An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Ethiopia

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 https://www.transparency.org/country/ETH
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 159 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii-2018-report#
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2018 $600 http://www.investethiopia.gov.et/
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $740 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

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 (https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/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: http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/ethiopia  
http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/ethiopia#DB_sb  

Outward Investment

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

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Ethiopia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and it has bilateral investment and protection agreements with Algeria, Austria, China, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Finland, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen.  Other bilateral investment agreements have been signed but are not in force with Belgium/Luxemburg, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, India, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Ethiopia signed a protection of investment and property acquisition agreement with Djibouti. A Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, which entered into force in 1953, governs economic and consular relations with the United States.

Ethiopia is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a regional economic block, which has 21 member countries.  The body has introduced a 10 percent tariff reduction on goods imported from member states. However, Ethiopia has not yet joined the COMESA free trade area.

In 2019 Ethiopia ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, to pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.  Ethiopia is the 21st country to sign the agreement, with just one more country needing to ratify to make AfCFTA operational.

There is no double taxation treaty between the United States and Ethiopia.  Ethiopia has such taxation treaties with fourteen countries, including Italy, Kuwait, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Israel, South Africa, Sudan, and the United Kingdom.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Ethiopia’s regulatory system is generally considered fair, though there are instances in which burdensome regulatory or licensing requirements have prevented the local sale of U.S. exports, particularly health-related products.  Investment decisions can involve multiple government ministries lengthening the registration and investment process.

The Constitution is the highest law of the country.  The Parliament enacts proclamations, which are followed by regulations that are passed by the Council of Ministers, and implementing directives that are passed by ministries or agencies.  The government engages the public for feedback before passage of draft legislation through public meetings, and regulatory agencies request comments on proposed regulations from stakeholders.  Ministries or regulatory agencies do neither impact assessment for proposed regulations nor ex-post reviews. Parties that are affected by an adopted regulation can request reconsideration or appeal to the relevant administrative agency or court.  But there is no requirement to periodically review regulations to see whether they are still needed or should be revised.

All proclamations and regulations in Ethiopia are published in official gazettes and most of them are available online http://www.hopr.gov.et/web/guest/122   and https://chilot.me/federal-laws/2/  

Legal matters related to the federal government are entertained by Federal Courts while state matters go to state courts.  To ensure consistency of legal interpretation and promote predictability of courts, the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division is empowered to give binding legal interpretation on all federal and state matters.  Though there are no publicly listed companies in Ethiopia, all banks and insurance companies are obliged to adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

Regulations related to human health and environmental pollution are often enforced.  In January 2019, the Federal and Oromia State Environment, Forest and Climate Changes Commissions shut down three tanneries in Oromia state for what was said to be repeated environmental pollution offenses.  The government also suspended the business license of MIDROC Gold Mine in May 2018 following weeks of protests by local communities who accused the company of causing health and environmental hazard in the Oromia regional state.  In February 2019, the Ethiopian parliament passed a bill entitled ‘Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation,’ which bans smoking in all indoor workplaces, public spaces, and means of public transport and prohibits alcohol promotion on broadcasting media.

Ethiopia is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures  .  Foreign and national investors can find detailed information from the investment commission website http://www.investethiopia.gov.et/investment-process   and https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/ethiopia   on administrative procedures applicable to investment and income generating operations including the number of steps, name, and contact details of the entities and persons in charge of procedures, required documents and conditions, costs, processing time, and legal bases justifying the procedures.

The government released its five year public finance administration strategic plan (2018-2022) in March 2018, mapping out reforms in government revenue and expenditure forecasting, government accounts management, internal audit, public procurement administration, public debt management, and public financial transparency and accountability.  In support of this initiative, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) issued a directive on Public Financial Transparency and Accountability in October 2018. The directive mandates that all public institutions report their budgetary performance and financial accounts in platforms that are accessible to the wider public in a timely manner. It also makes the MOF responsible for disseminating a regular and detailed physical and financial performance evaluation of large publically-funded projects.  The directive further outlines a clear timeline for the publication of each major piece of budgetary information, such as the pre-budget macroeconomic and fiscal framework, the enacted budget, quarterly execution reports, annual execution reports, and the annual audit report.

International Regulatory Considerations

Ethiopia ratified the AfCFTA on March 21, 2019.  ACFTA aims to create a single, continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.  Ethiopia is also a member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a regional economic block, which has 21 member countries and has introduced a 10 percent tariff reduction on goods imported from member states.  However, Ethiopia has not yet joined the COMESA free trade area. Ethiopia resumed the WTO accession process in 2018, which began in 2003, with the goal of acceding in 2020.

Ethiopian standards, however, have a national scope and applicability and some of them, particularly those related to human health and environmental protection, are mandatory.  The Ethiopian Standards Agency is the national standards body of Ethiopia.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Ethiopia has codified criminal and civil laws, including commercial and contractual law.  According to the contractual law, a contract agreement is binding between contracting parties.  Disputes between the parties can be taken to the court. There are, however, no specialized courts for commercial law cases, although there are specialized benches both at the federal and state courts.

While there have been allegations of executive branch interference in judiciary cases with political implications, there is no evidence of interference in purely commercial disputes.  The country has a procedural code for civil and criminal court but the practice is minimal. Enforcement actions are appealable and there are at least three appeal processes from the lower courts to the Supreme Court.  The Criminal Procedure Code follows the inquisitorial system of adjudication.

Companies that operate businesses in Ethiopia assert that courts lack adequate experience and staffing, particularly with respect to commercial disputes.  While property and contractual rights are recognized, judges often lack understanding of commercial matters, including bankruptcy and contractual disputes.  In addition, cases often face extended scheduling delays. Contract enforcement remains weak, though Ethiopian courts will at times reject spurious litigation aimed at contesting legitimate tenders.

Ethiopia is in the process of reforming the Commercial Code to bring it in line with international best practices.  The draft legislation appears to address many concerns raised by the business community, including the creation of a commercial court under the regular court system to improve the expertise of judges as well as increase the speed with which commercial disputes can be resolved.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Investment Proclamation and Regulation of 2012 (later amended in 2014), is Ethiopia’s main legal regime related to foreign direct investment (FDI).  These laws instituted the opening of economic sectors to FDI, the requirements for FDI registration, and the investment incentives that are available to investors.

The following industrial sectors have been designated investment priorities: textiles and garments, leather and leather products, sugar and sugar-related products, cement, metals and engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, and agro-processing.  Investments in those areas receive tax and duty incentives as established in Proclamation 769/2012  .

The 2014 amendment to the Investment Proclamation authorizes the EIC to adjudicate appeals submitted by foreign and domestic investors.  The EIC Investment Board is empowered to authorize the granting of new or additional incentives other than those outlined under the regulations and to authorize foreign investment in areas otherwise exclusively reserved for domestic investors, if the exception is in the national interest.  The EIC’s website  (http://www.investethiopia.gov.et/  ) outlines the government’s policy and priorities, registration processes, and provides regulatory details for investors.  In addition, the Ethiopian Investment Guide website (https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/ethiopia  ) provides relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors.

The revised Commercial Registration and Business Licensing Proclamation eliminated some cumbersome and duplicative requirements, including the yearly renewal of business registrations and the minimum capital requirements to set up limited liability companies, and requires a competency certificate in sectors such as health, security and environment.  The Proclamation allows registration of franchises and holding companies.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Ethiopia’s Trade Practice and Consumers Protection Authority (TPCPA), operating under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is tasked with promoting a competitive business environment by regulating anti-competitive, unethical, and unfair trade practices to enhance economic efficiency and social welfare.  It has an administrative tribunal with a jurisdiction on matters pertaining to market competition and consumer protection. The authority also annually entertains many cases associated with consumer protection and unfair trade practices.

There are no restrictions for foreign companies or foreign-owned subsidiaries in the areas open to foreign investments.  The EIC reviews investment transactions for compliance with FDI requirements and restrictions as outlined by the Investment Proclamation and its amendments. Nonetheless, companies have complained that SOEs receive favorable treatment in the government tender process.  The public sector’s heavy involvement in economic development means that SOEs often obtain a sizeable portion of open tenders.

Expropriation and Compensation

Per the 2012 Investment Proclamation, no investment by a domestic or foreign investor or enterprise can be expropriated or nationalized, wholly or partially, except when required by public interest in compliance with the law and with payment of adequate compensation.  Such investments may not be seized, impounded, or disposed of except under a court order.

The former Derg military regime nationalized many properties in the 1970s.  The current government’s position is that property seized lawfully by the Derg (by court order or government proclamation published in the official gazette) remain the property of the state.  In most cases, property seized by oral order or other informal means is gradually being returned to the rightful owners or their heirs through a lengthy bureaucratic process. Claimants are required to pay for improvements made by the government during the time it controlled the property.  Public Enterprises, Assets, and Administration stopped accepting requests from owners for return of expropriated properties in July of 2008.

