including: 1) to promote the country’s investment opportunities; 2) to issue investment permits, business licenses, and construction permits; 3) to issue commercial registration certificates and renewals; 4) to negotiate and sign bilateral investment agreements; and, 5) to issue work permits.  In addition, the EIC has the mandate to advise the government on policies to improve the investment climate. At the local level, regional investment agencies facilitate regional investment. Ethiopia’s rank on the 2019 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index improved from 2018, moving from 161 to 159 out of 190 countries. Progress was primarily in the area of reducing barriers to starting a new business by removing competence certificate for certain businesses; reducing the time it takes to obtain planning consent for construction permits; and, establishing specialized benches to resolve commercial cases addressing contract enforcement.  The World Bank also identified areas where Ethiopia’s Ease of Doing Business worsened from 2018 relative to other ranked countries, including getting electricity, registering property, and resolving insolvency. In order to improve the investment climate, attract more FDI, and tackle unemployment challenges, a committee has been formed by the Prime Minister’s Office to systematically examine each indicator on the Doing Business Index, identify factors that inhibit businesses, and envision placing Ethiopia among the top 100 doing business ranking countries.

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) works on voicing the concerns of the U.S. businesses in Ethiopia.  AmCham has provided a mechanism to compete with investors from India, China, the U.K, and the Netherlands, who meet regularly with government officials through their respective associations to discuss issues that hinder their operation in Ethiopia.  The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce also organizes a monthly business forum, which enables the business community to discuss issues related to the investment climate with government officials by sector.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish, acquire, own, and dispose of most forms of business enterprises.  However, there are sectors (mentioned above) that are closed to foreign investors. There is no private ownership of land. All land is owned by the state, but can be leased for up to 99 years.  Small-scale rural landholders have indefinite use rights, but cannot lease out holdings for extended periods, except in the Amhara Region. The 2011 Urban Land Lease Proclamation allows the government to determine the value of land in transfers of leasehold rights, in an attempt to curb speculation by investors.

A foreign investor intending to buy an existing private enterprise or buy shares in an existing enterprise needs to obtain prior approval from the EIC.  While foreign investors have complained about inconsistent interpretation of the regulations governing investment registration (particularly relating to accounting for in-kind investments), they generally do not face undue screening of FDI, unfavorable tax treatment, denial of licenses, discriminatory import or export policies, or inequitable tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Over the past four years, the EIC has undertaken an independent review of its investor services in an effort to streamline the investment process.  According to the EIC, the Commission has already implemented at least 28 services pertaining to licensing and registration, and duty-free importation of capital goods for investment in manufacturing.  The EIC has three Deputy Commissioners, with responsibilities for the following divisions: Investment Operations; Industrial Parks Regulation; and, Policy and Investment Climate Improvement.

Business Facilitation

The EIC has established a one-stop shop service to cut the time and cost of acquiring investment and business licenses.  If all requirements are met, it is now possible to obtain a business license in a single day, although this remains the exception rather than the rule.  According to the 2019 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, on average, it takes 32 days to start a business in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the EIC has adopted a Customer or Account Manager system to build lasting relationships and provide post-investment assistance to investors.  U.S. investors report that the EIC often fails to meet its own stringent deadlines. The EIC readily admits that many bureaucratic barriers to investment remain, but hopes to eliminate many of these in the future.

Currently, more than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s trade passes through the Port of Djibouti, with residual trade passing through the Somaliland port of Berbera or Port Sudan.  In March 2018, Ethiopia concluded an agreement with the Somaliland Ports Authority and DP World to acquire a 19 percent stake in the joint venture developing the Port of Berbera.  The agreement will help Ethiopia secure an additional logistical gateway for its increasing import and export trade. Following the July 2018 rapprochement with Eritrea, the Ethiopian government has investigated the opportunity of accessing an alternative port at either Massawa or Asseb.

The Government of Ethiopia is working to improve business facilitation services by making the licensing and registration process easier and faster, by registering foreign Chambers and business associations in Ethiopia to advocate for their respective country businesses.  U.S. companies can obtain detailed information for the registration of their business in Ethiopia from an online investment guide to Ethiopia (  ).  Though the government is taking positive steps to socially empower women (half of the new cabinet are women), there is no special treatment provided to those who wish to engage in business.

Online business registration is not yet available, but the Ministry of Trade and Industry claims to have plans to migrate the paper-based registration process to a digital system at some unnamed time in the future.  In 2016, the government revised its commercial registration and business licensing legislation, which eliminated some cumbersome and duplicative requirements, such as the yearly renewal of business registrations and the 15,000 ETB (approximately USD 680) minimum capital requirements to set up limited liability companies.  In 2018 the government removed the need to obtain a certificate of competence for certain types of businesses, made the process of obtaining construction permits faster by reducing the time to obtain planning consent, and made enforcing contracts easier by establishing specialized benches to resolve commercial cases.

The full Doing Business Report is available here:  

Outward Investment

There is no outward investment by domestic investors from Ethiopia as citizens/local investors are not allowed to hold foreign accounts.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The constitution recognizes and protects ownership of private property.  However, all land in Ethiopia belongs to “the people” and is administered by the government.  Private ownership does not exist, but land-use rights have been registered in most populated areas.  As land is public property, it cannot be mortgaged. Confusion with respect to the registration of urban land-use rights, particularly in Addis Ababa, is common.  Allegations of corruption in the allocation of urban-land to private investors by government agencies are a major source of popular discontent. The government retains the right to expropriate land for the common good, which it defines as including expropriation for commercial farms, industrial zones, and infrastructure development.  While the government claims to allocate only sparsely settled or empty land to investors, some people have been resettled. In particular, traditional grazing land has often been defined as empty and expropriated, leading to resentment, protests and, in some cases, conflict. In addition, leasehold regulations vary in form and practice by region.  Successful investors in Ethiopia conduct thorough due diligence on land titles at both state and federal levels, and conduct consultations with local communities regarding the proposed use of the land before investing.

We encourage potential investors to ensure their needs are communicated clearly to the host government.  It is important for investors to understand who had land-use rights preceding them, and to research the attitude of local communities to an investor’s use of that land, particularly in region of Oromia, where conflict between international investors and local communities has occurred.

The 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report has ranked Ethiopia 144 out of 190 economies in registering property, as it take on average 52 days to register property.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) oversees intellectual property rights (IPR) issues.  Ethiopia is not yet a signatory to a number of major IPR treaties, such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty, the Berne Convention for Literary and Artistic Works, the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, or the Patent Cooperation Treaty.  The government expressed its intention to accede to the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Marrakesh Protocol, and the Madrid Protocol. To meet this objective, EIPO is drafting a ratification proclamation. EIPO has been tasked primarily to protect Ethiopian patents and copyrights and to fight pirated software. Generally, EIPO is weak in terms of staff and budget, and it does not have law enforcement authority.  Abuse of U.S. trademarks is rampant, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors. The government does not publicly track counterfeit goods seizures, and no estimates are available. Ethiopia is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

EIPO contact and office information is available at  

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles   from this page  

Embassy POC: Economic Officer, Helena Schrader,


Executive Summary

Gabon is a historically stable country located in a volatile region of the world and has significant economic advantages:  a small population (roughly 2 million), an abundance of natural resources, and a strategic location along the Gulf of Guinea.  After taking office in 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba introduced reforms to diversify Gabon’s economy away from oil and from traditional investment partners and to position Gabon as an emerging economy.  Gabon promotes foreign investment across a range of sectors, particularly in the oil and gas, infrastructure, timber, ecotourism, and mining sectors. Despite these efforts, Gabon’s economy remains dependent on revenue generated by the exportation of hydrocarbons.  Gabon’s commercial ties with France remain very strong, but the government continues to seek to diversify its sources by courting investors from the rest of the world. In 2018, the Gabonese government lifted exit visa requirements for U.S. citizens.

Although Gabon is taking steps towards making the country a more attractive destination for foreign investment, it remains a difficult place to do business, especially without in-country or francophone experience.  Foreign firms are active in the country, particularly in the extractive industries, but the difficulty involved in establishing a new business and the time it takes to finalize deals are impediments to increased U.S. private sector investment.  Although the Gabonese government is taking a more active role to ensure transparency in extractive industries, investors are still waiting for key reforms to be established in law and in practice. Gabon enacted a new mining code in 2015. Gabon proposed revisions to its 2014 hydrocarbons code to draw more investors with greater flexibility and attractive financial terms.  The Gabonese government expects to implement the new hydrocarbons code in 2019.   

Increased investment is constrained due to limited bureaucratic capacity, unclear lines of decision-making authority, a lack of a clearly-established and consistent process for companies to enter the market, lengthy bureaucratic delays, high production costs, a small domestic market, rigid labor laws, and limited and poor infrastructure.  The judicial system at times fails to enforce the rule of law and limits access to justice. Corruption and lack of transparency remain an impediment to investment. The Gabonese government inconsistantly applies customs regulations.

Economic conditions in Gabon weakened throughout 2017 and 2018.  In addition to budget constraints due to low oil prices, the government lacks fiscal transparency.  Many international companies, including U.S. firms, continue to have difficulties collecting timely payments from the Gabonese government, and some companies in the oil sector have closed down operations.  To address fiscal imbalances, Gabon signed in June of 2017 a three-year Extended Fund Facility arrangement of USD 642 million with the IMF.  While opportunities exist, the investment climate in Gabon will remain difficult as the government must have the politcal will to make prudent decisions.  In 2018, higher oil prices, new investment in the oil sector and export processing zones, and the increasing manganese production helped support a modest recovery of economic growth of about 2 percent (according to the IMF September 2018 report).

Table 1

Measure Year Index/ Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 124 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 169 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A 
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2017 – $251 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $6,650

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Gabon’s 1998 investment code conforms to Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) investment regulations and provides the same rights to foreign companies operating in Gabon as to domestic firms.  Businesses are protected from expropriation or nationalization without appropriate compensation, as determined by an independent third party. Certain sectors, such as mining, forestry, petroleum, agriculture, and tourism have special specific investment codes, which encourage investment through customs and tax incentives.

Gabon established the Investment Promotion Agency (ANPI-Gabon) with the assistance of the World Bank in April 2014.  The ANPI-Gabon’s mission is to promote investments and exports, support small and medium-sized enterprises, manage public-private partnerships, and help companies to get established.  The agency is supposed to act as the gateway for investment into the country and reduce administrative procedures, costs, and waiting periods.

Gabonese authorities have made efforts to prioritize investment.  On March 7, 2017, the High Council for Investment was established to promote investment and boost the economy.  This body provides a platform for dialogue between the public and private sectors, and its main objectives are to improve the economy and create jobs.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no limits on foreign ownership or control, except for discrete activities customarily reserved for the state, including military and paramilitary activities.

Foreign investors are largely treated in the same manner as their Gabonese counterparts with regard to the purchase of real estate, negotiation of licenses, and entering into commercial agreements.  There is no general requirement for local participation in investments (see local labor requirements below). Many businesses find it useful to have a local partner who can help navigate the subjective aspects of the business environment.

Gabon Oil Company, a state-owned enterprise created in 2011, has an automatic right to purchase up to a 15 percent share in any hydrocarbon contract at market price.

The standard practice is for the Gabonese Presidency to review foreign investment contracts after ministerial-level negotiations are completed.  There are instances where the Presidency gets involved to push negotiations stalled at the ministerial level.  The Presidency takes a very active role in meeting with investors.  The lack of a standardized procedure for new entrants to negotiate deals with the government can lead to confusion and time-consuming negotiations.  Moreover, the centralization of decision-making by a few senior officials who are exceedingly busy can delay the process.  As a result, new entrants often find the process of finalizing deals time-consuming and difficult to navigate.

U.S. investors are not disadvantaged by ownership or control mechanisms, sector restrictions, or investment screening mechanisms.  However, French companies continue to dominate major sectors in Gabon. Lack of French language skills can put American or non-Francophone firms at a disadvantage.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Gabon has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 1995.  In June 2013, Gabon conducted an investment policy review with the WTO.  The government has not conducted any investment policy reviews through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the past three years.

Business Facilitation

The government encourages investments in some of Gabon’s main industries (oil and gas, mining, and timber) through customs and tax incentives.  For example, oil and mining companies are exempt from customs duties on imported working equipment. The Tourism Investment Code, enacted in 2000, provides tax incentives to foreign tourism investors during the first eight years of operation.  A SEZ located at Nkok offers tax incentives to industrial investors.

ANPI-Gabon houses more than 20 public and private agencies, including the Chamber of Commerce, National Social Security Fund (CNSS), and National Health Insurance and Social Security (CNAMGS).  ANPI-Gabon aims to attract domestic and international investors through improved methods of approving and licensing procedures and support for public-private dialogue. It has a single window registration process that allows domestic and foreign investors to register their business in 48 hours.  There are no special mechanisms for equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities in Gabon.

ANPI-Gabon’s website address is:  

Outward Investment

One of ANPI-Gabon’s primary goals is to promote outward investments and exports.  The Gabonese government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Secured interest in property is recognized, and the recording system is relatively reliable.

There are no specific regulations for foreign and/or non-resident investors regarding land lease or acquisition.  Laws in Gabon for private and commercial property do not provide any restrictions on nationality for the possession and ownership of property in Gabon.

Almost 85 percent of Gabon’s area (and possibly 95 percent or more) is legally owned by the state.  Only 14,000 private land titles appear to have been registered in Gabon according to a 2012 report; most refer to tiny urban parcels.  Urban areas constitute no more than one percent of total land area.  The government created the National Agency for Urban Planning, Surveys and the Land Registry in 2011.

If property legally purchased is unoccupied by the owner, property ownership can revert to others.

Intellectual Property Rights

As a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Gabon adheres to the laws of the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI).  Based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, OAPI aims to ensure the publication and protection of patent rights, encourage creativity and transfer of technology, and create favorable conditions for research. As a member of OAPI, Gabon acceded to a number of international agreements on patents and intellectual property rights (IPR), including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Gabon is also a signatory of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). U.S. companies have not raised IPR concerns with the Embassy.

During the past year, no IPR related laws or regulations were enacted.  Gabon does not report on seizures of counterfeit goods.  Gabon is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the WIPO country profiles at  .

Resources for Rights Holder:

Diana Costa
Political/Economic Officer
U.S. Embassy Libreville
+241 0145 7000

For a list of local attorneys visit:

Gambia, The

Executive Summary

The Gambia has an active private sector and the government has announced its support for encouraging local investment and attracting foreign direct investment. There is a government agency dedicated to attracting foreign investment and promoting exports and it provides guidelines and incentives to all investors whose portfolios qualify for a Special Investment Certificate.

The Gambia has a small economy that relies primarily on agriculture, tourism, and remittances for support. In recent years, the economy was hit by economic shocks in agriculture caused by erratic rainfalls. Gradual reforms in fiscal policies have helped to improve stability and growth in the economy. However, despite the global economic challenges, the Gambia Government remains cautiously optimistic that growth will be maintained and the current macroeconomic stability will be sustained in the medium to long term. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was at 5.4% in 2018 compared to 4.5% in 2017.

The Gambia has made sustained progress in strengthening democratic institutions, maintaining sound economic policies, and investing in its people. As a result, on December 31, 2018 The Gambia was re-selected by the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Board of Directors (Board) to continue developing a threshold program.

There are opportunities for investment in several sectors, including energy (oil exploration and exploitation; renewable energies, specifically solar); natural resources (heavy mineral sands); agriculture (rice and cereal production, but also processed foods); tourism (increasing the number of tourists); and finally, infrastructure (roads, bridges, power / utility distribution, telecommunications systems, drainage systems).The Gambia is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic union of 15 countries located in West Africa.

However, despite the global economic challenges, the Gambian government remains cautiously optimistic that growth will be maintained and the current macroeconomic stability will be sustained in the medium to long term.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 93 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 149 of 190
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 680 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Although the government encourages foreign investment in virtually all the sectors of the Gambian economy, through the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), eight areas are also identified as “priority sectors” which attract a Special Investment Certificate (SIC) that provides a number of incentives, including duty waivers and tax holidays. The eight areas include;

  • Agriculture
  • Air Services
  • Energy
  • Fisheries
  • ICT
  • Light Manufacturing
  • River Transport
  • Tourism

There are no laws or practices in The Gambia that discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors.

The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) is the national agency responsible for the promotion and facilitation of private sector investments into The Gambia.

In offering investor–facilitation services, the Agency acts as the first point of contact for investors, provides information on relevant procedures for setting up a business, and helps form the necessary network of contacts in The Gambia for successful business operations.

GIEPA offers the following services:

  • Investment Generation
  • Investment Facilitation
  • Business Development Services
  • Export Development
  • Support to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
  • Image Building & Branding; and
  • Policy Advocacy

To maintain dialogue with investors, The Gambia Competitiveness Improvement Forum was created as part of the 2015 GIEPA Act, which hosts sector based forums to maintain dialogue with investors. In 2017, GIEPA hosted the International Agriculture Investment Forum to promote agriculture and market-oriented agricultural production within the farming community.  GIEPA did not host investment forums in 2018.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

 Foreign and domestic private entities have a right to own business enterprises and engage in in all forms of remunerative activities in The Gambia.

There are no economy-wide limits on foreign ownership or control of businesses except in the operations of defense industries, which are closed to all private sector participation, irrespective of nationality.

Apart from Defense related activities, there are no sector-specific restrictions, limitations, or requirements that are legally applied to foreign ownership and control.

There is no mandatory screening of foreign direct investment, but such screening may be conducted if there is suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing. Investors subjected to such a screening may be asked for business registration documents and bank statements. As part of the country’s privatization program, foreign investors are treated the same as local investors..

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The UNCTAD conducted a fact-finding mission to produce an Investment Policy Review (IPR) for The Gambia. UNCTAD’s 2017 IPR for The Gambia (most recent available IPR) is available on UNCTAD’s website at:

Business Facilitation

The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) assists foreign investors to establish businesses in The Gambia. GIEPA is mandated to facilitate the establishment, operation, and development of businesses in The Gambia. According to the World Bank Doing Business indicators, The Gambia is ranked 149 for Starting a Business in a pool of 190 countries.

According to the 2018 Doing Business report, it takes seven procedures and, on average, over 25 days to start a business in the country.  These procedures include registering a unique company name, obtaining a tax identification number (TIN), registering employees with the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, registering with the Commercial Registry, obtaining an operational license, and designing a company seal.  While this can be done by anyone in theory, a local attorney who is familiar with the system can facilitate the process. In 2010, a Single Window Business Registration Desk was established at the Ministry of Justice. This initiative has reduced the number of days it takes to register a business in the country to one day.

Outward Investment

There are no set restrictions to domestic investors investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights and interests exist and are clearly protected under the laws of The Gambia.

The Department of Lands and Regional Government issues title deeds, which are reliable. Property rights and interests, though clearly protected under the laws, were not enforced under the old regime.  However, the new administration has vowed to uphold the laws going forward. Mortgages and liens exist but are largely unused. The Department of Lands and Regional Government issues title deeds, which are reliable.  There are specific regulations regarding land lease or acquisition by foreign and/or non-resident investors. In 2007, the Lands Commission Act was established by the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government.

There are specific regulations regarding land lease or acquisition by foreign and/or non-resident investors. In 2007, the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government established the Lands Commission Act:

Section 14 of the act provides for the following functions, stating that the Commission shall:

(a) advise the Secretary of State on political matters relating to land administration to ensure strict adherence to those policies and transparency in land allocations;

(b) investigate disputes on land ownership and occupation in any area in The Gambia;

(c) assess land rent and premium for properties within any area in The Gambia;

(d) monitor the registration of properties and inspect land registers and records;

(e) be responsible for all matters relating to national boundaries, including monitoring and reporting to the Secretary of State; and

(f) perform such other functions as the Secretary of State may assign.

The Gambia ranks 132 on the 2018 World Bank Rankings for Registering Property and 21 for Dealing with Construction Permits.

In 2013, the Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF) was launched in The Gambia to assess the number of lands without clear title, but to date, the LGAF implementation has been practically non-existent.

Legal owners normally allow squatters to occupy empty lands until they are ready to begin construction, at which time disputes often result in the squatters being evicted.

Intellectual Property Rights

Due to a lack of intellectual property rights (IPR) experts, the legal structure for IPR protection is largely weak, thus there has been a history of infringement on rights in The Gambia. The Gambia is a signatory to both the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. According to The Gambia Police Force (GPF), few IPR crimes have been reported due to the lack of IPR experts in country.

No new IPR laws or regulations have been enacted in The Gambia in the past year.  There are also no reform bills pending in parliament. However, through the Ministry of Justice, the GOTG is currently in the draft stages of issuing an Intellectual Property and Trademarks Act.  Since there has not been a history of IPR prosecution in The Gambia, the extent to which the Act would improve/hinder the protection of IPR rights is unknown, but the introduction of legislation is expected to promote greater competition in the economy.

The Gambia Police Force (GPF) established an Anti-Intellectual Property Crime Unit at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.  The Gambia keeps track of seizures of counterfeit goods. However, there have been no recent reports of the government seizing counterfeit goods, despite the prevalence of counterfeit goods such as pirated movies, music CDs, toothpaste, and cigarettes imported from China. The Gambia does not prosecute IPR violations.

The Gambia is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report, nor is it included in the Notorious Markets List.

The Gambia is not included in the Notorious Markets List.


Executive Summary

Ghana’s macroeconomic situation has improved over the last three years under its extended credit facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which concluded in April 2019.  The fiscal deficit has narrowed, inflation has come down, and GDP growth has rebounded, driven primarily by increases in oil production. Ghana’s economy is projected to grow 8.8 percent in 2019, according to the IMF, after expanding over 8 percent in 2017 and an estimated 5.6 percent in 2018.  However, the economy remains highly dependent on the export of primary commodities such as gold, cocoa, and oil/gas, and consequently is vulnerable to potential slowdowns in the global economy and commodity price shocks. The Government of Ghana is seeking to diversify and industrialize, in particular through agro-processing, mining, and manufacturing.  It has made attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) a priority to support its industrialization plans and overcome an annual infrastructure funding gap of at least USD 1.5 billion.

While the economy is doing relatively well, high government debt, low government revenue, and high energy costs remain challenges.  Ghana has a population of 30 million with six million potential taxpayers of which only two million are actually registered to pay taxes.  As Ghana seeks to move beyond dependence on foreign aid, it must develop a solid domestic revenue base. On the energy front, Ghana has enough installed power generating capacity to meet current demand, but it needs to make the cost of electricity more affordable through more effective management of its power distribution system and diversification of its energy matrix, including through renewable energy.  

Among the challenges hindering foreign direct investment are: a burdensome bureaucracy, costly and difficult financial services, under-developed infrastructure, ambiguous property laws, a costly power and water supply, the high costs of cross-border trade, a shifting policy environment, lack of transparency, and an unskilled labor force.  Enforcement of laws and policies is weak. Public procurements are opaque and there are often issues with delayed payments. In addition, there are troubling trends in investment policy over the last five years, with the passage of local content regulations in the petroleum sector and the power sector.

Despite these challenges, Ghana’s abundant raw materials (gold, cocoa, and oil/gas), security, and political stability make it stand out as one of the better locations for investment in sub-Saharan Africa.  The investment climate in Ghana is relatively welcoming to foreign investment. There is no discrimination against foreign-owned businesses. Investment laws protect investors against expropriation and nationalization and guarantee that investors can transfer profits out of the country.  Ghana enjoys a lower degree of corruption than that of some regional counterparts, although companies have reported a high level of corruption in foreign investments. Among the most promising sectors are agribusiness; food processing; textiles and apparel; downstream oil, gas, and minerals processing; and mining-related services subsectors.

The government has acknowledged the need to foster an enabling environment to attract FDI, and is taking steps to overhaul the regulatory system and improve the ease of doing business, maintain fiscal discipline, combat corruption, and promote better transparency and accountability.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 78 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 114 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 107 of 126
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $1,698
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $1,880

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Ghana has no overall economic or industrial strategy that discriminates against foreign-owned businesses.  The government has made increasing FDI a priority and acknowledged the importance of having an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.  Officials are implementing some regulatory and other reforms to improve the ease of doing business and make investing in Ghana more attractive.

The 2013 GIPC Act requires the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) to register, monitor and keep records of all business enterprises in Ghana.  Sector-specific laws further regulate investments in minerals and mining, oil and gas, industries within Free Zones, banking, non-banking financial institutions, insurance, fishing, securities, telecommunications, energy, and real estate.  Some sector-specific laws, such as in the oil and gas sector and the power sector, include specific local content requirements that could discourage international investment. Foreign investors are required to satisfy the provisions of the GIPC Act as well as the provisions of sector-specific laws.  GIPC leadership has pledged to work in closer collaboration with the private sector to address investor concerns but there have been no significant changes to the laws. More information on investing in Ghana can be obtained from GIPC’s website,  .

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Ghana is one of the more open economies to foreign equity ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Most of its major sectors are fully open to foreign capital participation.

U.S. investors in Ghana are treated the same as any other foreign investor.  All foreign investment projects must register with the GIPC. Foreign investments are subject to the following minimum capital requirements: USD 200,000 for joint ventures with a Ghanaian partner that should have at least 10 percent of the equity; USD 500,000 for enterprises wholly-owned by a non-Ghanaian; and USD 1 million for trading companies (firms that buy or sell imported goods or services) wholly owned by non-Ghanaian entities.  The minimum capital requirement may be in cash or capital goods relevant to the investment. Trading companies are also required to employ at least 20 skilled Ghanaian nationals.

Ghana’s investment code excludes foreign investors from participating in eight economic sectors: petty trading, the operation of taxi and car rental services with fleets of fewer than 25 vehicles, lotteries (excluding soccer pools), the operation of beauty salons and barber shops, printing of recharge scratch cards for subscribers to telecommunications services, production of exercise books and stationery, retail of finished pharmaceutical products, and the production, supply, and retail of drinking water in sealed pouches.  Sectors where foreign investors are allowed limited market access include: telecommunications, banking, fishing, mining, petroleum, and real estate.

Real Estate

The 1992 Constitution recognized existing private and traditional titles to land.  Freehold acquisition of land is no longer permitted. There is an exception, however, for transfer of freehold title between family members for land held under the traditional system.  Foreigners are allowed to enter into long-term leases of up to 50 years and the lease may be bought, sold, or renewed for consecutive terms. Nationals are allowed to enter into 99-year leases.

Oil and Gas

The oil and gas sector is subject to a variety of state ownership and local content requirements.  The Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act (2016, Act 919) mandates local participation. All entities seeking petroleum exploration licenses in Ghana must create a consortium in which the state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) holds a minimum 15 percent carried interest.  The Petroleum Commission issues all licenses, but exploration licenses must be approved by Parliament. Further, local content regulations specify in-country sourcing requirements with respect to the full range of goods, services, hiring, and training associated with petroleum operations. The regulations also require mandatory local equity participation for all suppliers and contractors.  The Minister of Energy must approve all contracts, sub-contracts, and purchase orders above USD 100,000. Non-compliance with these regulations may result in a criminal penalty, including imprisonment for up to five years.

The Petroleum Commission applies registration fees and annual renewal fees on foreign oil and gas service providers, which, depending on a company’s annual revenues, range from USD 70,000 to USD 150,000, compared to fees of between USD 5,000 and USD 30,000 for local companies.


Per the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), foreign investors are restricted from obtaining a small-scale mining license for mining operations less than or equal to an area of 25 acres (10 hectares).  Non-Ghanaians may only apply for industrial mineral rights if the proposed investment is USD 10 million or above. The Act mandates compulsory local participation, whereby the government acquires 10 percent equity in ventures at no cost.  In order to qualify for a license, a non-Ghanaian company must be registered in Ghana, either as a branch office or a subsidiary that is incorporated under the Ghana Companies Act or Incorporated Private Partnership Act.