According to local and foreign businesses operating in the Oromia region, there have been a number of isolated incidents threatening investors in the region.  Various pretexts have been used to close down legitimate operations. False charges have been filed with regional courts, property has been confiscated, and bank accounts have been frozen, all in the name of “returning the land” to the “rightful owners” or “creating job opportunities” for the youth.  Regional officials, however, deny any systematic attack on investors and have repeatedly provided assurance that all legitimate investors will be protected. Meanwhile, other investors who have invested heavily in government and community relations and actively engaged local and regional officials have prospered.  The experience of investors is overall uneven and clear trends are not evident.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Since 1965, Ethiopia has been a non-signatory member state to the International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) Convention, but has not ratified the convention on The Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The constitution as well as the investment law guarantees the right of any investor to lodge complaints related to his/her investment with the appropriate investment agency.  If he/she has a grievance against the decision, he/she can appeal to the investment board or to the respective regional agency as appropriate. While disputes can be resolved by international arbitration if both parties agree, enforcement of an arbitration decision is contingent on the Ethiopian court system.  However, if a dispute arises between foreign investors and the state, it will be settled based on the relevant bilateral investment treaty.

Due to an overloaded court system, dispute resolution can last for years.  According to the 2019 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, it takes on average 530 days to enforce contracts through the courts.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Arbitration has become a widely used means of dispute settlement among the business community as Ethiopian civil code recognizes Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms as means of dispute resolution.  The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce has an Arbitration Center to assist with arbitration. However, there is no guarantee that the award of an international arbitral tribunal will be accepted and implemented by Ethiopian authorities.  Ethiopia is not a party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards, which creates uncertainty for potential investors and serves as disincentive to invest. There are no publicly available statistics that indicate courts’ decision bias towards state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on investment/commercial disputes that involve them.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Ethiopian Commercial Code (Book V) outlines bankruptcy provisions and proceedings and   establishes a court system that has jurisdiction over bankruptcy proceedings. The primary purpose of the law is to protect creditors, equity shareholders, and other contractors.  Bankruptcy is not criminalized. In practice, there is limited application of bankruptcy procedures due to lack of knowledge on the part of the private sector.

According to the 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report, Ethiopia stands at 148 in the ranking of 190 economies with respect to resolving insolvency.  Ethiopia’s score on the strength of insolvency framework index is 5.0. (Note: The index ranges from zero to 16, with higher values indicating insolvency legislation that is better designed for rehabilitating viable firms and liquidating nonviable ones.)

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Investment Regulation 270/2012 and the 2014 amendment outline incentives for investors.  New investors in manufacturing, agro-processing, and selected agricultural products are entitled to income tax exemption ranging from two to five years depending on the location of the investment.  Any investor who produces for export or supplies to an exporter, or who exports at least 60 percent of his products or services, is entitled to an additional two years of income tax exemption.

An investor who establishes a new enterprise in less prosperous areas shall be entitled to an income tax deduction of 30 percent for three consecutive years after the expiry of the regular income tax exemption period.  These areas include Gambella, Benshangul/Gumuz, Afar (except in areas within 15 kilometers from each bank of the Awash River), Somali, Guji, Borena Zones of Oromia, South Omo Zone, Segen, Bench Maji Zone, Sheka Zone, Dawro Zone, Kaffa Zone, Konta, and Basketo Special Woredas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

Ethiopian investment laws provide protection and guarantees to local and foreign investors.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Industrial Park Proclamation 886/2015 mandates Ethiopian Industrial Parks Corporation to develop and administer industrial parks owned by government.  The law designates industrial parks as duty-free zones, and domestic as well as foreign operators in the parks are exempt from income tax for up to 10 years.  Investors operating in parks are also exempt from duties and other taxes on the import of capital goods, construction materials, and raw materials for production of export commodities and vehicles.

An investor who operates in a designated Industrial Development Zone in or near Addis Ababa is entitled to two years of income tax exemptions, and four more years income tax exemption if the investment is made in an industrial park in other areas, provided 80 percent or more of production is for export or constitutes input for an exporter.

Industrial Parks can be developed by either government or private developers.  In practice, the majority have been developed by the Ethiopian government with Chinese financing.  The government has announced plans to construct a total of 17 industrial parks in various locations around the country.  As of April 2019, operational industrial parks include Hawassa Industrial Park, Bole Lemi-I, East Industrial Park, George Shoe Park, Meleke Industrial Park,  Kombolcha Industrial Park, Adama Industrial Park and Debreberhan Industrial Park.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Ethiopia does not formally impose performance requirements on foreign investors, though investors in Ethiopia routinely encounter business visa delays and onerous paperwork requirements.  In addition, investors are required to allocate a minimum capital of USD 200,000 per project. For joint investments with a domestic partner, the investment requirement is lowered to USD 150,000.

There are no forced localization or data storage requirements for private investors.  Local content in terms of hiring, products, and services is strongly encouraged but not required.  The Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs issues residence permits for those with investment permits.  The government also provides multiple entry five year visas for investors in industrial parks. An investor can employ qualified expatriate experts necessary to operations, but is responsible for replacing them by local experts within a limited period.  Top management positions are exempted from this requirement and ex-patriates can fill these positions indefinitely. Although not a legal requirement, in joint ventures with state-owned enterprises investors report informal requirements of up to 30 percent domestic content in goods and/or technology.

EthioTelecom is the sole telecommunications service provider in Ethiopia. In 2018, the government announced plans to liberalize the sector and open the market to foreign service providers.  In February of 2019, the Council of Ministers approved a bill to establish a regulatory agency for communication services that would adequately regulate the telecommunications sector and open it to foreign investment; the bill is awaiting approval by the Parliament.  Proclamation No. 808/2013 mandates the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) to control the import and export of information technology, to build an information technology testing and evaluation laboratory center, and to regulate cryptographic products and their transactions.

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 http://www.eipo.gov.et/  

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

http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=ET  

Embassy POC: Economic Officer, Helena Schrader, USEmbassyPolEconExternal@state.gov

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Credit is tight and banks often require 100 percent collateral, making access to credit one of the greatest hindrances on the Ethiopian economy writ large.  A 2011 measure requiring non-government banks to invest the equivalent of 27 percent of their loan disbursement portfolio in National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) bonds has exacerbated liquidity shortages.

Ethiopia does not have securities markets, and sales/purchases of debt are heavily regulated.  The government is drafting legislation to regulate the over-the-counter market for private share companies.  In March 2019, Moody’s reaffirmed Ethiopia’s credit worthiness at ‘B1 stable,’ while S&P and Fitch maintained their original rating of ‘B.’  According to Moody’s, Ethiopia’s credit profile reflects its very high levels of economic growth; strong investment in infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing; and, low debt-servicing costs set against challenges that include external vulnerability risks and internal stability problems.  Moody’s expects Ethiopia’s economy to grow by approximately 8 percent over the next few years. It puts external vulnerability, geopolitical risk, continued social unrest, and the vulnerability of its relatively small economy to weather cycles and volatility in coffee and gold prices as the key credit challenges going forward.  Conversely, successful export diversification, the smooth and timely completion of infrastructure programs, improved business conditions, a structural reduction of external vulnerabilities leading to a steady accumulation of foreign exchange reserves, and a cessation of domestic and regional geopolitical tensions would all improve Ethiopia’s credit profile.

The Ethiopian government has announced, as part of the overall economic reform effort, its intention to liberalize the financial sector, to include introducing capital markets, opening the banking sector to foreign companies, expanding credit available to the private sector, enabling a system of e-commerce, and expanding the monetary policy tools available to the NBE.  While most outside observers believe that PM Abiy Ahmed and other key economic officials are sincere in their intentions, entrenched interests, low capacity, and financial constraints will likely delay the full implementation of these goals.

The government offers a limited number of 28-day, 3-month, and 6-month Treasury bills, but prohibits the interest rate from exceeding the bank deposit rate.  The government began to offer a one-year Treasury bill in 2011, with yields currently below 3 percent. This market remains unattractive to the private sector and 100 percent of the T-bills are held by public enterprises, primarily the Public Social Security Agency and the Development Bank of Ethiopia.  The NBE plans to introduce a market for government securities, corporate bonds, and a stock market.

In December 2014, Ethiopia issued its first eurobond, raising USD 1 billion at a rate of 6.625 percent.  The 10-year bond was oversubscribed, indicating continued market interest in high-growth sub-Saharan African markets.  According to the Ministry of Finance, the bond proceeds are being used to finance industrial parks, the sugar industry, and power transmission infrastructure.  Due to an increasing external debt load, the Ethiopian government has committed to refrain from non-concessional financing for new projects and to shift ongoing projects to concessional financing when possible.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), launched in 2008, trades commodities such as coffee, sesame seeds, maize, wheat, mung beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and green beans.  The government launched ECX to increase transparency in commodity pricing, alleviate food shortages, and encourage the commercialization of agriculture. Critics allege that ECX policies and pricing structures are inefficient compared to direct sales at prevailing market rates, triggering an amendment to the ECX law in July 2017, which eliminated a number of criticized regulations, and permitted the trading of financial instruments at a future date.  This amendment paves the way for securities markets in the future using the framework of the commodities exchange.

Money and Banking System

Ethiopia has seventeen commercial banks, two of which are state-owned banks, and fifteen of which are privately owned banks.  The Development Bank of Ethiopia, a state-owned bank, provides loans to investors in priority sectors. In September 2011, the NBE raised the minimum paid-up capital required to establish a new bank from ETB 75 million to 500 million, which effectively stopped the entry of most new banks.  Foreign banks are not permitted to provide financial services in Ethiopia; however, since April 2007, Ethiopia has allowed some foreign banks to open liaison offices in Addis Ababa to facilitate credit to companies from their countries of origins. Chinese, German, Kenyan, Turkish, and South African banks have opened liaison offices in Ethiopia, but the market remains completely closed to foreign retail banks.

Based on recently made available data, the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia mobilizes more than 60 percent of total bank deposits, bank loans, and foreign exchange.  The NBE controls the bank’s minimum deposit rate, which now stands at 7 percent, while loan interest rates are allowed to float. Real deposit interest rates have been negative in recent years, mainly due to inflation.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

All foreign currency transactions must be approved by the NBE.  Ethiopia’s national currency (the Ethiopian birr) is not freely convertible.  In September 2018, the GOE removed the limit on holding foreign currency accounts faced by non-resident Ethiopians and non-resident foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin.

Foreign exchange reserves were heavily depleted in 2012 and have remained at critically low levels since then.  By June 2018, gross reserves were USD 2.2 billion, covering approximately 1.6 months of imports. According to the IMF, heavy government infrastructure investment, along with debt servicing and a large trade imbalance, have all fueled the intense demand for foreign exchange.  In addition, the decrease in foreign exchange reserves has been exacerbated by weaker-than-expected earnings from coffee exports and low international commodity prices for other important exports such as gold and oil seeds. Businesses encounter delays of six months to two years in obtaining foreign exchange, and they must deposit the full equivalent in birr in their account to begin the process to obtain foreign exchange.  The foreign exchange crunch has intensified recently, with delays of more than a year reported. Slowdowns in manufacturing due to foreign exchange shortages are common, and high-profile local businesses have closed their doors altogether due to the inability to import required goods in a timely fashion.

Although government policy gives the repatriation of profits “priority,” in reality, due to the foreign exchange shortage, companies have experienced delays of up to two years in the repatriation of larger volumes of profits.  Local sourcing of inputs and partnering with export-oriented partners are strategies employed by the private sector to address the foreign exchange shortage, but access to foreign exchange remains a problem that limits growth, interferes with maintenance and spare parts replacement, and inhibits imports of adequate raw materials.

The foreign exchange shortage distorts the economy in a number of other ways: it fuels the contraband trade through Somaliland because birr is an unofficial currency there and can be used for the purchase of products from around the world.  Exporters, who have priority access to foreign exchange, sell their allocations to importers at inflated rates, creating a black-market for dollars that is roughly 33 percent over the official rate. Other exporters use their foreign exchange earnings to import consumer goods with high margins rather than re-investing profits in their core business.  Meanwhile, the lack of access to foreign exchange impacts the ability of American citizens living in Ethiopia to pay their taxes, or for students to pay school fees abroad.

According to data from NBE, the birr depreciated approximately 98 percent against the U.S. dollar between August 2010 and February 2018, primarily through a series of controlled steps, including a 20 percent devaluation in September 2010 and a 15 percent devaluation in October 2017.  As of March 2019, the official exchange rate was approximately 28.40 birr per dollar. The illegal parallel market exchange rate for the same time was approximately 36 per dollar with spikes up to 38 birr per dollar.

Following the 15 percent devaluation of the Ethiopian birr, the NBE increased the minimum saving interest rate from four percent to seven percent, and limited the outstanding loan growth rate in commercial banks to 16.5 percent, which limits their loan provision for businesses other than export and manufacturing sectors.  Moreover, banks were instructed to transfer 30 percent of their foreign exchange earnings to the account of NBE so the regulator can use the foreign exchange to meet the strategic needs of the country, including payments to procure petroleum and sugar, as well as to cover transportation costs of imported items.

Ethiopia’s Financial Intelligence Unit monitors suspicious currency transfers, including large transactions exceeding ETB 200,000 (roughly equivalent to U.S. reporting requirements for currency transfers exceeding USD 10,000).  Ethiopia citizens are not allowed to hold or open an account in foreign exchange. Ethiopian residents entering the country from abroad should declare their foreign currency in excess of USD 1,000 and non-residents in excess of USD 3,000. Residents are not allowed to hold foreign currency for more than 30 days after acquisition.  A maximum of ETB 1000 in cash can be carried out of the country.

Remittance Policies

Ethiopia’s Investment Proclamation allows all registered foreign investors, whether or not they receive incentives, to remit profits and dividends, principal and interest on foreign loans, and fees related to technology transfer.  Foreign investors may remit proceeds from the sale or liquidation of assets, from the transfer of shares or of partial ownership of an enterprise, and funds required for debt servicing or other international payments. The right of expatriate employees to remit their salaries is granted by NBE foreign exchange regulations.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Ethiopia has no sovereign wealth funds.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate major sectors of the economy.  There is a state monopoly or state dominance in telecommunications, power, banking, insurance, air transport, shipping, railway, industrial parks, petroleum importing, and sugar sectors.   State-owned enterprises have considerable advantages over private firms including priority access to credit and customs clearances. While there are no conclusive reports of credit preference for these entities, there are indications that they receive incentives, such as priority foreign exchange allocation, preferences in government tenders, and marketing assistance.  Ethiopia does not publish financial data for most state-owned enterprises, but Ethiopian Airlines and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia have transparent accounts.

Ethiopia is not a member to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and does not adhere to the guidelines on corporate governance of SOEs.  Corporate governance of SOEs is structured and monitored by a board of directors composed of senior government officials and politically-affiliated individuals, but there is a lack of transparency in the structure of SOEs.

Privatization Program

In July 2018 the government announced the intention to privatize a minority share of Ethiopian Airlines, EthioTelecom, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, and power generation projects, and to fully privatize sugar projects, railways, and industrial parks.  The privatization program will be implemented through public tenders and will be open to local and foreign investors. The background work for the privatization in several sectors is underway, including asset valuation of the enterprises, standardization of the financial reports, and establishment of modernized legal and regulatory frameworks.

The government has sold more than 370 public enterprises since 1995, mainly small companies in the trade and service sectors, which were largely nationalized by the Derg military regime in the 1970s.  Currently, twenty two SOEs are under the Public Enterprise, Assets, and Administration Agency.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Some larger international companies in Ethiopia have introduced corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs; however, most Ethiopian companies do not officially practice CSR, although individual entrepreneurs engage in charity, sometimes on a large scale.  There are efforts to develop CSR programs by the Ministry of Industry in collaboration with the World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other institutions.

The government encourages CSR programs for both local and foreign direct investors but does not maintain specific guidelines for these programs, which are inconsistently applied and not controlled or monitored.  In early 2015, the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectorial Associations published a ‘Model Code of Ethics for Ethiopian Businesses’ that was endorsed by former Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome as a model for the business community.

Ethiopia was admitted as a candidate-member to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2014, but has not embraced the need for independent, non-governmental organizations and civil society to be engaged in the process.  As a result, full-membership during the next scheduled review in 2019 remains uncertain. Per the Commercial Code, extractive industries and other businesses are expected to conduct statuary audits of their financial statements at the end of each financial year, though the financial statements are not available to the public, only to financial institutions and share companies.

9. Corruption

The Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) is charged with preventing corruption and is accountable to the Office of the Prime Minister.  The Commission is mandated to provide ethics training and education to prevent corruption.  The investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes are the mandates of the Federal Police Commission and the Federal Attorney General, respectively.

The Federal Police are mandated to investigate corruption crimes committed by public officials as well as “Public Organizations.”  The latter are defined as any organs in the private sector that administer money, property, or any other resources for public purposes.  Examples of such organizations include share companies, real estate agencies, banks, insurance companies, cooperatives, labor unions, professional associations, and others.

Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption, rated Ethiopia’s corruption at 34 (the score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero to 100, with the former indicating highly corrupt and the latter indicating very clean).  Its comparative rank in 2018 was 114 out of 180 countries, compared to 107 out of 180 countries in 2017.

In December, the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia polled its members and asked what the leading business climate challenges were.  Transparency and governance ranked as the 4th leading business climate challenge, ahead of licensing and registration and public procurement.

Ethiopian and foreign businesses routinely encounter corruption in tax collection, customs clearance, and land administration.  Many past procurement deals for major government contracts, especially in the power generation, telecommunications, and construction sectors were widely viewed as corrupt.

PM Abiy Ahmed has launched a corruption clean-up that has resulted in several hundred arrests.  In connection with the embezzlement schemes involving hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars, particularly with government procurement irregularities, the government arrested and charged in September 2018 over 40 mid- and senior-level Metal Engineering Technology Corporation (METEC) officials.  In addition, the PM transferred the management of large government projects from METEC (which is widely viewed by the public as corrupt) to other government organizations. Similarly, in April 2019, the government arrested 59 officials and business people suspected of corruption. The officials are primarily from the following government institutions: Public Procurement & Property Disposal Service, Food & Drug Administration Agency, Pharmaceuticals Fund & Supply Agency, and the Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise.