The Minerals and Mining Act provides for a stability agreement, which protects the holder of a mining lease for a period of 15 years from future changes in law that may impose a financial burden on the license holder.  When an investment exceeds USD 500 million, lease holders can negotiate a development agreement that contains elements of a stability agreement and more favorable fiscal terms. Parliament passed a new Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act (Act 900) in December 2015.  One significant provision of the new act requires the mining lease-holder to, “…pay royalty to the Republic at the rate and in the manner that may be prescribed.” The previous Act 703 capped the royalty rate at six percent. The Minerals Commission implements the law.  

Power Sector

In December 2017, Ghana introduced regulations requiring local content and local participation in the power sector. The Energy Commission (Local Content and Local Participation) (Electricity Supply Industry) Regulations, 2017 (L.I. 2354) specify minimum initial levels of local participation/ownership and ten year targets:

Electricity Supply Activity Initial Level of Local Participation Target Level in 10 Years
Wholesale Power Supply 15 51
Renewable Energy Sector 15 51
Electricity Distribution 30 51
Electricity Transmission 15 49
Electricity Sales Service 80 100
Electricity Brokerage Service 80 100

The regulations also specify minimum and target levels of local content in engineering and procurement, construction works, post construction works, services, management, operations and staff.  All persons engaged in or planning to engage in the supply of electricity are required to register with the ‘Electricity Supply Local Content and Local Participation Committee’ and satisfy the minimum local content and participation requirements within five years. Failure to comply with the requirements could result in a fine or imprisonment.


The National Insurance Commission (NIC) imposes nationality requirements with respect to the board and senior management of locally-incorporated insurance and reinsurance companies.  At least two board members must be Ghanaians, and either the Chairman of the board or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) must be Ghanaian. In situations where the CEO is not Ghanaian, the NIC requires that the Chief Financial Officer be Ghanaian. Minimum initial capital investment in the insurance sector is 15 million Ghana cedis (approximately USD 3 million).


Per the Electronic Communications Act of 2008, the National Communications Authority (NCA) regulates and manages the nation’s telecommunications and broadcast sectors.  For 800 MHz spectrum licenses for mobile telecommunications services, Ghana restricts foreign participation to a joint venture or consortium that includes a minimum of 25 percent Ghanaian ownership.  Applicants have two years to meet the requirement, and can list the 25 percent on the Ghana Stock Exchange. The first option to purchase stock is given to Ghanaians, but there are no restrictions on secondary trading.

There are no significant limits on foreign investment or differences in the treatment of foreign and national investors in other sectors of the economy.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Ghana has not conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the OECD recently. UNCTAD last conducted an IPR in 2003.

The WTO last conducted a Trade Policy Review (TPR) in May 2014.  The TPR concluded that the 2013 amendment to the investment law raised the minimum capital that foreigners must invest to levels above those specified in Ghana’s 1994 GATS horizontal commitments, and excluded new activities from foreign competition.  However, it was determined that overall this would have minimum impact on dissuading future foreign investment due to the size of the companies traditionally seeking to do business within the country. An executive summary of the findings can be found at:  

Business Facilitation

Although registering a business is a relatively easy procedure and can be done online through the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) at   , businesses have noted that the process involved in establishing a business is lengthy and complex, and requires compliance with regulations and procedures of at least four other government agencies, including GIPC, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Immigration Service, and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, it takes eight procedures and 14 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) that wants to engage in international trade in Ghana.  This is longer than the regional average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Foreign investors must obtain a certificate of capital importation, which can take 14 days. The local authorized bank must confirm the import of capital with the Bank of Ghana, which will then confirm the transaction to GIPC for investment registration purposes.

Per the GIPC Act, all foreign companies are required to register with GIPC after incorporation with the RGD.  Registration can be completed online at . While the registration process is designed to be completed within five business days, bureaucracy often delays this process.

The Ghanaian business environment is unique and guidance can be extremely helpful.  In some cases, a foreign investment may enjoy certain tax benefits under the law or additional incentives if the project is deemed critical to the country’s development.  Most companies or individuals considering investing in Ghana or trading with Ghanaian counterparts find it useful to consult with a local attorney or business facilitation company.  The Embassy maintains a list of local attorneys which is available through the U.S. Commercial Service in Ghana ( Specific information about setting up a business is available at the GIPC website: .

Ghana Investment Promotion Centre
Post: P. O. Box M193, Accra-Ghana
Telephone: +233 (0) 302 665125, +233 (0)302 665126, +233 (0) 302 665127, +233 (0) 302 665128/ +233 (0) 302 665129
Telephone: +233 (0) 302 244318254/ 244318252

Note that mining or oil/gas sector companies are required to obtain licensing/approval from the following relevant bodies:

Petroleum Commission Head Office
Plot No. 4A, George Bush Highway, Accra, Ghana
P.O. Box CT 228 Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
Telephone: +233 [0] 302 953392 | +233 [0] 302 953393

Minerals Commission
Minerals House, No. 12 Switchback Road, Cantonments, Accra
P.O. Box M 248
Telephone: +233 (0) 302 772 783 /+233 (0) 302 772 786 /+233 (0) 302 773 053

Outward Investment

Ghana has no specific outward investment policy.  It has entered into bilateral treaties, however, with a number of countries to promote and protect foreign investment on a reciprocal basis.  A few Ghanaian companies have established operations in other West African countries.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The legal system recognizes and enforces secured interest in property.  The process to get clear title over land is difficult, complicated, and lengthy.  It is important to conduct a thorough search at the Lands Commission to ascertain the identity of the true owner of any land being offered for sale.  Investors should be aware that land records can be incomplete or non-existent and, therefore, clear title may be impossible to establish.

Mortgages exist, although there are only a few thousand in existence due to a variety of factors including land ownership issues and scarcity of long-term finance.  Mortgages are regulated by the Home Mortgages Finance Act 770 (2008) which has enhanced the process of foreclosure. A mortgage must be registered under the Land Title Registration Law, a requirement that is mandatory for it to take effect.  Registration with the Land Title Registry is a reliable system of recording the transaction.

Intellectual Property Rights

The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is an evolving area of law in Ghana.  Progress has been made in recent years to afford protection under both local and international law.  Ghana is a party to the Universal Copyright Convention, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PTC), the Singapore Trademark Law Treaty (STLT), and the Madrid Protocol Concerning the International Registration of Marks.  Ghana is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the English-speaking African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2004, Ghana’s Parliament ratified the WIPO internet treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty. Ghana also amended six IPR laws to comply with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), including: copyrights, trademarks, patents, layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, geographical indications, and industrial designs.  Except for the copyright law, implementing regulations necessary for fully effective promulgation have not been passed.

The Government of Ghana launched a National Intellectual Property Policy and Strategy in January 2016, which aimed to strengthen the legal framework for protection, administration, and enforcement of IPR and promote innovation and awareness, although progress on implementation stalled.  Enforcement remains weak and piracy of intellectual property continues to take place. Although precise statistics are not available for many sectors, counterfeit computer software is regularly available at street markets and counterfeit pharmaceuticals have found their way into public hospitals.  Counterfeit products have also been discovered in such disparate sectors as industrial epoxy, cosmetics, drinking spirits, and household cleaning products. Based on cases where it has been possible to trace the origin of counterfeit goods, most have been found to have been produced outside the region, usually in Asia.  Holders of IPR have access to local courts for redress of grievances, although the few trademark, patent, and copyright infringement cases that have been filed in Ghana by American companies have reportedly moved through the legal system slowly.

Ghana is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

Resources for Rights Holders

Please contact the following at Mission Accra if you have further questions regarding IP issues:

Margo Siemer
Economic Section
No. 24 Fourth Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana

A list of local lawyers can be found at:

American Chamber of Commerce Ghana
5TH Crescent Street, Asylum Down
P.O. Box CT2869, Cantonments-Accra, Ghana
Tel: 233 030 2247562/233 030 7011862
Fax: 233 030 2247562

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at 


Executive Summary

Despite persistent corruption and fiscal mismanagement, the long-term economic prognosis for Guinea, buoyed by sizeable endowments of natural resources, energy opportunities, and arable land, remains promising. Constrained by an austere budget, Guinea has increasingly looked to foreign investment and the private sector to stimulate growth. China, Guinea’s largest trading partner, has dramatically increased its role in the last two years through investment agreements. Investors should proceed with caution, realizing that the potential for high profits comes with significant risk.

Blessed with abundant mineral resources, Guinea has the potential to be an economic leader in the extractives industry. Guinea is home to over half the world’s reserves of bauxite (aluminum ore), and bauxite accounts for over half of Guinea’s present exports. Most of the country’s bauxite is exported by the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG) [a joint venture between the Government of Guinea, U.S.-based Alcoa, the Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto, and Dadco Investments of the Channel Islands], via a designated port in Kamsar. Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB), a Franco-Sino-Singaporean conglomerate, has surpassed CBG as the largest single producer of bauxite in the world. New investment by SMB and CBG, in addition to new market entries, are expected to significantly increase Guinea’s bauxite output over the next five to ten years. The Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco), the Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), and Alufer are relative newcomers to the bauxite industry and are still growing. Guinea also possesses over four billion tons of untapped high-grade iron ore, significant gold and diamond reserves, undetermined amounts of uranium, as well as prospective offshore oil reserves. Artisanal and medium-sized industrial gold mining in the Siguiri region is a significant contributor to the Guinean economy, but suspicion exists that much of the gold leaves the country clandestinely, without generating any government revenue. In the long term, the Government of Guinea projects that its greatest potential economic driver will be the Simandou iron ore project, which is slated to be the largest greenfield project ever developed in Africa. Chalco bought out Rio Tinto’s shares in the project in 2017, and the Guinean government is anxious to move forward with developing the iron ore concessions. The Guinean government is using Simandou revenue in long-term planning but the project has not moved toward producing anything since Rio Tinto’s departure. The infrastructure costs for the project are projected to be USD 20 billion, which is enormous considering Guinea’s GDP is less than USD 7 billion/year. When fully operational, the project could double Guinea’s GDP. In 2017, the governments of Guinea and China signed a USD20 billion framework agreement giving Guinea potentially USD1 billion per year in infrastructure projects in exchange for increased access to mineral wealth. The results of previous Chinese infrastructure projects, however, have been mixed: power projects have had a positive impact, but others, like the Nongo stadium, have been less successful.

Guinea’s abundant rainfall and natural geography bode well for hydroelectric and renewable energy production. The largest energy sector investment in Guinea is the 450MW Souapiti dam project (valued at USD2.1 billion), begun in late 2015 with Chinese investment, which likewise completed the 240MW Kaleta Dam (valued at USD526 million) in May 2015. Kaleta more than doubled Guinea’s electricity supply, and for the first time furnished Conakry with more reliable, albeit seasonal, electricity (May-November). Souapiti is due to begin regulating the water available to the Kaleta Dam in September 2019 and will begin to produce electricity in late 2020.  A third hydroelectric dam on the same river is in the early stages of development – Chinese mining firm TBEA is providing financing for the Amaria power plant (300 MW, USD1.2 bn investment), with financial negotiations for the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement in process leading to the final determination of the tariff to be paid by the Guinean energy operator EDG. With proper distribution infrastructure, these projects are expected to lead Guinea to become an energy exporter in West Africa. The government is also looking to invest in solar and other energy sources to compensate for lost hydroelectric production during Guinea’s dry season. To that end, U.S.-based Endeavor has started work on Project Te, a 50MW thermal plant on the outskirts of the capital.  The World Bank is sponsoring four 50MW solar projects in the Kankan region.

Agriculture and fisheries are other areas of opportunity and growth in Guinea. Already an exporter of fruits, vegetables, and palm oil to its immediate neighbors, Guinea is climatically well suited for large-scale agricultural production. However, the sector has suffered from decades of neglect and mismanagement, while the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis hit the agricultural workforce hard. Guinea is also an importer of rice, its primary staple crop. President Alpha Conde has expressed his personal desire to see Guinea’s long-term economy based on agriculture rather than extractives.

Guinea’s macroeconomic and financial situation is weak. The Ebola crisis stifled Guinea’s economic growth prospects in 2014 and 2015, leaving the government with few financial resources to invest in infrastructure. Lower natural resource revenues stemming from a drop in world prices and ill-advised government loans have strained an already tight government budget. However, improved macroeconomic discipline in 2016-2017 stabilized exchange rates, refilled government coffers, and increased government revenues. Much of this stabilization lasted until late 2017 when the government borrowed excessively from the Central Bank (BCRG), threatening its first 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) review. Still, growth for 2018 was a healthy 8.7 percent (down, however, from 10 percent in 2016), but the largely impoverished population felt little of that, placing the government under pressure to deliver tangible economic development. There is a shortage of credit, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises, and the government is increasingly looking to international investment to increase growth, provide jobs, and kick-start the economy.