Ethiopia is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.  Ethiopia is a signatory to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Ethiopia is also member of the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities.  In 2003, Ethiopia signed the UN Anticorruption Convention that was ratified in November 2007.  It is a criminal offense to give or receive bribes, and bribes are not tax deductible.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contacts at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Federal Police Commission
Addis Ababa
+251 11 861-9595

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Transparency Ethiopia
Addis Ababa
+251 11 827-9746
Email: TiratEthiopia@gmail.com

10. Political and Security Environment

Ethnic conflict —often sparked by historical grievances or resource competition, including land disputes— has resulted in varying levels of violence that have internally displaced as many as two million people nationwide.  Communal conflict between Oromos and Somalis has persisted along their shared border.  Remnants of the Oromo Liberation Front, an opposition movement, have battled ethnic neighbors, regional security forces, and the military.  In the south, conflict between communities in the Guji and Gedeo zones has been particularly violent and intractable.  Disputed territory in the north between the Amhara and Tigray regions is a continuing flash point.  Recent violence between Oromos and Amharas has occurred along a main road from Addis Ababa to the north.

Under PM Abiy’s administration, political space in Ethiopia has opened dramatically.  Constitutional rights, including freedoms of assembly and expression, are broadly respected.  Political prisoners have been released. Opposition parties have been allowed to form or return to the country, and they operate freely. Independent media is re-establishing itself, and laws are being revised to facilitate the rebuilding of civil society.  Nationwide elections are scheduled for May of 2020.  The electoral and pre-electoral period could represent a potential catalyst for unrest.

PM Abiy has also initiated a process of modernization, de-politicization, professionalization, and civilian accountability in his security services.  The past year provides numerous examples where security forces have allowed demonstrators space to operate peacefully.  In some instances, though, security forces have failed to stop ethnic violence in a timely fashion.  Though foreigners are rarely, if ever, specifically targeted, spillover ethnic violence has occasionally resulted in the deaths of foreign employees.

The new administration has also increased regional autonomy.  Successful American investors tell us that understanding the different business climates across the regions—there are different regional taxation regimes, unique ethnic conflicts, varying levels of reception towards profit-making companies, and contrasting approaches to policing and security issues—is key to successfully investing in Ethiopia.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

More than 80 percent of Ethiopia’s 100 million people work in agriculture.  The second-most important employer is the government. If the population continues to grow at the current rate of 2.5 percent, Ethiopia will have more than 138 million people by 2030, only 27 percent of whom will live in urban areas.  Ethiopia’s youth, between the ages of 15 and 29, account for 30 percent of the population; 70 million Ethiopians are under the age of 30. The youth unemployment rate in urban settings is over 25 percent (CSA, 2018). The gender gap in employment is high; the unemployment rate among young women in urban areas is over 30 percent, compared with 19 percent for young men.  Young women are three times more likely to be neither in employment, education, or training (NEET). According to International Labor Organization (ILO) statistics, Ethiopia’s youth NEET accounts for 10.5 percent of the youth population (5.7 percent for men, 15.1 percent for women).

Although labor remains readily available and inexpensive in Ethiopia, skilled manpower is scarce.  Approximately 50 percent of Ethiopians over the age of 15 are illiterate according to UNESCO’s definition.  Primary school enrollment rate (age 7 to 14), on the other hand, has now reached 94 percent. To increase the skilled labor force, the GOE has undertaken a rapid expansion of the university system in the last 20 years, increasing the number of higher public education institutions from three to 49.  It has adopted an education policy that requires 70 percent of public university students to study science, engineering, or technology subjects, but many students are not well-prepared by secondary school to study in those fields.

Ethiopia has ratified all eight core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.  The Ethiopian Criminal Code outlaws work specified as hazardous by ILO conventions. There is no national minimum wage, and public sector employees – the largest group of wage earners – earned a monthly minimum wage of ETB 420 (approximately USD 19).

Labor unions and confederations are separate entities from the government, and are subject to a great deal of regulation and direct pressure/involvement from the government.  The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) comprises well over two hundred thousand members in enterprise-based unions in a variety of sectors, but there is no formal requirement for unions to join the CETU.  Much of the labor force remains in small scale agriculture/industry and thus is not covered by enterprise unions. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ Directorate of Harmonious Industrial Relations provides labor dispute resolution services, although the caseload and the directorate’s capacity are low.

The Constitution and other laws provide workers, except for civil servants and certain categories of workers primarily in the public sector, with the right to form and join unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively.  Other laws and regulations that explicitly or potentially infringe upon workers’ rights to associate freely and to organize include: the Civil Society and Organizations (CSO) law; Council of Ministers Regulation No. 168/2009 on Charities and Societies to reinforce the CSO law; and, Proclamation No. 652/2009 on Antiterrorism.  Parliament recently approved a revised CSO law and the antiterrorism law is in the revision process. Such laws and detailed requirements make legal strike actions difficult to carry out. In practice, labor strikes are rare, but there has been an uptick in the last year. Employers offering contracted employment are required to provide severance pay.  The vast majority of employees that work in small scale agriculture and textiles, however, do so without a contract. Large labor surpluses and lax labor law enforcement allow employers to retain employees without contracts that ensure strong worker protections.

The GOE drafted revisions to the Labor Code that will bring Ethiopian labor law into better conformity with international labor standards.  The draft law is currently before the Council of Ministers; once approved, it will proceed to the Parliament for approval. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) claimed that the draft legislation includes language to form a tripartite council to set a national minimum wage and that the ILO has conducted a wage study to help inform the council’s decision.  It is unclear what, if any, language is included to address gaps related to the right to organize, bargain collectively, and associate freely.

Although the government actively engages with the international community to combat child labor and human trafficking, which includes forced/coerced labor, both remain widespread in Ethiopia.  The Ethiopian Parliament ratified ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in May 2003. While not a pressing issue in the formal economy, child labor is common in the informal sector, including construction, agriculture, textiles, manufacturing, mining, and domestic work.  Child labor is present in both urban and rural areas. According to the ILO International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor, more than 50 percent of Ethiopia’s child laborers work in the agriculture sector. Ethiopian traditional woven textiles are included on the U.S. government’s Executive Order 13126 list of goods that have been known to be produced by forced or indentured child labor.  Both NGO and Ethiopian government sources concluded that goods produced (in the agricultural sector and traditional weaving industry in particular) via child labor are largely intended for domestic consumption, and not slated for export. Employers are prohibited from hiring children under the age of 14, and for certain types of hazardous work the minimum age is 18. Ethiopia has a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, which it is currently updating.  The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs conducts tens of thousands of targeted inspections on occupation safety and standards, although they are not legally empowered to assess fines for infractions and they do not make this data publically available. Due to the shortage of labor inspectors and other enforcement resources, and the fact that inspectors do not inspect informal work sites, most child labor goes unreported.

In 2015, the Ethiopian Parliament ratified an overhaul to its Anti-Human Trafficking and Smuggling criminal code (covered in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons report published by the Department of State).  The government also passed an Overseas Labor Proclamation that legalizes and regulates the employment of Ethiopians in foreign countries. The Government of Ethiopia lifted the ban of overseas employment of domestic workers in the Gulf States in January 2018.  In 2018 preparations were underway to register employment agencies, develop pre-departure materials and centers, identify government and private vocational enters, and provide skills training for domestic workers. A year later, it is still unclear that lifting the ban will decrease the flow of irregular migration due largely to the lengthy and costly process required for regular migration.  Over the past few years, the government has become much more engaged in combatting trafficking in persons, and the number of arrests and prosecutions of traffickers has increased.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has offered risk insurance and loans to U.S. investors in Ethiopia in the past, but is not currently present in Ethiopia.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2017/18 $84,356 2017 $80,561 www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2018 $600  2018 N/A http://www.investethiopia.gov.et/  
Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) 2017 N/A 2017 N/A http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2018 10.6% 2017 23.6% http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

*National Bank of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Investment Commission


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment From/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars*, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $8,930  100% Total Outward*** N/A N/A
China $2,219  24.9% N/A N/A N/A
Saudi Arabia $1,525  17.1% N/A N/A N/A
Turkey $917  10.3% N/A N/A N/A
India $719 8.1% N/A N/A N/A
EU** $685 7.7% N/A N/A N/A
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Data regarding inward direct investment are not available for Ethiopia via IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS) site (http://data.imf.org/CDIS  ) so we have used data from Ethiopian investment Commission.

*The yearly average exchange rate is used for each year from 1992-2017 to convert the amount of FDI from domestic currency into USD.
** EU includes Netherlands, France, Ireland, Germany and UK.
*** Total Outward investment data are not available.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data regarding the equity/debt breakdown of portfolio investment assets are not available for Ethiopia via the IMF’s Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS) and are not available for external publication from the Government of Ethiopia.

14. Contact for More Information

U.S. Embassy main number is +251 011 130 6000.

Economic Officer, USEmbassyPolEconExternal@state.gov

Kenya

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 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 61 of 190 www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 78 of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $405 http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $1,460 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

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 (http://www.investmentkenya.com  ).  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 (http://kenya.eregulations.org/?l=en  ).

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 infotrade.gov.ke, 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 (http://www.businesslicense.or.ke/  ) 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 (https://agpo.go.ke/).

An investment guide to Kenya, also referred to as iGuide Kenya, can be found at http://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/kenya/about#  .  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.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

BITs or FTAs

In 2018, Kenya did not sign any new BITs or FTAs with other countries.  Kenya’s BIT with Japan was signed in 2016 and came into force in 2017. Kenya’s BIT with the Republic of Korea was signed in 2014 and entered into forced in 2017.

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

The United States does not have a free trade agreement, bilateral investment treaty, or bilateral taxation treaty with Kenya.  Kenya, however, is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a U.S. trade preference and export promotion policy, which Congress renewed in 2015 for an additional 10 years.  Under AGOA, Kenyan exporters enjoy duty-free access to U.S. markets for products falling under more than 6,400 tariff lines. Kenya’s primary exports to the United States under AGOA are apparel and accessories, coffee, tea, and nuts.  According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 Economic Survey, apparel exported under AGOA decreased to USD 327 million in 2017, down 4.6 percent from USD 344 million in 2016. Kenya, however, remains the largest textile exporter under AGOA.  In 2019, the United States and Kenya established a bilateral Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) to deepen trade and investment ties between the two countries, including exploratory talks on a future bilateral trade and investment framework.

The GOK has trade facilitation agreements (TFA) through the WTO, EAC Customs Union Protocol, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Protocol on FTA, and the EU-EAC economic partnership agreement.  The nine COMESA FTA member countries are Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The other 10 COMESA countries that are not part of the FTA trade with Kenya on preferential terms, observing tariff reductions between 60 and 80 percent.  The status of EU-EAC economic partnership agreement is unclear at this time because of the failure of Tanzania and Uganda to renew the agreement in 2016 and 2017.  Kenya is continuing to participate in negotiations towards an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to establish the largest free-trade areas since the formation of the WTO.

According to World Bank and Price Waterhouse Coopers’ 2018 Paying Taxes Report, Kenya improved marginally in the ease of paying taxes, rising to 91 in 2018. The report shows that a medium sized company in Kenya pays a total tax rate of 37.2 percent, 9.8 percent less than the sub Saharan Africa average of 47 percent and below the global average of 40.4 percent.  The iTax system launched by the Kenya Revenue Authority in mid-2015 has reduced tax compiling time from 186 hours in 2016 to 180 in 2017, compared to the global average of 237 hours. Kenya, however, still performs poorly in the post-filing index, which measures value-added tax (VAT) refunds and corrections made to corporate income tax returns, scoring only 59.6 out of 100 in post-filing efficiency.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Kenya’s regulatory system is relatively transparent and continues to improve.  Proposed laws and regulations pertaining to business and investment are published in draft form for public input and stakeholder deliberation before their passage into law (http://www.kenyalaw.org/   and http://www.parliament.go.ke/the-national-assembly/house-business/bills-tracker  ).  Kenya’s business registration and licensing systems are fully digitized and transparent while computerization of other government processes to increase transparency and close avenues for corrupt behavior is ongoing.

The 2010 Kenyan Constitution requires government to incorporate public participation before officials and agencies make certain decisions.  The draft Public Participation Bill (2018) would provide the general framework for such public participation. The Ministry of Devolution has produced a guide for counties on how to carry out public participation; many counties have enacted their own laws on public participation.  The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999) incorporates the principles of sustainable development, including public participation in environmental management. The Public Finance Management Act mandates public participation in the budget cycle. The Land Act, Water Act, and Fair Administrative Action Act (2015) also include provisions providing for public participation in agency actions.

Many GOK laws grant significant discretionary and approval powers to government agency administrators, which can create uncertainty among investors.  While some government agencies have amended laws or published clear guidelines for decision-making criteria, others have lagged in making their transactions transparent.  Work permit processing remains a particular problem, with overlapping and sometimes contradictory regulations. American companies have complained about delays and non-issuance of permits that appear compliant with known regulations.

International Regulatory Considerations

Kenya is a member state of the East African Community (EAC), and generally applies EAC policies to trade and investment.  Kenya operates under the EAC Custom Union Act (2004) and decisions on the tariffs to levy on imports from countries outside the EAC zone are made at the EAC Secretariat level.  The U.S. government engages with Kenya on trade and investment issues bilaterally and through the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership. Kenya also is a member of COMESA and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

According to the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2016, Kenya is a leader in regional integration policies within these regional blocs, with strong performance on regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people, and financial and macro-economic integration.  The GOK maintains a Department of East African Community Integration within the Ministry of East Africa and Northern Corridor. Kenya generally adheres to international regulatory standards. The country is a member of the WTO and provides notification of draft technical regulations to the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).  Kenya maintains a TBT National Enquiry Point at http://notifyke.kebs.org  .  Additional information on Kenya’s WTO participation can be found at https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/kenya_e.htm  .

Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are transparent and consistent with international norms.  Publicly listed companies adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that have been developed and issued in the public interest by the International Accounting Standards Board.  The board is an independent, private sector, not-for-profit organization that is the standard-setting body of the IFRS Foundation. Kenya is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The legal system is based on English Common Law, and the 2010 constitution establishes an independent judiciary with a Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Constitutional Court, and High Court.  Subordinate courts include: Magistrates, Khadis (Muslim succession and inheritance), Courts Martial, the Employment and Labor Relations Court (formerly the Industrial Court), and the Milimani Commercial Courts – the latter two of which both have jurisdiction over economic and commercial matters.  In 2016, Kenya’s judiciary instituted specialized courts focused on corruption and economic crimes. There is no systematic executive or other interference in the court system that affects foreign investors, however, the courts face allegations of corruption, political manipulation, and long delays in rendering judgments.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (2012) provides for the enforcement of judgments given in other countries that accord reciprocal treatment to judgments given in Kenya.  Kenya has entered into reciprocal enforcement agreements with Australia, the United Kingdom, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Seychelles. Outside of such an agreement, a foreign judgment is not enforceable in the Kenyan courts except by filing a suit on the judgment.  Foreign advocates are not entitled to practice in Kenya unless a Kenyan advocate instructs and accompanies them, although a foreign advocate may practice as an advocate for the purposes of a specified suit or matter if appointed to do so by the Attorney General. The regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and are adjudicated in the national court system.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Competition Act (2010) created the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK).  All mergers and acquisitions require the CAK’s authorization before they are finalized, and the CAK regulates abuse of dominant position and other competition and consumer-welfare related issues in Kenya.  In 2014, CAK imposed a filing fee for mergers and acquisitions set at one million Kenyan shillings (KSH) (approximately USD 10,000) for mergers involving turnover of between one and KSH 50 billion (up to approximately USD 500 million).  KSH two million (approximately USD 20,000) will be charged for larger mergers. Company takeovers are possible if the share buy-out is more than 90 percent, although such takeovers are rarely seen in practice.

Expropriation and Compensation

The 2010 constitution guarantees protection from expropriation, except in cases of eminent domain or security concerns, and all cases are subject to the payment of prompt and fair compensation.  The Land Acquisition Act (2010) governs due process and compensation in land acquisition, although land rights remain contentious and can cause significant project delays.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Kenya is a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, also known as the ICSID Convention or the Washington Convention, and the 1958 New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.  Regarding the arbitration of property issues, the Foreign Investments Protection Act (2014) cites Article 75 of the Kenyan Constitution, which provides that “[e]very person having an interest or right in or over property which is compulsorily taken possession of or whose interest in or right over any property is compulsorily acquired shall have a right of direct access to the High Court.”

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

There have been very few investment disputes involving U.S. and international companies.  Commercial disputes, including those involving government tenders, are more common. The private sector cites weak institutional capacity, inadequate transparency, and inordinate delays in dispute resolution in lower courts.  The resources and time involved in settling a dispute through the Kenyan courts often render them ineffective as a form of dispute resolution.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The government does accept binding international arbitration of investment disputes with foreign investors.  The Kenyan Arbitration Act (1995) as amended in 2010 is anchored entirely on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law.  Legislation introduced in 2013 established the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA), which seeks to serve as an independent, not-for-profit international organization for commercial arbitration, and may offer a quicker alternative to the court system.  In 2014, the Kenya Revenue Authority launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism aiming to provide taxpayers with an alternative, fast-track avenue for resolving tax disputes.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Insolvency Act (2015) modernized the legal framework for bankruptcies.  Its provisions generally correspond to those of the United Nations’ Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency.  The act promotes fair and efficient administration of cross-border insolvencies to protect the interests of all creditors and other interested persons, including the debtor.  The act repeals the Bankruptcy Act (2012) and updates the legal structure relating to insolvency of natural persons and incorporated and unincorporated bodies. Section 720 of the Insolvency Act (2015) grants the force of law to the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Creditors’ rights are comparable to those in other common law countries, and monetary judgments typically are made in Kenyan shillings.  The Insolvency Act (2015) increased the rights of borrowers and prioritizes the revival of distressed firms. The law states that a debtor will automatically be discharged from debt after three years.  Bankruptcy is not criminalized in Kenya. Kenya moved up 38 ranks in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2019 report, moving to 57 of 190 countries in the “resolving insolvency” category.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The minimum foreign investment to qualify for GOK investment incentives is USD 100,000, a potential deterrent to foreign small and medium enterprise investment, especially in the services sector.  Investment Certificate benefits, including entry permits for expatriates, are outlined in the Investment Promotion Act (2004).