In 2017, Guinea passed and implemented an anti-corruption law, but it has yet to be tested in court. The country has recently updated its Investment Code and renewed efforts to attract international investors, including a new investment promotion website put in place in 2016 by Guinea’s investment promotion agency ( to increase transparency and streamline investment. However, Guinea’s capacity to enforce its more investor-friendly laws is compromised by a weak and unreliable legal systemPresident Alpha Condé inaugurated the first Trade Court of Guinea on March 20, 2018.  The aim of the Trade Court is to improve the business environment for local and foreign investors but it remains to be seen what effect it will have.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 138 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 152 of 190 
Global Innovation Index 2018 119 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2016 $11 
World Bank GNI per capita (Atlas method 2017 $790 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

With the end to the Ebola crisis and President Conde’s re-election and inauguration at the end of 2015, the Guinean government adopted a strong, positive attitude toward foreign direct investment (FDI). Facing budget shortfalls and low commodity prices, the Guinean government hopes FDI will diversify its economy, spur GDP growth, and provide reliable employment. Guinea does not discriminate against foreign investors, with the exception of the prohibition of foreign ownership of media. One area of concern is that mining companies have negotiated different taxation rates despite what the mining code demands. In late 2015, the U.S. Embassy facilitated the establishment of an informal international investors group to liaise with the government. More formally, there is a Chambre des Mines (Chamber of Mines), a government-sanctioned advisory organization that includes Guinea’s major mining firms. Guinea’s Agency for the Promotion of Private Investment (APIP) provides support in the following areas:

  • Create and register businesses
  • Facilitate access to incentives offered under the investment code
  • Provide information and resources to potential investors
  • Publish targeted sector studies and statistics
  • Provide training and technical assistance
  • Facilitate solutions for investors in Guinea’s interior

More information about APIP can be found at:  

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Investors can register under one of four categories of business in Guinea. More information on the four types of business registration is available at  . There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control, and 100 percent ownership by foreign firms is legal in most sectors. As mentioned above, foreign-owned print media, radio, and television stations are not permitted. The 2013 Mining Code gives the government the right to a 15 percent interest in any major mining operation in Guinea (the government decides when an operation has become large enough to qualify). Mining and media notwithstanding, there are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access for foreign investment. Despite this lack of official discrimination, many enterprises have discovered the licensing process to be laden with bureaucratic delays that are usually dealt with by paying consultant fees to help expedite matters. The U.S. Embassy is involved with advocacy when it is aware of excessive delays.

According to the Investment Code, the National Investment Commission has a role in reviewing requests for approval, and for monitoring companies’ efforts to comply with investment obligations. The Ministry for Planning and International Cooperation holds the secretariat for this commission, which grants investment approval. The government gives approved companies, especially industrial firms, the use of the land necessary for their plant, for the duration and under the conditions set out in the terms of approval. The land and associated buildings belong to the State, but can also be rented by or transferred to another firm with government approval.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

There has been no investment policy review conducted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development within the past several years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) last conducted a review of Guinea in 2018.  The 2018 report can be viewed here:  .

Business Facilitation

APIP manages business registration and facilitation and maintains a guide on Guinea’s investment website (  ). Business registration, however, must be completed in person at APIP’s office in Conakry. The only internationally-accredited business facilitation organization that assesses Guinea is, which gives Guinea’s business creation/investment website a 4/10 rating. It takes roughly seventy-two hours to register a business. APIP’s services are available to both Guinean and foreign investors. The “One Stop Shop” at APIP’s Conakry office has the credentials to provide small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with requisite registration numbers, including tax administration numbers and social security numbers. Notaries are required for the creation of any other type of enterprise.

A SME in Guinea is defined as a business with less than 50 employees and revenue less than 500 million Guinean francs (GNF) (around USD50,000). SMEs are taxed at a yearly fixed rate of GNF15 million (USD1,500). Administrative modalities are simplified and funneled through the One Stop Shop. These advantages are available for both Guinean and foreign investors.

Outward Investment

Guinea does not formally promote outward investment and the government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Land Tenure Code of 1996 provides a legal base for documentation of property ownership.

As with ownership of business enterprises, both foreign and national individuals have the right to own property. However, enforcement of these rights depends upon an inefficient Guinean legal and administrative system. It is not uncommon for the same piece of land to have several overlapping deeds. Furthermore, land sales and business contracts generally lack transparency. According to the 2019 World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Guinea ranks 138 out of 190 countries for the ease of registering property, up three places from 2018 (  ).

Intellectual Property Rights

Guinea is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). OAPI is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and several other intellectual property treaties. Guinea modified its intellectual property rights (IPR) laws in 2000 to bring them into line with established international standards. There have been no formal complaints filed on behalf of American companies concerning IPR infringements in Guinea. However, it is not certain that an affirmative IPR judgment would be enforceable, given the general lack of law enforcement capability. The Property Rights office in Guinea is severely understaffed and underfunded. Guinea is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  


Executive Summary

Kenya has a positive investment climate that has made it attractive to international firms seeking a location for regional or pan-African operations.  In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business report, Kenya moved up 19 places, ranking 61 of 190 economies reviewed. In the last three years, it has jumped 47 places on this index.  Year-on-year, Kenya continues to improve its regulatory framework and its attractiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment. Corruption, however, remains endemic and Transparency International’s (TI) 2018 Global Corruption Perception Index ranked Kenya 144 out of 180 countries, one place lower than in 2017.  Kenya has strong telecommunications infrastructure, a robust financial sector, and extensive aviation connections throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. In 2018, Kenya Airways initiated direct flights to New York City in the United States. Mombasa Port is the gateway for the majority of East African trade and Kenya’s membership in the East African Community (EAC), as well as other regional trade blocs, provides growing access to larger regional markets.

In 2018, Kenya took steps to improve its business environment, including passage of the Tax Laws (amended) Bill (2018) and the Finance Act (2018), establishing new procedures and provisions relating to income taxes, value-added taxes, and excise duties.  In 2017, Kenya instituted broad business reforms: simplifying registration procedures for small businesses; improving access to credit information; reducing the cost of construction permits; enhancing electricity reliability; easing the payment of taxes through the iTax platform; and establishing a single window system to speed movement of goods across borders.

Kenya’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain among the strongest in Africa, with five to six percent GDP growth over the past five years, six to eight percent inflation, improving infrastructure, and strong consumer demand from a growing middle class.  A prolonged and acrimonious national election period during the second half of 2017 raised business anxiety and created a drag on growth but, following the elections, business and investment quickly recovered, and tourism was little affected by this turmoil.  President Kenyatta has remained focused on his second term “Big Four” development agenda, seeking to provide universal healthcare coverage; establish national food security; build 500,000 affordable new homes; and increase employment by doubling the manufacturing sector’s share of the economy.

The World Bank’s annual Kenya Economic Update, released in April 2019, cited some short term economic risks to Kenya’s continued growth such as the interest rate cap inhibiting monetary policy and continuing drought conditions, but noted positive developments including the Government of Kenya (GOK) enhancing agricultural financing programs.  At the same time, Kenya’s medium-term economic outlook appears strong especially in the agricultural sector. There has been great interest on the part of American companies to establish or expand their business presence and engagement in Kenya, especially following President Kenyatta’s August 2018 meeting with President Trump in Washington, D.C.  Sectors offering the most opportunities for investors include: agro-processing, financial services, energy, extractives, transportation, infrastructure, retail, restaurants, technology, health care, and mobile banking.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 144 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 61 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 78 of 126
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $405
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $1,460

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Kenya has enjoyed a steadily improving environment for foreign direct investment (FDI).  Foreign investors seeking to establish a presence in Kenya generally receive the same treatment as local investors, and multinational companies make up a large percentage of Kenya’s industrial sector.  The government’s export promotion programs do not distinguish between goods produced by local or foreign-owned firms. The major regulations governing FDI are found in the Investment Promotion Act (2004).  Other important documents that provide the legal framework for FDI include the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, the Companies Ordinance, the Private Public Partnership Act (2013), the Foreign Investment Protection Act (1990), and the Companies Act (2015).  GOK membership in the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides an opportunity to insure FDI against non-commercial risk.

The government does not have a policy to steer investment to specific geographic locations, but encourages investments in sectors that create employment, generate foreign exchange, and create forward and backward linkages with rural areas.  The Central Bank has successfully maintained macroeconomic stability with relatively low inflation and stable exchange rates. The National Treasury is increasingly attentive to ensuring prudent debt management. Kenya puts significant effort into assuring the health and growth of its tourism industry.  To strengthen Kenya’s manufacturing capacity, the government offers incentives for the production of goods for export.

Investment Promotion Agency

KenInvest, the country’s official investment promotion agency, is viewed favorably by international investors (  ).  KenInvest’s mandate is to promote and facilitate investment by assisting investors in obtaining the licenses necessary to invest and by providing other assistance and incentives to facilitate smoother operations.  To help investors navigate local regulations, KenInvest has developed an online database known as eRegulations, designed to provide investors and entrepreneurs with full transparency on Kenya’s investment-related regulations and procedures (  ).

The GOK prioritizes investment retention and maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors.  All proposed legislation must pass through a period of public consultation in which investors have an opportunity to offer feedback.  Private sector representatives can serve as board members on Kenya’s state-owned enterprises. Since 2013, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the apex private sector business association, has had bi-annual round table meetings with President Kenyatta and his cabinet.  Investors’ concerns are considered by a Cabinet committee on the ease of doing business, chaired by President Kenyatta. The American Chamber of Commerce has also taken an increasingly active role in engaging the GOK on Kenya’s business environment, often providing a forum for dialogue.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The government provides the right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity.  In an effort to encourage foreign investment, the GOK in 2015 repealed regulations that imposed a 75 percent foreign ownership limitation for firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, allowing such firms to be 100 percent foreign-owned.  Also in 2015, the government established regulations requiring Kenyans own at least 15 percent of the share capital of derivatives exchanges, through which derivatives such as options and futures can be traded.

Kenya considered imposing “local content” requirements on foreign investments under the Companies Act (2015), which initially contained language requiring all foreign companies to demonstrate at least 30 percent of shareholding by Kenyan citizens by birth.  United States business associations, however, raised concerns over the bill, pointing to its lack of clarity and the possibility such measures could run afoul of Kenya’s commitments under the WTO. After the U.S. government also raised the issue with the Kenyan government, the clause was repealed.

Telecommunications regulator Communications Authority requires 20 percent Kenyan shareholding within three years of receiving a license.  The Mining Act (2016) restricts foreign participation in the mining sector and reserves the acquisition of mineral rights to Kenyan companies, requiring 60 percent Kenyan ownership of mineral dealerships and artisanal mining companies.  The Private Security Regulations Act (2016) restricts foreign participation in the private security sector by requiring that at least 25 percent of shares in private security firms be held by Kenyans. The National Construction Authority Act (2011) imposes local content restrictions on “foreign contractors,” defined as companies incorporated outside Kenya or with more than 50 percent ownership by non-Kenyan citizens.  The act requires foreign contractors to enter into subcontracts or joint ventures assuring that at least 30 percent of the contract work is done by local firms. Regulations implementing these requirements remain in process. The Kenya Insurance Act (2010) restricts foreign capital investment to two-thirds, with no single person controlling more than 25 percent of an insurers’ capital.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Kenya had no investment policy reviews though multilateral organizations in the last three years.

Business Facilitation

In 2011, the GOK established a state agency called KenTrade to address trading partners’ concerns regarding the complexity of trading regulations and procedures.  KenTrade is mandated to facilitate cross-border trade and to implement the National Electronic Single Window System. In 2017, KenTrade launched InfoTrade Kenya, located at, which provides a host of investment products and services to prospective investors in Kenya.  The site documents the process of exporting and importing by product, by steps, by paperwork, and by individuals, including contact information for officials’ responsible relevant permits or approvals.

The Movable Property Security Rights Bill (2017) enhanced the ability of individuals to secure financing through movable assets, including using intellectual property rights as collateral.  The Nairobi International Financial Centre Act (2017) seeks to provide a legal framework to facilitate and support the development of an efficient and competitive financial services sector in Kenya.  The act created the Nairobi Financial Centre Authority to establish and maintain an efficient operating framework to attract and retain firms. The Kenya Trade Remedies Act (2017) provides the legal and institutional framework for Kenya’s application of trade remedies consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) law, which requires a domestic institution to both receive complaints and undertake investigations in line with the WTO Agreements.  To date, however, Kenya has implemented only 7.1 percent of its commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which it ratified in 2015. The Kenya Trade Remedies Act provides for the establishment of the Kenya Trade Remedies Agency for the investigation and imposition of anti-dumping, countervailing duty, and trade safeguards measures, and enables the GOK to take necessary measures to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices.

The Companies Amendment Act (2017) amended the prior Companies Act clarifying ambiguities in the act and conforms to global trends and best practices.  The act amends provisions on the extent of directors’ liabilities, on the extent of directors’ disclosures, and on shareholder remedies to better protect investors, including minority investors.  The amended act eliminates the requirement for small enterprises to have lawyers register their firms, the requirement for company secretaries for small businesses, and the need for small businesses to hold annual general meetings, saving regulatory compliance and operational costs.

The Business Registration Services (BRS) Act (2015) established a state corporation known as the Business Registration Service to ensure effective administration of the laws relating to the incorporation, registration, operation and management of companies, partnerships, and firms.  The BRS also devolves to the counties business registration services such as registration of business names and promoting local business ideas/legal entities, thus reducing costs of registration. The Companies Act (2015) covers the registration and management of both public and private corporations.

In 2014, the GOK established a Business Environment Delivery Unit to address challenges facing investors in the country.  The unit focuses on reducing the bureaucratic steps related to setting up and doing business in the country. Separately, the Business Regulatory Reform Unit operates a website (  ) offering online business registration and providing information on how to access detailed information on additional relevant business licenses and permits, including requirements, costs, application forms, and contact details for the relevant regulatory agency.  In 2013, the GOK initiated the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities program, requiring all public procurement entities to set aside a minimum of 30 percent of their annual procurement spending facilitate the participation of youth, women, and persons with disabilities (

An investment guide to Kenya, also referred to as iGuide Kenya, can be found at  .  iGuides designed by UNCTAD and the International Chamber of Commerce provide investors with up-to-date information on business costs, licensing requirements, opportunities, and conditions in developing countries.  Kenya is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures.

Outward Investment

The GOK does not promote or incentivize outward investment.  Despite this, Kenya is evolving into an outward investor in tourism, manufacturing, retail, finance, education, and media.  Currently, the majority of outward investment remains in the EAC, making the most of Kenyan preferential access between EAC member countries.  The GOK also does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. Rather, the EAC advocates for free movement of capital across the six member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Foreigners cannot own land in Kenya, though they can lease it in 99-year increments.  The cumbersome and opaque process required to acquire land raises concerns about security of title, particularly given past abuses relating to the distribution and redistribution of public land.  The Land (Extension and Renewal of Leases) Rules (2017) has stopped the automatic renewal of leases and now ties renewals to the economic output of the land that must be beneficial to the economy.  If property legally purchased remains unoccupied, the property ownership can revert to other occupiers, including squatters. Privately-owned land comprised six percent of the total land area in 1990; government land was about 20 percent of the total and included national parks, forest land and alienated and un-alienated land.  Trust land is the most extensive type of tenure, comprising 64 percent of the total land area in 1990.