The government allows all locally-financed materials and equipment for use in construction or refurbishment of tourist hotels to be zero-rated for purposes of VAT calculation – excluding motor vehicles and goods for regular repair and maintenance.  The National Treasury principal secretary, however, must approve such purchases. In a measure to boost the tourism industry, one-week employee vacations paid by employers are a tax-deductible expense. The 2015 amendments to Kenya’s VAT rules clarified some items that are VAT exempt.  In 2018, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) exempted from VAT certain facilities and machinery used in the manufacturing of goods under Section 84 of the East African Community Common External Tariff Handbook. VAT refund claims must be submitted within 12 months of purchase.

The government’s Manufacturing Under Bond (MUB) program encourages manufacturing for export.  The program provides a 100 percent tax deduction on plant machinery and equipment and raw materials imported for production of goods for export.  The program is also open to Kenyan companies producing goods that can be imported duty-free or goods for supply to the armed forces or to an approved aid-funded project.  Investors in metal manufacturing and products and the hospitality services sectors are able to deduct from their taxes a large portion of the cost of buildings and capital machinery.

The Finance Act (2014) amended the Income Tax Act (1974) to reintroduce capital gains tax on transfer of property located in Kenya.  Under this provision, gains derived on the sale or transfer of property by an individual or company are subject to tax at rates of at least five percent.  Sales and transfer of property related to the oil and gas industry are taxed up to 37.5 percent. The Finance Act (2014) also reintroduced the withholding VAT system by government ministries, departments and agencies.  The system excludes the Railway Development Levy (RDL) imports for persons, goods, and projects; the implementation of an official aid-funded project; diplomatic missions and institutions or organizations gazetted under the Privileges and Immunities Act (2014); and the United Nations or its agencies.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Kenya’s Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ) offer special incentives for firms operating within their boundaries.  By the end of 2016, Kenya had 65 designated EPZs, with 91 companies and 52,019 workers contributing KSH 63.1 billion (about USD 622 million) to the Kenyan economy.  Companies operating within an EPZ benefit from the following tax benefits: a 10-year corporate-tax holiday and a 25 percent tax thereafter; a 10-year withholding tax holiday; stamp duty exemption; 100 percent tax deduction on initial investment applied over 20 years; and VAT exemption on industrial inputs.

About 54 percent of EPZ products are exported to the United States under AGOA.  The majority of the exports are textiles – Kenya’s third largest export behind tea and horticulture – and more recently handicrafts.  Eighty percent of Kenya’s textiles and apparel originate from EPZ-based firms. Approximately 50 percent of all firms in the zones are fully-owned by foreigners – mainly from India – while the rest are locally owned or joint ventures with foreigners.

While EPZs are focused on encouraging production for export, SEZs are designed to boost local economies by offering benefits for goods that are consumed both internally and externally.  SEZs will allow for a wider range of commercial ventures, including primary activities such as farming, fishing, and forestry. The 2016 Special Economic Zones Regulations state that the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA) must maintain an open investment environment to facilitate and encourage business by the establishment of simple, flexible, and transparent procedures for investor registration.  The rules also empower county governments to set aside public land for establishment of industrial zones.

Companies operating in the SEZs will receive the following benefits:  all SEZ supplies of goods and services to companies and developers will be exempted from VAT; the corporate tax rate for enterprises, developers, and operators will be reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent for the first 10 years and 15 percent for the next 10 years; exemption from taxes and duties payable under the Customs and Excise Act (2014), the Income Tax Act (1974), the EAC Customs Management Act (2004), and stamp duty; and exemption from county-level advertisement and license fees.  There are currently SEZs in Mombasa (2,000 sq. km), Lamu (700 sq. km), and Kisumu (700 sq. km). The Third Medium Term Plan of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development agenda calls for a study for an SEZ at Dongo Kundu, and an SEZ was also under consideration at a location near the Olkaria geothermal power plant.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The GOK mandates local employment in the category of unskilled labor.  The Kenyan government regularly issues permits for key senior managers and personnel with special skills not available locally.  For other skilled labor, any enterprise whether local or foreign may recruit from outside if the skills are not available in Kenya.  Firms seeking to hire expatriates must demonstrate that the requisite skills are not available locally through an exhaustive search. The Ministry of EAC and Northern Corridor, however, has noted plans to replace this requirement with an official inventory of skills that are not available in Kenya.  A work permit can cost up to KSH 400,000 (approximately USD 4,000).

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015) offers preferences to firms owned by Kenyan citizens and to products manufactured or mined in Kenya.  Tenders funded entirely by the government with a value of less than KSH 50 million (approximately USD 500,000), are reserved for Kenyan firms and goods. If the procuring entity seeks to contract with non-Kenyan firms or procure foreign goods, the act requires a report detailing evidence of an inability to procure locally.  The act also calls for at least 30 percent of government procurement contracts to go to firms owned by women, youth, and persons with disabilities. The act further reserves 20 percent of county procurement tenders to residents of that county.

The Finance Act (2017) amends the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015) to introduce Specially Permitted Procurement as an alternative method of acquiring public goods and services.  The new method permits state agencies to bypass existing public procurement laws under certain circumstances. Procuring entities will be allowed to use this method where market conditions or behavior do not allow effective application of the 10 methods outlined in the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.  The act gives the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary the authority to prescribe the procedure for carrying out specially permitted procurement.

The GOK does not currently have any laws requiring data localization, though the draft Data Protection Bill (2018) would impose restrictions on the transfer of data in and out of Kenya, functionally requiring data localization.  The draft bill is similar to the European General Data Protection Regulation requirements on data processing. The GOK’s 2016 draft ICT Policy stated a preference for legislated data localization, but was never implemented.

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 http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Though relatively small by Western standards, Kenya’s capital markets are the deepest and most sophisticated in East Africa.  The Kenyan capital market has grown rapidly in recent years and has also exhibited strong capital raising capacity. The bond market is underdeveloped and dominated by trading in government debt securities.  The government domestic debt market, however, is deep and liquid. Long-term corporate bond issuances are uncommon, leading to a lack of long-term investment capital.

Foreign investors can obtain credit on the local market; however, the number of available credit instruments is relatively small and the government’s interest rate cap since 2016 continues to constrain the availability of credit.  Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally aligned with international norms. The Kenyan National Treasury has launched its mobile money platform government bond to retail investors locally. The name of the product is M-Akiba, through which local Kenyans are able to purchase bonds as small as USD 30 on their mobile phones.  The product was enthusiastically received and generated 400,000 new accounts in the first two weeks of its issuance. The GOK expects to issue USD 10 million over this platform in 2019 in an effort to deepen financial inclusion and financial literacy.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) is working with regulators in EAC member states through the Capital Market Development Committee (CMDC) and East African Securities Regulatory Authorities (EASRA) on a regional integration initiative and has successfully introduced cross-listing of equity shares.  The combined use of both the Central Depository System (CDS) and an automated trading system has moved the Kenyan securities market to globally accepted standards. Kenya is a full (ordinary) member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions Money and Banking System.

Money and Banking System

The Kenyan banking sector in 2018 included 47 commercial banks, one mortgage finance company, 14 microfinance banks, eight representative offices of foreign banks, 74 foreign exchange bureaus, 18 money remittance providers, and three credit reference bureaus.  Kenya also has 12 deposit-taking microfinance institutions. Of Kenya’s 47 banking institutions, 28 are locally owned and 13 are foreign owned. Major international banks operating in Kenya include Citibank, Barclays, Bank of India, Standard Bank (South Africa), and Standard Chartered.

In March, 2017, CBK lifted its moratorium on licensing new banks, issued in November 2015 following the collapse of Imperial Bank and Dubai Bank.  The CBK’s decision to restart licensing signaled a return of stability in the Kenyan banking sector. JPMorgan Chase has expressed interest in setting up a representative office in Nairobi and Qatari National Bank (QNB) is interested in arranging a Sukuk (sovereign bond) for Kenya. In 2018, Societé Generale (France) also set up a representative office in Nairobi.

In August 2016, President Kenyatta signed into law the Banking Act (2016), which caps the maximum interest rate banks can charge on loans at four percent above the CBK’s benchmark lending rate.  It further provides a floor for the deposit rate held in interest earning accounts to at least 70 percent of the CBK benchmark rate. The cap has hurt the GOK’s ability to raise funds in the local debt market.  The cap also has slowed the consumer and small and medium business credit market. The International Monetary Fund and other observers have warned that the restrictions will result in a continuing contraction in the availability of credit.  In March 2019, the Supreme Court found the interest rate cap to be unconstitutional, but suspended its ruling for 12 months to provide Parliament an opportunity to review the cap.

In the ongoing land registry digitization process, the Kenyan Government is working on a database, known as the single source of truth (SSOT), to eliminate fake title deeds in the Ministry of Lands.  The SSOT database development plan is premised on blockchain technology – distributed ledger technology – as the primary reference for all land transactions. The SSOT database would help the land transaction process to be efficient, open, and transparent.