Mortgages and liens exist in Kenya, but the recording system is not reliable – Kenya has only some 40,000 recorded mortgages in a country of 42 million people – and there are often complaints of property rights and interests not being enforced.  The legal infrastructure around land ownership and registration has changed in recent years, and land issues delayed several major infrastructure projects coming into 2019. Kenya’s 2010 Constitution required all land leases to convert from 999 years to 99 years, giving the state the power to review leasehold land at the expiry of the 99 years, deny lease renewal, and confiscate the land if it determines the land has not been used productively.  The constitution also converted foreign-owned freehold interests into 99-year leases at a nominal “peppercorn rate” sufficient to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract. The GOK has not yet effectively implemented this provision. Work continues on the National Land Information Management System, but fully digitized, border-to-border cadastral data is still many years in the future.

The 2010 Constitution and subsequent land legislation created the National Land Commission, an independent government body mandated to review historical land injustices and provide oversight of government land policy and management.  This had the unintended side effect of introducing coordination and jurisdictional confusion between the commission and the Ministry of Lands. In February 2015, President Kenyatta commissioned the new National Titling Center with a promise to increase the 5.6 million title deeds issued since independence to 9 million.  According to the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, 8.6 million title deeds have now been processed. Land grabbing resulting from double registration of titles, however, remains prevalent. Property legally purchased and unoccupied can revert ownership to other parties.

Intellectual Property Rights

The major intellectual property enforcement issues in Kenya related to counterfeit products are corruption, lack of penalty enforcement, failure to impound imports of counterfeit goods at the ports of entry, and reluctance of brand owners to file a complaint with the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA).  The prevalence of “gray market” products – genuine products that enter the country illegally without paying import duties – also presents a challenge, especially in the mobile phone and computer sectors. Copyright piracy and the use of unlicensed software are also emerging challenges.

In an attempt to combat the import of counterfeits, the Ministry of Industrialization and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) decreed in 2009 that all locally-manufactured goods must have a KEBS standardization mark.  Several categories of imported goods, specifically food products, electronics, and medicines, must have an import standardization mark (ISM). Under this program, U.S. consumer-ready products may enter the Kenyan market without altering the U.S. label but must also carry an ISM.  Once the product qualifies for a Confirmation of Conformity, KEBS will issue the ISM free of charge.

Kenya is not included on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the World Intellectual Property Organization’s country profiles at  .


Executive Summary

The Government of Lesotho (GOL), through its National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), recognizes the critical role that domestic and foreign investment and the development of the private sector play in driving shared economic growth.  The government actively encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) in all areas of the economy, and it has earmarked four sectors (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Technology/Innovation, and Tourism/Creative Industries) as productive sectors with the potential to promote private sector-led sustainable and inclusive growth.  There are limited restrictions on foreign ownership of small businesses, and foreign investors enjoy the same rights and protections as Basotho investors. Lesotho’s standards of treatment and protection of foreign investors are good in practice, but the legal framework guaranteeing these norms remains weak. There is no foreign investment law, and there are limited bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to protect foreign investors and ensure their fair treatment.

Lesotho’s performance in attracting FDI has been credible by regional standards, particularly for a landlocked nation.  The country has a free-market economy with relatively open capital markets and an improving business climate. In recent years, FDI inflows have been mainly driven by investments in mining, textiles and apparel, manufacturing, construction, and water.  Lesotho currently enjoys temporary trade incentives under the United States’ African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). There are concerns as to how the export market will perform when AGOA expires in 2025.

Despite some political uncertainty, the investment climate is reasonably conducive to U.S. investment.  Lesotho, a relatively small market of only 2 million people, is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) market.  These memberships allow foreign businesses to use Lesotho as a gateway to larger regional markets.

The commercial legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are transparent and consistent with international norms.  While there has been recent alleged executive interference in the judiciary, this has not directly extended to the Commercial Court.  The judicial system remains a means for enforcing property and contractual rights, though a recent stoppage of the Court of Appeal and case backlogs have led to processing delays.  Lesotho has a written and consistently applied commercial law. A Commercial Court was established in 2010 with the support of a U.S. government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant in an effort to improve the country’s capacity in resolving commercial cases.  The Commercial Court is currently operational and has two judges and two mediators. The court heard approximately five cases related to foreign investors in 2018. Foreign investors have equal treatment before the courts in disputes with national parties or the government. The government has little history of investment disputes involving U.S. or other foreign investors or contractors in Lesotho, though in the past four years two foreign companies with government contracts have had disputes.

Corruption remains a problem in Lesotho.  Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act under the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006.

Lesotho is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and has ratified 23 international labor conventions, including all eight fundamental human rights instruments.  Lesotho’s Labor Code Order of 1992 and its subsequent amendments are the principal laws governing terms and conditions of employment in Lesotho. The law provides for freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.  The law stipulates that employers must allow union officials reasonable facilities for conferring with employees.

Lesotho has accomplished significant recent policy reforms, and the government plans to undertake further reforms.  The Land Act of 2010 and Land Regulations of 2011 reformed the land tenure system, allowing foreign investors to hold land titles as long as 20 percent of the company is owned by local investors.  The Land Act has also allowed the use of land as collateral which has expanded access to credit. The Act recognizes the right of women to hold title to land. Furthermore, under the Married Person’s Equality Act 2006, women are provided equal access to investment development and protections.  The Equality Act repeals the marital power that a husband had over his wife and her property, and confers equal powers on both spouses married in community of property.

The Companies Act of 1967, amended in 2011, also enables women to become promoters or directors of companies without having to seek their husbands’ consent.  The Act further reduced the time it takes to start a business from 40 days to 5 days and strengthened investor protections. In 2016, Lesotho launched a credit information bureau to improve credit market conditions and facilitate effective credit risk management by registered credit providers.  The country implemented the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) in 2018 which improved import and export processes. The government plans to relaunch the Investment Climate Reform Committee in the future.  The Committee will likely be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and be comprised of technical and policy players and will aim to make it easier to invest in Lesotho by coordinating investment issues.  A credit bureau is now operational to improve credit market conditions and facilitate effective credit risk management by registered credit providers.

The Payment Systems Regulations of 2017 are now in place to improve mobile money regulation in Lesotho.  A government e-portal launched in November 2018 now includes e-visa and e-customs services. In addition, the government established a formal dialogue with the private sector in 2018 through investor laboratories.  The outcome is an ambitious plan to launch 77 projects within five years to create an estimated 20,000 jobs. As a result of such reforms, Lesotho’s rank in the World Bank’s Doing Business report has improved from 153 in 2012 to 104 in 2019.

Despite progress in improving its attractiveness for FDI, Lesotho faces various investment constraints.  These include macroeconomic instability, limited access to credit, skills gaps, limited infrastructure, and policy uncertainty.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 78 of 175
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 106 of 190 
Global Innovation Index 2018 130/140 
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2017 USD 3
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 USD 1270

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

The GOL maintains a strong commitment to private investment and is generally open to FDI, with the exception of limited restrictions on foreign ownership of small businesses.  The GOL welcomes foreign investments that:

  • Create jobs and open new markets and industries in accordance with the national objective of diversifying Lesotho’s industrial base;
  • Improve skills and productivity of the workforce and nurture local business suppliers and partners;
  • Support knowledge and technology transfer and diffusion;
  • Improve the quality and accessibility of infrastructure.

Lesotho follows World Trade Organization (WTO) laws and regulations.  The government does not discriminate against foreign investors.  Foreign investors enjoy the same rights and protections as Basotho investors.  The government is aware of the challenges it faces as a small, landlocked, and least developed country in facilitating investment and expresses commitment to improving the climate for investment.

The GOL has undertaken several policy reforms in recent years to improve the investment climate in Lesotho.  The Land Act of 2010 allows foreign investors to hold land titles so long as the local investors own at least 20 percent of the enterprise.  The GOL also enacted the Companies Act of 2011, which strengthened investor protections by increasing the disclosure requirements for related-party transactions and improving the liability regime for company directors in cases of abuse of power related-party transactions.  In 2013, the government launched the Consumer Protection Policy.

Lesotho’s investment promotion agency, the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), is responsible for the initiation, facilitation, and promotion of Lesotho as an attractive investment destination.  LNDC also undertakes investment project appraisals, provides pre-investment and after care services, risk management, trade and investment research, and strategic planning. It also ensures investors’ compliance with the country’s legal frameworks.  Through LNDC, the government actively encourages investment in the following sectors: chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics and composites, energy and mining, environmental technologies, health technologies, textiles and apparel, sporting goods, and travel.  LNDC implements the country’s industrial development policies. LNDC also provides assistance through supportive services to foreign investors and publishes information on investment opportunities and the services it offers to foreign investors. Furthermore, it offers incentives such as long-term loans, tax incentives, factory space at discounted rental rates, assistance with work permits and licenses, and logistical support for relocation.  LNDC maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors by attending annual trade and investment forums both locally and internationally. For more information, please visit:  .

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Lesotho is open to foreign investment without case-by-case approval or a requirement for partial national ownership, with the exception of a defined number of small-scale businesses in certain sectors that are reserved exclusively for Lesotho citizens to encourage local entrepreneurship.  The activities reserved for local ownership under the Trading Enterprises Regulations of 2011 include: agent of a foreign firm, barber, butcher, snack-bar, domestic fuel dealer, dairy shop, general café or dealer, greengrocer, broker, mini supermarket (floor area < 250m2), and hair and beauty salon.  Foreigners are not permitted to own or sit on the boards of these businesses.    Despite the Trading Enterprises Regulations 2011, there appear to be a significant number of foreign-owned shops in reserved industries.  The Central Bank of Lesotho Act of 2000 stipulates a foreign investment minimum threshold of USD 250,000. The Mines and Minerals Act No.4 of 2005 restricts mineral permits for small-scale mining operations on less than 100m2 to local ownership.  Diamond mining, regardless of the size of the operation, is subject to the large-scale mines licensing regime, which has no restrictions on foreign ownership; however, the Government reserves the right to acquire at least 20 percent ownership in any large-scale mine.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry screens foreign investments in a routine, non-discriminatory manner to ensure consistency with national interests.  The lack of local entrepreneurs has meant the government is under no pressure to exclude foreign investment to the advantage of local investment, though some foreign companies have reported difficulties in obtaining work permits for expatriate staff.  No government approval is required, and there are almost no restrictions on the form or extent of foreign investment, except investment in small-scale retail and services businesses (see above).

Other Investment Policy Review

Lesotho’s investment policy was approved by Cabinet and became law in early 2016.  The policy was developed with assistance from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD  ).  The government has not undertaken any third-party investment policy reviews in the past three years.

Business Facilitation

To make it easier to do business and facilitate FDI, the government established a “One Stop Business Facilitation Centre” (OBFC), placing all services required for the issuance of licenses, permits, and imports and exports clearances under one roof.  OBFC services, coupled with the implementation of the Companies Act of 2011, have reduced the number of days it takes to start a business from 40 days to 3 days. The OBFC also hosts the Lesotho Trade Information Portal, a single online authoritative source of all laws, regulations, and procedures for importing and exporting.  The portal provides transparency and predictability to trade transactions and reduces the time and cost of trading across borders. The 2019 World Bank Doing Business report notes the country has begun initiatives to improve the business environment, particularly with cross-border trade, access to credit, contract enforcement, property transfers, and strengthening investor protections.  However, businesses still face issues with construction permits and obtaining electricity. The OBFC web site is  .  The website can be used by foreign investors to register their businesses from outside Lesotho.

The process of company registration includes: work permit application with the Ministry of Labor and Employment, visa application and resident permit with the Ministry of Home Affairs, trader’s license with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, tax clearance with Lesotho Revenue Authority, police clearance with the Ministry of Police and Public Safety, and medical clearance with the Ministry of Health.

In 2015, Lesotho established a platform to facilitate equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities — the financial inclusion project run by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Lesotho.  The project assists beneficiaries to form and register cooperations/associations, access finance, link them with relevant service providers, and negotiate tax incentives on their behalf. The Ministry of Finance, together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and local network providers, drafted the Financial Sector Strategy Development policy to help facilitate access to finance through mobile banking.  The project started in 2016 as one of government’s financial inclusion mechanisms.

Outward Investment

There are no incentives for or restrictions on outward investment.  The government facilitates quality standard processes and export permits for outward investment.  For AGOA exports, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, LNDC, and LRA provide support including on export requirements.  Other agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development Southern Africa Trade Hub provide capacity to the government for the implementation of AGOA.  The government has assigned Lesotho Standard Authority to provide assistance to investors who export to the Republic of South Africa (RSA).

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The right to private property is protected under the law.  All foreign and domestic private entities may freely establish, acquire, and dispose of interests in business enterprises.  Under the Land Act of 2010, foreign nationals are permitted to buy and hold land provided they have a local partner with at least 20 percent ownership.  Lesotho has no competition or overall competition regulator. The Industrial Licensing Act 1969, which allowed businesses to apply for protection against competition for up to 10 years, was repealed in 2014.

Secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced under the Land Act 2010.  The concept of a mortgage exists; and mortgages are protected under the Deeds Registry Act of 1967. Secured interests, including mortgages, are recorded and filed by the Deeds Registry.  Through the support of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the government of Lesotho significantly improved the process of registering land titles; peaking at 88 under the “Registering Property” index of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report in 2014.

Commercial banks are the only financial mechanisms/sources available in Lesotho for securitization of properties for lending purposes.  In cases in which land is accepted as collateral, the banks work with the Land Administration of Authority (LAA) to develop secured lending capabilities for investors.  LAA is an autonomous government body established to modernize and improve land administration and to reduce land transactions costs and the time it takes to acquire or dispose of a leasehold title to land.

All allocated land in Lesotho is held under title (Form C’s).  However, the Land Administration Act (LAA) encourages titleholders to register their titles into leases so they are recorded in a formal registration system.  LAA undertook a Scheme of Regularization in 2011 to assist title holders acquire leases. This followed the establishment of the LAA, funded by the U.S. Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).  Presently, LAA is awaiting publication of a Regularization Gazette to continue with regularization of land parcels, mainly for commercial plots in four urban areas of Berea, Botha-Bothe, Mohale’s Hoek, and Quthing.

Land titles (leases) as well as secondary land transactions (transfers, mortgages, subleases, and mining leases) are registered in the Deeds Registry and can be enforced in the Land Courts, Magistrate Courts, and High Court.  Mortgages are registered in the Deeds Registry, which serves as a reliable recording system. For more information please visit  .

Intellectual Property Rights

Legal structures to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) are relatively strong.  Investors complain that enforcement is somewhat weak, although infringements and theft are not common.  Lesotho respects international IPR laws and is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as well as the African Intellectual Property Organization.

Protection of IPR is regulated by the Industrial Property Order of 1989 and the Copyright Act of 1989, which conform to the standards set out in the Paris Convention and Berne Convention.  The laws protect patents, industrial designs, trademarks, and grant of copyright, but they do not protect trade secrets or semi-conductor chip lay-out design. The Law Office is responsible for enforcement of the Industrial Property Order, while the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture is responsible for enforcement of copyright (reflecting the law’s focus on protection of artistic works).  The Deeds Registry carries out registration.

Two bills with IP related regulations are yet to be passed in Lesotho Parliament.  The Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology in liaison with the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) have finalized the drafting of the Computer Crime and Cyber Security bill and the Electronic Transactions and Commerce bill.  If enacted, the bills will improve the protection of IPR by addressing cyber-crime and protecting electronic transactions.

Lesotho is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  .

Resources for Rights Holders

Contact at Mission:

Matt Jamrisko
Political and Economic Officer
+266 2231-2666

Local Lawyers List:

1st Floor, Metropolitan Building
Maseru, Lesotho
Tel.  : +266 22 314 986
Fax   : +266 22 310521


Executive Summary

Liberia has a free market system and the government welcomes foreign investment, despite structural challenges.  The economy primarily relies on the export of commodities such as gold, iron ore, and rubber as major sources of foreign exchange earnings.  The economy is further supported by foreign aid, foreign investment, and remittances from Liberians living abroad. There is a free-floating exchange regime with both the Liberian and United States dollar used as legal tender.  In 2018, real GDP growth was estimated at 1.2 percent led by the mining sector, as well as the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Average inflation was recorded at 28 percent, and the relative value of the Liberian dollar against the United States dollar decreased by 26 percent.  A commodities-based economy, Liberia still relies on imports for more than half of its cereal needs, including rice, Liberia’s most important staple food. Liberia recorded USD 1 billion in import payments versus USD 490 million in export earnings in 2018. Its major trading partners are Europe (mainly Switzerland), North America and the Caribbean (mainly the United States), and Asia (especially Middle Eastern countries).  In 2018, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) recorded USD 65 million in imports from the United States. In 2017, U.S. direct investment in Liberia was USD 874 million and Liberia’s direct investment in the United States stood at USD 448 million,

Key legal and regulatory instruments governing foreign direct investment in Liberia include the 2010 Investment Act, the Revenue Code, the Public Procurement and Concessions Act, and the National Competitive Bidding Regulations.  The Investment Act gives foreign investors the right to transfer profits outside Liberia and provides protection against expropriation, unlawful seizure, and nationalization. The National Investment Commission (NIC) is responsible for spearheading foreign investment promotion and negotiations.  In 2018, the government launched a Business Climate Working Group (BCWG) involving the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as some business representatives to explore prospects and challenges in the business environment. In an effort to improve the business climate, the BCWG held a March 2019 forum with the cross section of local business representatives entitled “Resolving Constraints to Trading across Borders,” which pertained to one of the World Bank’s ten doing business indicators.  An outcome of the forum was the removal of the Import Permit Declaration (IPD) as a requirement for importers. In 2018, Liberia passed into law the long-awaited Land Rights Act, the implementation of which will clarify land tenure and enhance community land rights. 

In Liberia, the business climate remains very challenging; corruption is endemic and a hindrance to investment.  Liberia lags in important measures such as contract enforcement. After what can be lengthy negotiations with the government, investors seeking long-term agreements or concessions frequently face resistance from local communities which claim that the government did not consult them before finalizing agreements.  Concessionaires and other private investors are often expected to provide employees and surrounding communities with a wide range of basic services not provided by the government, including education, healthcare, and housing. In 2018, a number of large foreign investors were subject to a high level of public criticism and review by the Legislature.  Despite systemic challenges, the government continues to expand and increase access to electricity throughout Liberia. They have achieved this through use of power supplied to the national grid from the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant, the West Africa Power Pool’s cross border electrification projects, and other internationally-supported energy projects.  

Key sectors that have historically attracted significant investment include mining, agriculture, forestry (timber), and financial services.  Key issues to watch for include opaque procedures for obtaining clear title to property, lack of adequate legal protection for contracts, a rise in single-source contracts in violation of procurement laws, limited awareness of intellectual property rights (IPR), corruption, poor physical infrastructure, and a weak and overburdened judicial system. 

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 120 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 174 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $874 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $630 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Generally, the government supports foreign investment.  In 2018, Liberia established a Business Climate Working Group (BCWG) to develop plans and strategies to improve the business environment.  However, progress in creating an attractive business-friendly climate is hampered by a weak legal and regulatory framework, corruption and lack of transparency in contract award processes, poor infrastructure, and low capacity of the private sector.  Clauses in the 2010 Investment Act prohibit and restrict market access for foreign investors, including U.S. investors, in certain economic sectors or industries. On January 30, 2019, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) announced a ban, which it has yet to implement, on the importation of certain commodities including nails, biscuits, and flour in an effort to protect domestic production of these items.  The National Investment Commission (NIC) is the investment promotion agency that creates investment strategies, designs investment policies, and executes investment programs including attracting foreign investment and negotiating investment contracts or concessions. The NIC, in collaboration with the BCWG, facilitates dialogue through formal business roundtables on investment climate issues. Some private sector groups, such as the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), regularly meet with investors and government officials to discuss and suggest solutions to critical policy issues.  However, in 2018, some business leaders in the LCC and other groups reported difficulties in obtaining meetings with government representatives to discuss policy changes that were perceived to negatively affect the business climate.

In April 2019, the President of Liberia issued Executive Order #96 to stimulate economic growth.  The order includes a provision that extends residence and work permits from one year to up to five years.  It also exempts commercial importers from seeking import permits and filing import permit declarations.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in various forms of remunerative activity.  In the Investment Act and Revenue Code, foreign investors have similar rights and are subject to similar duties and obligations as those that apply to domestic investors, with several notable exceptions.  The exceptions include clauses in the Investment Act that impose statutory limits on foreign ownership of, or entry into, 16 business activities/enterprises, and set minimum foreign capital investment thresholds in 12 others.  This law restricts ownership of the following business activities or enterprises exclusively for Liberians: (1) Supply of sand, (2) Block making, (3) Peddling, (4) Travel agencies, (5) Retail sale of rice and cement, (6) Ice making and sale of ice, (7) Tire repair shops, (8) Auto repair shops with investment of less than USD 550,000, (9) Shoe repair shops, (10) Retail sale of timber and planks, (11) Operation of gas stations, (12) Video clubs, (13) Operation of taxis, (14) Importation or sale of second-hand or used clothing, (15) Distribution in Liberia of locally manufactured products, and (16) Importation and sale of used cars (except authorized dealerships, which may deal in certified used vehicles of their make).  It also sets minimum capital investment thresholds for foreign investors in twelve other business activities, industries and enterprises. The Act further stipulates that, for enterprises owned exclusively by non-Liberians, the total capital invested shall not be less than USD 500,000; and for enterprises owned in partnership with Liberians, the aggregate shareholding of the Liberian partners must be at least 25 percent, and the total capital invested shall not be less than USD 300,000. In 2018, the legislature discussed but did not pass a draft “Business and Economic Empowerment Act,” which aimed to expand these requirements to additional sectors of the economy, increase the minimum capital threshold to USD 2 million, and require that Liberians hold at least 30 percent of senior management positions. 

While the Liberian constitution restricts land ownership to citizens, land acquisition by non-Liberians is possible through leasehold.  Foreign companies seeking to lease land have the option to lease privately or publicly held land. Frequently, foreign companies seeking to acquire land leases do so through direct negotiations with the relevant landlords/owners.  In September 2018, Liberia passed into law the long-awaited Land Rights Act which categorizes land ownership into public land, which is owned, but currently not used by the government; government land, which is used by government agencies (for office buildings or other purposes); customary land, on which the livelihoods of most rural communities depend; and private land, which is owned by private citizens.  In addition to strongly protecting community land rights, the new law ensures consistent land governance as well as legal certainty for every category of land ownership. The law is designed to resolve historical land problems that have caused conflicts and communal strife in the past. For the first time in history, the customary rights of Liberia’s village communities are protected by formal legislation. Implementation, which is currently underway, should result in significantly improved investment opportunities.

The government does not maintain investment screening mechanisms for inbound foreign investment.  There are no laws especially intended to disadvantage U.S. investors or single them out; generally, Liberians welcome U.S. investment as well as American products, which they consider to be of exceptional quality.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Neither the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development   (UNCTAD) nor the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has conducted an investment policy review for Liberia in the past three years.  In 2016, Liberia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), but the WTO has not yet conducted Liberia’s Trade Policy Review (TPR).

Link to a list of countries for which OECD, WTO (in context of a trade policy), and UNCTAD have conducted investment or trade policy reviews: percent20Policy percent20Reviews/Investment-Policy-Reviews.aspx  

Business Facilitation

All businesses are required to register with, and obtain authorization from, the Liberia Business Registry (LBR) to conduct business or provide services in Liberia.  LBR services are available to local and foreign companies at its head office in Monrovia. It does not provide an online registration platform and its website does not currently function.  According to the World Bank, it takes five procedures and 18 days to establish a business in Liberia,  .  Foreign companies must obtain investment approval from the National Investment Commission (NIC) if they would like to benefit from investment incentives.  Foreign companies must use local counsel when establishing a subsidiary and must provide notarized documents of the parent company. If a subsidiary is engaged in manufacturing and international trade, then it must obtain a trade license from the LBR, a process that can take an average of three days. 

Liberia is one of the few countries surveyed by the World Bank’s Investing Across Borders that does not make its commercial laws and regulations publicly available online.  There is no minimum paid-in capital requirement, except in regulated industries related to financial institutions, such as banking and insurance. More detailed information is available on the World Bank’s Investing Across Borders website:  .  The registration procedures and standards are the same for Liberian and foreign investors.

For long-term investment contracts, such as concessions, the National Investment Commission (NIC) is the statutory chair of an ad hoc cabinet-level Inter-Ministerial Concessions Committee (IMCC) that convenes often-lengthy bidding and negotiation processes.  Concessions are approved when ratified by the national legislature, signed by the President of Liberia, and printed into handbills by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) handles tax payment processes and administration. Social security issues are handled by the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP).  Websites for these agencies are found at:   and  


Outward Investment

The National Investment Commission (NIC) does not have a systematic, active mechanism or program to promote or incentivize outward investment.  There is no known restriction or policy limiting or preventing domestic investors from investing abroad. See the NIC’s website,  

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights and interests are legally protected under Liberian law; however, enforcement mechanisms are weak.  The Liberia Bank for Development and Investment   is the only bank currently lending for “long-term” (up to ten years) ventures in housing, including mortgage finance.  Land ownership in Liberia is restricted to Liberian citizens. Chapter III, Article 22, of the Liberian Constitution states:  “Every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others, provided that only Liberian citizens shall have the right to own real property within the Republic.  Private property rights, however, shall not extend to any mineral resources on or beneath any land or to any lands under the seas and waterways of the Republic.” Acquisition of land by foreign and/or non-resident investors is only possible through rent or leasehold.  Leases ordinarily run for 25-50 years, but exceptions are permitted under the law. Land ownership, lease, and use are governed by both statutory and customary laws. Rights to land ownership and use of resources such as minerals and timber have become increasingly critical issues in recent years, fueled by increased foreign investor interest and clashes between traditional and statutory land uses. 

Although the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) encourages property owners to identify and register land titles, it does not have systemic enforcement programs as part of its land governance and land administration functions.  The LLA estimates that less than 20 percent of the country’s total land is formally registered, conflicting land ownership records are common, and it is difficult to determine who may own real property. The U.S. Embassy is aware of unresolved concessions-related land disputes.  As firms commence operations, local communities may fear that their lands are being encroached upon, which can lead to disputes, strikes, and sometimes violence. In the interest of minimizing lost productivity and in the absence of government adjudication, companies often make additional community-level payments or agreements to resolve competing land claims.  The future enforceability of such agreements is unclear. Prospective investors should not underestimate the potential for costly and complex land dispute issues to arise even after concluding agreements with the government.

In September 2018, the government passed into law the land reform bill, the Land Rights Act, which classified land into four categorizes, namely: Public Land (owned but not currently used by the government), Government Land (used by state agencies for office buildings, etc.), Customary Land ( owned and used by rural communities for their livelihoods), and Private Land (owned by a private citizen).  The act protects communities in many ways including formally recognizing that rural communities own their land under customary law; it gives them legal standing to consent to awarding new contracts, empowering them to make decisions about how their land should be used. For the first time in Liberian history, the law guarantees legal certainty for every category of land ownership and provides the legal basis for resolving historical land problems that have caused conflicts over the years.  In the law, a community’s claim of ownership to customary land will be established by evidence including oral testimonies of community members, maps, signed agreements between neighboring localities and any other confirming documents.