The percentage of Kenya’s total population with access to financial services through conventional or mobile banking platforms is approximately 80 percent.  According to the World Bank, M-Pesa, Kenya’s largest mobile banking platform, processes more transactions within Kenya each year than Western Union does globally.  In September 2018, 30 million Kenyans were using mobile phone platforms to transfer money, according to the Communication Authority of Kenya. The 2017 National ICT Masterplan envisages the sector contributing at least 10 percent of GDP, up from 4.7 percent in 2015.  Several mobile money platform have achieved international interoperability, allowing the Kenyan diaspora to conduct financial transactions in Kenya from abroad.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

Kenya has no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with investment.  Kenyan law requires the declaration to customs of amounts greater than KSH 1,000,000 (approximately USD 10,000) or the equivalent in foreign currencies for non-residents as a formal check against money laundering.  Kenya is an open economy with a liberalized capital account and a floating exchange rate. The CBK engages in volatility controls aimed exclusively at smoothing temporary market fluctuations. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the Kenyan shilling declined 3.5 percent after a sharp decline of 15 percent during the same period in 2014/2015.  In 2018, foreign exchange reserves remained relatively steady. The average inflation rate was between 3.7-5.7 percent in 2018 and the average rate on 91-day treasury bills had fallen to 7.75 percent in 2018. According to CBK figures, the average exchange rate was KSH 101.3to USD 1.00 in 2018.

Remittance Policies

Kenya’s Foreign Investment Protection Act (FIPA) guarantees capital repatriation and remittance of dividends and interest to foreign investors, who are free to convert and repatriate profits including un-capitalized retained profits (proceeds of an investment after payment of the relevant taxes and the principal and interest associated with any loan).

Foreign currency is readily available from commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaus and can be freely bought and sold by local and foreign investors.  The Central Bank of Kenya Act (2014), however, states that all foreign exchange dealers are required to obtain and retain appropriate documents for all transactions above the equivalent of KSH 1,000,000 (approximately USD 10,000).  As of March 2018, the CBK has licensed 18 money remittance providers following the operationalization of the Money Remittance Regulations in April 2013.

Kenya is listed as a country of primary concern for money laundering and financial crime by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  Kenya was removed from the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Watchlist in 2014 following progress in creating the legal and institutional framework to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Kenya is in the process of establishing a sovereign wealth fund under the Kenya National Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill (2014).  The fund would receive income from any future privatization proceeds, dividends from state corporations, oil and gas, and minerals revenues due to the national government, revenue from other natural resources, and funds from any other source.  The bill remains under internal review and stakeholder consultations.

The Kenya Information and Communications Act (2009) provides for the establishment of a Universal Service Fund (USF).  The purpose of the USF is to fund national projects that have significant impact on the availability and accessibility of ICT services in rural, remote, and poor urban areas.  The USF has amassed sizeable assets, but to date, the fund and its managing committee have not been able to mobilize it for use on any project.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

In 2013, the Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms (PTFPR) published a list of all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and recommended proposals to reduce the number of State Corporations from 262 to 187 to eliminate redundant functions between parastatals; close or dispose of non-performing organizations; consolidate functions wherever possible; and reduce the workforce — however, progress is slow.  The taskforce’s report can be found at http://www.cofek.co.ke/Report percent20of percent20The percent20Presidential percent20Task percent20force percent20on percent20Parastatal percent20Reforms.pdf .  In general, competitive equality is the standard applied to private enterprises in competition with public enterprises.  Certain parastatals, however, have enjoyed preferential access to markets. Examples include Kenya Reinsurance, which enjoys a guaranteed market share; Kenya Seed Company, which has fewer marketing barriers than its foreign competitors; and the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK), which benefits from retail market outlets developed with government funds.  Some state corporations have also benefited from easier access to government guarantees, subsidies, or credit at favorable interest rates. In addition, “partial listings” on the Nairobi Securities Exchange offer parastatals the benefit of financing through equity and GOK loans (or guarantees) without being completely privatized.

SOE procurement from the private sector is guided by the Public Procurement (Preference and Reservations) (Amendment) Regulations (2013).  The amendment reserves 30 percent government supply contracts for youth, women, and small and medium enterprises. Kenya is neither party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) nor an Observer Government.

Privatization Program

Kenya is not currently pursuing privatization.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999) establishes a legal and institutional framework for the management of the environment while the Factories Act (1951) safeguards labor rights in industries.  The legal system, however, has remained slow to prosecute corporate malfeasance in both areas.

The GOK does not have laws or regulations encouraging Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for the risk of discouraging investment.  It is not an adherent to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct, and it is not yet an Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementing country or a Voluntary Principles Initiative signatory.  Nonetheless, good examples of CSR abound as major foreign enterprises drive CSR efforts by applying international standards relating to human rights, business ethics, environmental policies, community development, and corporate governance.

9. Corruption

Many businesses deem corruption to be pervasive and entrenched in Kenya.  Transparency International’s (TI) 2018 Global Corruption Perception Index ranks Kenya 144 out of 180 countries, one place lower than in 2017 and Kenya’s score of 27 remains below the sub-Saharan Africa average of 32.  Historical lack of political will, little progress in prosecuting past corruption cases, and the slow pace of reform in key sectors were reasons cited for Kenya’s chronic low ranking. Corruption has been reported to be an impediment to FDI, with local media reporting allegations of high-level corruption related to health, energy, ICT, and infrastructure contracts.  There are many reports that corruption often influences the outcomes of government tenders, and U.S. firms have had limited success bidding on public procurements. In 2018, President Kenyatta began a public campaign against corruption and Kenya’s anticorruption agencies now appear to be coordinating more effectively, including bringing cases against senior officials in an effort to secure high-level convictions.

Kenyan law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption, but no high-level officials were successfully prosecuted and convicted for corruption in 2018.  Relevant legislation and regulations include the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (2003), the Public Officers Ethics Act (2003), the Code of Ethics Act for Public Servants (2004), the Public Procurement and Disposal Act (2010), the Leadership and Integrity Act (2012), and the Bribery Act (2016).  The Access to Information Act (2016) also provides mechanisms through which private citizens can obtain information on government activities; implementation of this act is ongoing. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) monitors and enforces compliance with the above legislation.

The Leadership and Integrity Act (2012) requires public officers to register potential conflicts of interest with the relevant commissions.  The law identifies interests that public officials must register, including directorships in public or private companies, remunerated employment, securities holdings, and contracts for supply of goods or services, among others.  The law requires candidates seeking appointment to non-elective public offices to declare their wealth, political affiliations, and relationships with other senior public officers. This requirement is in addition to background screening on education, tax compliance, leadership, and integrity.

The law requires that all public officers declare their income, assets, and liabilities every two years.  Public officers must also include the income, assets, and liabilities of their spouses and dependent children under the age of 18.  Information contained in these declarations is not publicly available, and requests to obtain and publish this information must be approved by the relevant commission.  Any person who publishes or makes public information contained in public officer declarations without permission may be subject to fine or imprisonment.

On August 31, 2016, the president signed into law the Access to Information Act (2016).  The law allows citizens to request government information and requires government entities and private entities doing business with the government proactively to disclose certain information, such as government contracts.  The act also provides a mechanism to request a review of the government’s failure to disclose requested information, along with penalties for failures to disclose. The act exempts certain information from disclosure on grounds of national security.

The private sector-supported Bribery Act (2016) stiffened penalties for corruption in public tendering and requires private firms participating in such tenders to sign a code of ethics and develop measures to prevent bribery.  Both the Bill of Rights of the 2010 Constitution and the Access to Information Act (2016) provide protections to NGOs, investigative journalism, and individuals involved in investigating corruption. The Witness Protection Act (2006) calls for the protection of witnesses in criminal cases and created an independent Witness Protection Agency.  A draft Whistleblowers Protection Bill (2016) is currently stalled in Parliament.

Kenya is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and in 2016 published the results of a peer review process on UNCAC compliance:  (https://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/CountryVisit
FinalReports/2015_09_28_Kenya_Final_Country_Report.pdf
 
).  Kenya is also a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery, and a member of the Open Government Partnership.  Kenya is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Kenya is also a signatory to the East African Community’s Protocol on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Rev. Eliud Wabukala (Ret.)
Chairperson and Commissioner
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission
P.O.  Box 61130 00200 Nairobi, Kenya
Phones:  +254 (0)20-271-7318, (0)20-310-722, (0)729-888-881/2/3

Report corruption online: http://www.eacc.go.ke/default.asp?pageid=62 

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Samuel Kimeu
Executive Director
Transparency International Kenya
Phone:  +254 (0)722-296-589
Email: skimeu@tikenya.org

Report corruption online: https://www.tikenya.org/ 

10. Political and Security Environment

Political tensions over the protracted and contentious 2017 election cycle spilled well into 2018.  In March 2018, however, President Kenyatta and opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga publicly shook hands and pledged to work together to heal the political, social, and economic divides revealed by the election.  The 2017 electoral period had been marred by violence that claimed the lives of nearly 100 Kenyans, a contentious political atmosphere pitting the ruling Jubilee Party against NASA, and political interference and attacks by both sides on key institutions.  In November 2017, the Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the October 2017 repeat presidential election results and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in an election boycotted by NASA leader Odinga. The court’s ruling brought a close to Kenya’s protracted 2017 election cycle, a period that included the Supreme Court’s historic September 2017 annulment of the August 2017 presidential election and the unprecedented repeat election.