Reference analysis from the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, including its country/economy’s ranking for ease of “registering property” (rankings available at:  ).

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Liberia’s IPR legal structure, regulatory environment, and protection and enforcement processes are weak.  IPR law enforcement is poor and rights infringements are common. The Liberia Intellectual Property Act covers such areas as domain names, traditional knowledge, transfer of technology, and patents/copyrights, etc.  The Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) operates as a semi-autonomous agency functioning under the administrative oversight of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). It lacks the capacity to address IPR infringements.  During the past year the government has not put in place new IPR-related laws or regulations. It does not have a system in place to track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods, figures or statistics on counterfeit good seizures are not available, and the government does not prosecute IPR violations.  The majority of Liberians are unfamiliar with IPR, and IP and industrial property rights infringement is prevalent, including unauthorized duplication of movies, music, and books. Counterfeit drugs, apparel, cosmetics, mobile phones, computer software, and hardware are sold openly. Liberia is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report.  Neither is Liberia listed in the notorious market report (see 2016 listings at: ).  For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IPR offices, see WIPO’s country profiles at


Executive Summary

Madagascar remains a challenging environment in which to do business according to foreign investors, but the country’s immense potential can provide significant returns on investment.  After years of sluggish growth, the economy expanded by 4.0 percent in 2016, 4.5 percent in 2017, and 5.0 percent in 2018, with an estimated 5.4 percent growth for 2019. For the first time in Madagascar’s history, the country has had back-to-back peaceful democratic transitions, and the new government, which took office in January 2019, has stated it will make fighting corruption a core element of its development plans.

Madagascar remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with a GDP per capita of USD 450 (2017), 40 percent lower than its GDP per capita in the 1960s.  Attaining the country’s development goals will depend on the enactment of structural reforms.  Foreign direct investment is below potential due to allegedly persistent corruption in the public and private sectors. Many companies have complained that lack of infrastructure (roads and electricity), lack of transparency in the award and oversight of public works projects, the opacity and inadequate management of the budget, the government’s inability or unwillingness to properly enforce regulations and laws, and the weak financial system all hold back both foreign and domestic investment.

Under President Rajoelina, the government has embarked on an ambitious development plan called the Malagasy Emergence Initiative (IEM).  National and global firms are cautiously optimistic, but many are waiting for further evidence that the government is indeed serious about combatting corruption, especially given the track record of Rajoelina’s government from 2009-2014.  The IEM includes plans to create industrial, agricultural, and special economic zones to encourage international and national investors. The Economic Development Board of Madagascar (EDBM) continues to carry out a number of reforms in order to improve the business environment and investment climate.

Despite the reportedly challenging context, business and investment opportunities exist for U.S. companies in energy, extractive industries, information and communication technology, tourism, construction, agribusiness, and light industry (e.g., apparel, footwear, home goods, and food).  Vanilla exports, extractive industries (ilmenite, nickel, cobalt), and textile ready-made exports have been the largest drivers of economic growth over the past five years.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 152 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 161 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 106 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2013 $57
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $400 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The president and his administration have underlined the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to advance economic development in Madagascar.  To help implement his IEM development plan, his government has begun a review of existing regulations and laws with the goal to speed up processes, including laws on public private partnership, industrial development, the mining code, oil and natural gas law, and rules on special economic zones.  Investors in the energy sector have expressed concerns over the review of existing energy contracts, and investors in the mining sector have been similarly concerned over possible revisions to the mining code.

Although the government welcomes foreign investment, several businesses have noted that the country faces many impediments that make investing in Madagascar a challenge.  These include weakness in the judicial system, the banking sector, the high cost but poor reliability of electricity, the entrenched corruption at all levels of government, and limited infrastructures.  With the multiplication of air and sea carriers/routes and the promotion and diversification of travel and tourism, the cost of air transportation has decreased progressively though it remains higher than in other regions of the globe.

The legislative framework governing investment in Madagascar has no discrimination against foreign investors, nor does it prohibit, limit, or condition foreign investments.  Any natural person or legal entity, Malagasy or foreign, is free to invest in Madagascar. In accordance with the laws on investment, both national and foreign investor reward equal treatment in any sector.  There is no discrimination against foreign investors at the time of the initial investment or after the investment is made (e.g., through special tax treatment, access to licenses, approvals, or procurement).

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

In general, no limit is set for foreign ownership or control in a company.  The law stipulates that investors, foreign or Malagasy, are free to hold up to 100 percent of shares of stock in the company in which they carry out their activities since the business is officially registered and complies with the set of relevant regulations in force.  However, according to law no. 2003-051, the privatization trust fund set up to manage sales of government minority stakes in formerly state-owned enterprises, can only make sales to Malagasy citizens and or/corporations having majority of their shares held by Malagasy nationals.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

None within last three years.  UNCTAD and WTO conducted reviews in 2015.

Business Facilitation

In 2006, Madagascar set up the Economic Development Board of Madagascar (EDBM), a one-stop shop for receiving, processing, and delivering the required administrative documents to speed up the approval of all investment projects. Its primary recommendation is for a foreign company seeking to start a business in Madagascar to consider collaborating with a local business.  Post recommends the retention of competent local counsel, especially shortlisted law firms. It is almost impossible to register in Madagascar without permanent residence or contact when difficulties arise.

Madagascar ranks 81th out of 190 in the World Banks’ Doing Business indicators for time to start a business, compared with 76th out of 189 last year.  The company registration process is among the shortest in Sub-Saharan Africa.  At the EDBM one-stop shop, companies can obtain their statistical card, tax registration confirmation, commercial registration number, and apply for visa, work permit or professional card.  They must also register for social security and health insurance at the same shop. Companies in Madagascar are free to open and maintain bank accounts in foreign currency. Madagascar has no dedicated investment promotion agency.  Some companies raise concerns that while it can be straightforward to start a business on paper, actually establishing a business that exists in function continues to take time, including a good amount of time in country.

EDBM assists closely both local and foreign investors in registering and operating their businesses.  The country’s business facilitation mechanisms provide equal treatment regardless of sex or minority in the economy.  No mechanism is set to provide special assistance to these group of persons.

Outward Investment

The Malagasy Government has set up an economic section within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the objective of supporting local businesses growth and increasing the exports done by companies registered in Madagascar‎.

The government does not offer any incentives to promote outward investment.  Wealthy operators, supposedly and secretly, have invested vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, reportedly cited in some paradise paper leakage.

Capital controls do not exist.  The mandatory repatriation mechanism of foreign currency resulting from international trading constitutes an indirect restriction on investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Upon independence, Madagascar continued the land tenure policies of the French colonial administration with the presumption of state ownership of all land and the central government being the sole provider of legitimate land titles.  However, due to the length and cost of the procedures for registering land, together with the remoteness of the authorities, customary practices for recognition of property rights prevailed at the local level. Recognition of property rights at this local level entailed the use of non-uniform, handwritten titles.  The Land Title Office in Antananarivo is the only place to obtain an official title whenever a locally registered business wants to acquire a large parcel of government land. Registering a land title or transfer remains difficult, costly, and time-consuming for those outside the capital.

In 2005, with the support of a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, the government embarked on a land reform project to simplify the registration process and to reconcile the existing formal and informal land titles.  The reform reversed the presumption of state ownership of land and introduced private ownership, while at the same time decentralizing land registration and recognizing/formalizing the existing local customs for social recognition of property rights.

The 2009 political crisis disrupted this reform process, leaving the country with approximately 10 percent of its existing land plots with formal title.  The majority of land ownership disputes are resolved at the local level without recourse to judicial proceedings. The small percentage of disputes that rise to the court system remain bogged down due to the complexity of the cases and the lack of clear evidence of ownership, and even when determinations are made, they are often not adequately enforced.

The Investment Law n°2007-036 provides foreign investors with authorization to access a real estate property through lease with a maximum duration of 99 years, renewable, so long as the concerned property serves exclusively and continuously to carry out commercial activity.  The law specifically prohibits the acquisition of land by foreign investors for resale in its original state, or for sale after its development.

Banks and insurance companies use mortgages and liens on commercial property to guarantee loans.

Over the past years, the government has re-initiated land reform with the intent to complete the process that was on standby since 2009.  By the end of 2017, the parliament adopted a new national land policy and act to redefine the status of every land. The purpose of the act is to determine the management of titled properties, the registration procedures for immovable property, and the procedure for restoring land documents.

Intellectual Property Rights

Protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is uneven in Madagascar.  Officially, authorities protect against infringement but, in reality, enforcement capacity is quite limited due to resource constraints, weakness of the judicial system, and a lack of awareness of IPR among consumers.  These constraints have led some international investors to experience difficulties enforcing their rights. For example, it is common to see pirated digital film or song sold in street markets.

The administration failed to enact IP-related laws or regulations over the past two years, although there is currently a reform bill working its way through Parliament.  The bill would incorporate The Hague (international registration of industrial designs) and Lisbon (protection of origin appellation and international registration) Agreements, as well as adopt international treaty classifications for patents, design and industrial models, and brands and figurative elements into the legislative framework.

Madagascar does not track or report seizures of counterfeit goods.  Counterfeit goods are widely seen in local markets. Media counterfeit and piracy is extremely common even though the lack of electricity and media playback devices limits the size of the market.

In 2017, Madagascar’s IP authority (“Office Malgache des Propriétés Industrielles” – OMAPI) signed an agreement with its Chinese counterpart for OMAPI to train Malagasy officers and to support each other in protecting brands and commercial names. The Chinese entity promised to donate a new office building and equipment to OMAPI.

Madagascar is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report, nor is it included in the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at .


Executive Summary

The Government of Malawi is eager to attract foreign direct investment.  Opportunities are plentiful for investors comfortable operating in frontier markets. The Malawi Investment and Trade Center’s One Stop Center offers assistance on how to navigate relevant regulations and procedures, a process that can be challenging without local knowledge.  In general, there are adequate legal instruments to protect investors. Foreign investors generally receive national treatment.

Political risk in Malawi is manageable given that the country has been largely free of political violence since gaining independence in 1964.  Although divisions exist, Malawi has no significant tribal, religious, regional, ethnic, or racial tensions that appear would lead to violent confrontation.

Agriculture accounts for one third of GDP and 80 percent of Malawi’s exports but growth in the sector lags due to infrastructure constraints.  Nonetheless, many opportunities exist for investment in the sector, particularly in agribusiness and agro processing. The United States Government concluded in 2018 a USD 350 million effort to rehabilitate generation, upgrade electrical transmission lines, and assist in policy reform to attract additional investment from independent power producers.

Although the Government of Malawi has made some efforts to combat corruption, it remains a major obstacle to investment in Malawi.  Scarcity of skilled and semi-skilled labor is another serious impediment to doing business in Malawi. Shortages are most acute in occupations such as financial management, economics, engineering, law, IT, and medicine/health.

Infrastructure investment lags in Malawi and, as a land-locked country, it depends on its neighbors for port access. Formal and informal trade boundaries restrict both imports and exports yet the economy is heavily reliant on imports.  While power infrastructure has improved, power outages remain a regularity.

There is an established mediation process to work with parties to overcome disputes and preempt court proceedings.  Both foreign and domestic investors have access to Malawi’s legal system, which functions well and in an unbiased manner but is known to be slow.

All investors have the right to establish, acquire, and dispose of interests in business enterprises.  Foreigners require a business residency permit to carry out any business activity in Malawi. All new land acquisitions are under leases.  Lease terms for foreigners may be limited to 50 years, compared to 99 years for Malawians.

The Government seeks to ensure the availability of foreign exchange for business transactions and remittances in order to attract investors and spur economic growth.  There are no restrictions on remittance of foreign investment funds as long as the capital and loans initially came from foreign sources and were registered with the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 120 of 180 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 111 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 114 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $37 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $320 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Malawi (GOM) desiresdomestic and foreign investment and generally grants national treatment to foreign investors.  Investors, both domestic and foreign, may invest in any sector of the economy, with no restrictions on ownership.

There are no restrictions on the size of investment, the source of funds, the investment sector, or on whether products are destined for export or for the domestic market.  However, the Malawi Stock Exchange limits an individual foreign investor to 10 percent of the shares of any one company during its initial public offering (IPO) and the aggregate of all foreign investors participating in the IPO is limited to 49 percent of shares.

The Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) is the GOM’s trade and investment promotion agency.  Established to promote Malawi as a destination for trade and investment, it maintains three websites (  ,, and  ) that provide information on potential sectors for investment and relevant regulations.  MITC also operates a One-Stop Service Centre in Lilongwe to help foreign and domestic businesses navigate relevant regulations and procedures.

The GOM encourages domestic and foreign investment with representatives participating in the Public Private Dialogue where participants discuss public service delivery and the investment climate. The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), a partnership of enterprises and associations representing all sectors of the economy of Malawi, lobbies the government on behalf of the private sector on relevant issues.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The GOM does not impose restrictions on the ownership or location of investment. It permits foreign direct investment in all sectors of the economy except for those sectors or activities that may pose a danger to health, the environment or the security of the nation. Restrictions are not imposed on funds source, destination or final product.  There is, however, a requirement to appoint at least two Malawian residents as directors of companies registered in Malawi.

There are some limitations on foreign ownership of land.  Under the Land Act of 2016, neither Malawians nor foreigners are able to acquire freehold land; foreigners are able to secure lease-hold land for terms up to 50 years, and potentially longer.  In addition, foreigners can only secure private land when no citizen has made an offer for the land.

During the privatization of government assets, Malawian nationals are offered preferential treatment, including discounted share prices and subsidized credit.  A 2017 amendment to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Bill includes an indigenization clause that calls for “the prioritization of all bids submitted to give preference to sixty percent indigenous black Malawians.”  The government has yet to draft implementing regulations to bring this into force.

There is no government policy to screen foreign direct investment.  However, such investors must register with the Malawi Investment and Trade Center (MITC, and with the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM,  ) if investment capital through any commercial bank in Malawi exceeds USD 50,000.  Registration of borrowed invested funds from overseas allows investors to externalize profits to pay back loans contracted abroad.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last preformed a periodic Trade Policy Review of Malawi in April 2016.  The full report and recommendations can be accessed at  

Business Facilitation

To facilitate the process of starting a business, the Malawi Investment and Trade Center (MITC) operates a One Stop Center.  It assists foreign and domestic investors of all sizes to navigate relevant regulations and procedures. It hosts representatives of the Registrar General, the Malawi Revenue Authority, the Department of Immigration, and the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development.  MITC’s main website (  ), the iGuides (  ), and trade portal (  ) provide further information.

In addition to MITC’s One Stop Center, businesses can register online at  .  However, the website is often inaccessible.  To operate in Malawi, a business must register with the Registrar General, the Malawi Revenue Authority and often the Ministry or regulatory body overseeing their sector of activity.  For example, construction companies need to register with the National Construction Industry Council.

Outward Investment

The mandate of MITC is to promote outward as well as inward investment.  However, MITC rarely facilitates outward-bound investment. The Pension Act of 2010 and accompanying regulations do not allow for the investment of pension funds or umbrella funds abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Malawi has laws that govern the acquisition, disposition, recording, and protection of all property rights (land, buildings, etc.), as well as intellectual property rights (copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.).  Currently, record keeping for registering land ownership is centralized and inefficient. Efforts are underway to computerize and decentralize recordkeeping.

Malawi has a limited housing finance sector.  As mortgage availability does not yet meet demand, most households still finance housing through savings or non-mortgage credit.  The lowest interest rate on a mortgage in Malawi as of January 2019 was 20 percent, with 10 percent down, the balance payable over 15-20 years.  The average mortgage size in Malawi is USD 17,632.

In 2016, Parliament passed a revised Land Act, which converted customary land tenure to leasehold title so that those currently using that land can have legal rights to it.  The new law prohibits freehold title going forward and all newly acquired land will be on a leasehold basis. Lease terms can be for up to 99 years, but the law generally restricts foreigners to 50-years.

The proportion of land without clear title in Malawi is considerable but the exact proportion is unclear.  According to the new Land Act 2016, Malawi has two categories of land, namely:

  •   Public land that comprises government land and unallocated customary land, and
  •   Private land that comprises freehold land, leasehold land, and customary estates.

The new Land Act prohibits granting of freehold to a person, but allows those that are already holding such land titles to continue. The Office of Commissioner of Lands administers and manages land issues such as making grants, leases and other dispositions.

The Land Act of 2016 gives provision to repossess private land under freehold title if the land sits idle for more than two years since registration.  However, the government has not repossessed land from a developer in any recentperiod.

Intellectual Property Rights

Malawi recognizes the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement but lacks the capacity to do so.  The Registrar General administers the Patent and Trademarks Act of 1948, which protects industrial IPR in Malawi. The Registrar General maintains a public registry of patents and patent licenses.  Patents must be registered. Trademarks are registered publicly following advertisement and a period of no objection.

Enforcement of IPR is inadequate.  However, general awareness of the importance of protecting IPR in all forms (copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and others) has improved.  The Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) administers the Copyright Act of 2016, which protects copyrights and “neighboring” rights in Malawi.

The Malawi Government approved Copyright (Levy on Storage Devices) Regulations in February 2018. Following the approval, COSOMA and the Malawi Revenue Authority began enforcement of a 5 percent levy on media storage devices to compensate rights holders.

While enforcement officials routinely seize counterfeit goods, Malawi does not have a systematic approach to track and report on such seizures so statistics are not available.

Malawi is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.


Executive Summary

Despite promising economic opportunities for U.S. firms and enthusiasm for U.S. investment, investors have complained of significant obstacles to investment in Mali, including unreliable electricity access, limited infrastructure, and corruption.  According to many businesses, terrorism, drug trafficking, and smuggling, primarily in the northern and central conflict-affected portion of the country, also inhibit investment. Some report that both Malian and foreign businesses face corruption in procurement, importation and export of products, tax payment, administrative processing, and land management.

Several foreign investors report that Mali’s security and political crisis stemming from the 2012 coup d’état is ongoing and exacerbates the already difficult investment climate.  Companies claim that continued instability in northern and central Mali has permitted terrorist groups to conduct attacks against Westerners and Malian government forces. Reports show that this instability, initially concentrated in the North, has extended to Mali’s center where terrorist groups are taking advantage of the minimal presence of Malian authorities and security forces.  Frequent deadly clashes between livestock herders and crop farmers further contribute to instability, according to U.S. companies.

Despite the ongoing security challenges being reported, Mali has experienced strong annual economic growth (near or exceeding 5 percent) since 2014.  Mali welcomes investors in the infrastructure, telecommunication, service, mining, and agricultural sectors. Mali continues to depend upon multilateral financial institutions including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, and bilateral donors for funding various development projects, mainly in health, infrastructure, education, and agriculture.  The investment climate benefits from the financial and economic reform processes that accompany this institutional lending.

The United States and Mali enjoy a strong bilateral relationship.  Malian businesses generally view U.S. products favorably and openly search for new partnerships with U.S. firms.  The Government of Mali remains committed to reforming the economy, including improving public financial management practices, increasing tax revenues, and the ongoing privatization of several state-owned enterprises.  Reforms to the mining code, petroleum products pricing, tax code, and investment code have yet to be completed, though some reforms are in progress. Despite recent reforms, the Government of Mali experienced considerable shortfalls in tax collection in 2018, mainly due to what several companies have identified as corruption, weak taxpayer compliance, and fraud.

The U.S. Department of State maintains a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” Travel Advisory warning against travel to Mali due to reported critically high risks from crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, especially in the Center and North of the country.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 120 of 175 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 145 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2018 112 of 126 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 N/A 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 USD 770 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Mali generally encourages foreign investment.  Foreign and domestic investments receive equal treatment.  The structural adjustment facility agreements signed between the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank and Mali since 1992 support foreign investment.  The government’s national strategy to fight poverty as presented to the IMF, World Bank, and other donors emphasizes the role of the private sector in developing the economy.  Mali adopted a new Strategic Framework for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development for 2019-2023, “le Cadre Stratégique pour la Relance Economique et le Développement Durable” (CREDD).  Emphasizing peace, security, and macroeconomic stability, the new CREDD hopes to strengthen economic growth, institutional development, governance, and the provision of basic social services. Mali maintains an office in charge of Business Climate Reforms, the Cellule Technique de la Réforme du Climat des Affaires (CTRCA), tasked with developing an action plan for improving the business environment.  In 2015, Mali also created a committee comprising both government and private business for Monitoring Business Environment Reforms. Mali is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which aim to reduce trade barriers, harmonize monetary policy, and create a common market.

The Malian government has instituted policies promoting direct investment and export-oriented businesses.  Foreign investors go through the same screening process as domestic investors. Criteria for granting authorization under the 2012 investment code include the size of the proposed capital investment, the use of locally produced raw materials, and the level of job creation.

Mali maintains a one-stop shop for prospective investors, the Agency for Investment Promotion (Agence pour la Promotion de l’Investissement or API).  A law on public-private partnerships approved by the National Assembly in 2016 aims to reinforce the framework to attract foreign and domestic investment in a multitude of sectors.

In 2011, the government created an export promotion agency (APEX-Mali) to promote and encourage export-oriented activities.  APEX-Mali is fully functional. The Government of Mali has also revitalized an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) committee to encourage exports to the United States.  The AGOA committee developed a National AGOA Strategy to help Malian exporters better utilize the market preferences provided under AGOA.

U.S. investors report to face the same challenges as other foreign investors do, including allegedly unfair application of tax collection laws, difficulties clearing goods through customs, and requests for bribes.  Third parties report that corruption in the judiciary is common and foreign companies often find themselves at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Malian investors in enforcing contracts and competing for public procurement tenders.

Additional information can be found in the 2019 Doing Business Report on Mali:  .

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises with no restriction to forms of remunerative activities.  There are some specific limits on ownership in the mining and media sector. For example, foreign investors in the mining sector can own up to 90 percent of a mining company.  Foreign investors in media companies must have a 50 percent or lower ownership stake. WAEMU requires Malian and foreign companies to report if they will hold foreign currency reserves in their Malian business accounts and receive approval from the Ministry of Economy and Finances and the Central Bank for West African States (BCEAO). 

Other Investment Policy Reviews

No information is available on other investment policy reviews.

Business Facilitation

The Agency for Investment Promotion (API) is Mali’s one-stop shop to facilitate business and to promote foreign and local investments.  Serving both Malian and foreign enterprises of all sizes, API has become a strong source of potential support for U.S. investors.

API’s website (  ) provides copious information ranging from business registration, tax payment, access to social security, trade regulations, land ownership procedures, visa and residence permit regulations, and information on tax exemptions, special economic zones, recruitment of personnel, and connecting to water and electricity utilities.

Foreign companies, regardless of size, wishing to register in Mali can receive tax and customs benefits depending on the size of investment.  Small and medium sized enterprises, for which the size definition varies across ministries, are also eligible for fiscal advantages. The Government of Mali is in the process of harmonizing its registration advantages.  There is no discrimination based on gender, age, or ethnicity in the process of business registration.

The World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report notes that it takes an average of five procedures and 11 days to establish a business in Mali.  The Government of Mali publishes the incorporation notices of new companies on the official API website. The mining code encourages investments in small and medium mining enterprises, awards two-year exploration permits free of charge, and does not require a commitment from the exploring firm to lease the area explored thereafter.

Additional information on Mali’s online business registration processes is available at  .

Outward Investment

The Government of Mali has no policy to promote outgoing investment.  A few Malian companies invest in neighboring countries and in France.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights are protected by law in Mali.  Ownership of property is defined by the use, the profitability, and the ability of the owner to sell or donate the property.  According to data collected by the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, registering property in Mali requires five steps, takes 29 days, and costs 11.1 percent of the property value.  Mali scored 8 against 8.8 for other Sub-Sahara African countries and 23 for OECD countries in the quality of land administration index, 0 being the worst score and 30 the best. The government established the Malian Center for the Promotion of Industrial Property and charged it with implementing the legal regime of property rights protection, including the WTO TRIPS agreements.  This agency is a member of the African Property Rights Organization (IAPO) and works with international agencies recognized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are covered. These structures notwithstanding, property rights are not always adequately protected in practice.

According to the National Land Agency (Direction Nationale des Domaines et du Cadastre or DNDC), there are three types of land property classifications in Mali.  There is a land title (le titre foncier), which gives full property ownership to an individual. Secondly, there is a permit for occupancy that one receives after paying a fee (permis d’occuper), but not full ownership.  Lastly, there are farming rights given to rural agricultural communities. All non-registered lands belong to the state. Various government entities including prefets, mayors, governors, and Land Ministry officials are able to allocate land ownership statuses.

The current lack of a nationwide land registry causes competing claims for land.  As different government structures at the local, regional, and national level are involved in land administration, investors and communities often encounter multiple attributions of the same land.   As a result, frequent conflicts occur because of ambiguous land registration. In June 2015, the Minister of Land ordered the demolition of 50 houses built on land belonging to a real estate company in the locality of Souleymanebougou.  In 2018, the government ordered the demolition of houses built on lands allocated by the state for the construction of housing projects in N’Tabacoro.

Intellectual Property Rights

There are two primary agencies involved with the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR):  the Malian Office of the Rights of the Author (BUMDA) and the Malian Center for the Promotion of Intellectual Property (CEMAPI).  The CEMAPI is the primary agency for industrial property rights violation claims, while the BUMDA covers artistic and cultural works.

In 2014, the Government of Mali adopted a National Strategy for the Development of Intellectual Property Rights (SNDPI).  However, the strategy has been insufficiently funded and thus implementation has been minimal. Despite limited progress with a National Strategy, IPR has been weakened and is the object of fierce debate.  In February 2015, the Supreme Court canceled an Executive Order on Copyrights, which sought to update copyright laws to include modern technology. The National Council of Malian Employers (Conseil National du Patronat) considered this Executive Order to be too broad in that it created royalties, which the business community interpreted as taxes on cybercafés, phone companies, and internet downloading sites.  In March 2016, the Council of Ministers adopted a new draft law related to IPR with the support of well-known artists. In 2016, a number of international treaties referenced in the new intellectual property law were voted on by the National Assembly to align the national jurisdiction with international requirements. In 2017, the National Assembly voted on the new law on IPR, which resulted from a dialogue between the Government of Mali, the National Council of Employers, and artist associations.  The law builds upon consensus of international norms, including the Beijing Treaty of June 24, 2004 (rights on interpretations and executions of audiovisual works), the Marrakesh Treaty of June 27, 2013 relating to the access to printed texts for the visually impaired, and the fourth meeting of regional copyrights observatory of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held in Banjul on May 2013. More broadly, the law determines the conditions of protecting and exploiting works of art, licensing fees, sanctions, and remunerations.

There is a significant number of reported IPR violations in the artistic sector as well as in the pharmaceutical sector.  According to the Malian National Pharmaceutical Association, nearly 50 percent of pharmaceuticals sold in Mali are counterfeit.  The BUMDA conducts weekly searches and seizures of markets for pirated artistic products and, on average, seizes three to four thousand CDs each week.  Movies and books are also reported to be pirated. Several companies have noted that children are often involved in selling counterfeit products such as clothes, CDs, and books.  In the past, counterfeit products were imported from foreign cities, including Guangzhou and Dubai. However, BUMDA has seen a shift in the type of counterfeit product to ones being produced in Mali and Nigeria.

A U.S. company had been mired in a three-year long legal battle with a Chinese company that was accused of infringing on the U.S. company’s trademark rights.  Despite a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court, the case was remanded to a lower court in 2010, and the U.S. company decided not to pursue the case further.

Mali is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.