The United States’ Travel Advisory for Kenya advises U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution due to the threat of crime and terrorism, and not to travel to counties bordering Somalia and to certain coastal areas due to terrorism.  Instability in Somalia has heightened security concerns and led to increased security measures aimed at businesses and public institutions around the country. Tensions flare occasionally within and between ethnic communities. Regional conflict, most notably in Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, sometimes have spill-over effects in Kenya.  There could be an increase in refugees escaping drought and instability in neighboring countries, adding to the large refugee population already in Kenya from several countries. Security expenditures represent a substantial operating expense for businesses in Kenya.

Kenya and its neighbors are working together to mitigate the threats of terrorism and insecurity through African-led initiatives such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the nascent Eastern African Standby Force (EASF).  Despite attacks against Kenyan forces in Somalia, the GOK has maintained its commitment to promoting peace and stability in Somalia.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Kenya has one of the highest literacy rates in the region at 90 percent.  Investors have access to a large pool of highly-qualified professionals in diverse sectors from a working population of over 47.5 percent out of a population of 45 million people.  Expatriates are allowed to work in Kenya provided they have a work (entry) permit issued under the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act. Any enterprise, whether local or foreign, may recruit expatriates for any category of skilled labor if Kenyans are not available.  Work permits are usually granted to foreign enterprises approved to operate in Kenya as long as the applicants are key personnel. In 2015, the Directorate of Immigration Services made additions to the list of requirements for work permits and special pass applications.  Issuance of a work permit now requires an assured income of at least USD 24,000 annually. Exemptions are available, however, for firms in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, or consulting sectors with a special permit. International companies have complained that the visa and work permit approval process is slow and bribes are sometimes solicited to speed the process.  A tightening of work permit issuances and enforcement begun in 2018 is now one of the largest complaints of multinational companies doing business in Kenya.

A company holding an investment certificate granted by registering with KenInvest and passing health, safety, and environmental inspections becomes automatically eligible for three class D work (entry) permits for management or technical staff and three class G, I, or J work permits for owners, shareholders, or partners.  More information on permit classes can be found at https://kenya.eregulations.org/menu/61?l=en  .

While the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reports formal unemployment of 7.4 percent, KNBS statistics exclude Kenya’s huge “inactive” worker population, currently estimated at 23 percent (5.6 million) of Kenya’s total working-age population of 25 million; including this group raises total unemployment to about 30 percent.  Employment in Kenya’s formal sector was 2.7 million in 2016, an increase of 3.3 percent from 2015. Average wages for the formal sector are KSH 642,731 (approximately USD 6,240) annually. The government is the largest employer in the formal sector, with an estimated 737,100 government workers in 2016. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing employ 337,000 workers, and manufacturing employs 301,000 workers.  Kenya’s large informal sector, however, makes accurate labor reporting difficult.

In 2017, the GOK launched a website linking job seekers to employment and internship opportunities across the country (http://www.mygov.go.ke/category/jobs/  ). The Kenya Labour Market Information System (KLMIS) portal (https://www.labourmarket.go.ke/) run by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in collaboration with the labor stakeholders, is a one-stop shop for labor information in the country.  The site seeks to help address the challenge of inadequate supply of crucial employment statistics in Kenya by providing an interactive platform for prospective employers and job seekers.

There are no known material compliance gaps in either law or practice with international labor standards that would be expected to pose a reputational risk to investors.  The International Labor Organization has not identified any material gaps in Kenya’s labor law or practice with international labor standards. Kenya’s labor laws comply, for the most part, with internationally recognized standards and conventions, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is currently reviewing and ensuring that Kenya’s labor laws are consistent with the 2010 constitution.  The Labor Relations Act (2007) provides that workers, including those in export processing zones, are free to form and join unions of their choice.

Collective bargaining is common in the formal sector but there is no data on the percentage of the economy covered by collective bargaining agreements.  The law permits workers in collective bargaining disputes to strike, but requires the exhaustion of formal conciliation procedures and seven days’ notice to both the government and the employer.  Anti-union discrimination is prohibited, and the government does not have a history of retaliating against striking workers. The law provides for equal pay for equal work. Regulation of wages is part of the Labor Institutions Act (2014), and the government has established basic minimum wages by occupation and location.

The GOK has a growing trade relationship with the United States under the AGOA framework which requires labor standards to be upheld.  In 2018, the government continued to implement a range of programs for the elimination of child labor with dozens of partner agencies, and has actively pursued the elimination of forced labor.  However, low salaries and the lack of vehicles, fuel, and other resources make it very difficult for labor inspectors to do their work. Employers in all sectors routinely bribe labor inspectors to prevent them from reporting infractions, especially in the area of child labor.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

In 2016, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) established a regional office in Nairobi, but the office is not currently staffed.  The agency is engaged in funding programs in Kenya with an active in-country portfolio of approximately USD 700 million, including projects in power generation, internet infrastructure, light manufacturing, and education infrastructure.  OPIC currently has an active pipeline of new projects including transactions in the energy, education, and financial service sectors. On October 2018, President Trump signed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD), which will consolidate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) and increase OPIC’s overall portfolio from USD 29 Billion to USD 60 Billion.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($B USD) 2017 $79.26 201 $79.2 www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2017 $405 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2017 $6 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2017 14.9% https://unctad.org/sections/dite_dir/docs/wir2018/wir18_fs_ke_en.pdf 


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment From/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $3,885 100% Total Outward $803 100%
U.K $1,086 28% Uganda $395 49%
Mauritius $675 17% Mauritius $293 37%
Netherlands $652 17% South Africa $52 6%
France $315 8% Mozambique $37 5%
South Africa $309 8% Italy $12 2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source:  IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS). Figures are from 2012 (latest available).  IMF no longer publishes Kenya data as part of its CDIS.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries $3,885 100% All Countries $2,817 100% All Countries $833 100%
U.K. $1,086 27% U.K $974 35% Netherlands $353 42%
Mauritius $675 17% Mauritius $618 22% France $174 21%
Netherlands $652 17% Netherlands $299 11% U.K. $112 13%
France $315 8% South Africa $290 10% Mauritius $57 7%
South Africa $309 8% Germany $181 6% Switzerland $55 7%

Source:  IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS). Figures are from 2012 (latest available).  IMF no longer publishes Kenya data as part of its CPIS.

14. Contact for More Information

U.S. Embassy Economic Section
U.N. Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 (0)20 363 6050

Rwanda

Executive Summary

Rwanda enjoys strong economic growth, high rankings in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and a reputation for low corruption.  The Government of Rwanda (GOR) has undertaken a series of policy reforms intended to improve Rwanda’s investment climate and increase foreign direct investment (FDI).  In 2018, the GOR implemented additional reforms to decrease bureaucracy in construction permitting, improve the timely provision of electricity, and reduce customs processing times for exporters.  The GOR also introduced online certification processes for certificates of origin and phytosanitary approvals. The country presents a number of FDI opportunities, including: manufacturing, infrastructure, energy distribution and transmission, off-grid energy, agriculture and agro-processing, low cost housing, tourism, services, and information and communications technology (ICT).  The Investment Code includes equal treatment between foreigners and nationals with regard to certain operations, free transfer of funds, and compensation against expropriation; this treatment is reinforced in the 2008 U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). .

According to the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the country’s Central Bank, Rwanda attracted USD 342.2 million in FDI inflows in 2016 (the most recent data available), representing 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).  Rwanda had a total USD 1.68 billion of FDI stock in 2016, the latest year data is available. In 2018, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) reported registering more than USD 2 billion in new investment commitments, mainly in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and agro-processing, 47 percent of which were FDI.  In pursuit of Rwanda’s goal to become a regional hub for tourism, services, and logistics, the GOR has plans for a number of high-profile infrastructure projects, including Kigali Innovation City in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which will accommodate technological universities and companies working in the tech sector.  Construction of Kigali Innovation City is ongoing, with the new campus of Carnegie Mellon University Africa set to open in 2019. Construction of Bugesera International Airport began in 2017, with completion of the first phase planned for 2021, although delays are probable. The GOR is also discussing a rail line to connect with Tanzania.

In February 2019, Standard and Poor’s affirmed Rwanda’s “B/B-” long and short-term foreign and sovereign credit ratings.  The GOR has developed an export promotion program called “Made in Rwanda.”  This campaign seeks to diversify exports, ease exchange rate pressure, and reduce the country’s trade deficit.  Government public debt has rapidly increased over the past few years to more than 50 percent of GDP, but most of these loans are on highly concessionary terms.  A 2017-2018 investor perception survey by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) found that the majority of existing large companies in Rwanda have plans to invest further in the country.  According to the same survey, the most frequently perceived obstacles for current company growth are: access to working capital, shortage of qualified labor, tax levels, tax predictability, and lack of reliable electricity and water (particularly for mining and manufacturing).  In the same report, investors suggested that RDB should focus more on after-care services and improving coordination among government institutions. 

Many companies report that although it is easy to start a business in Rwanda, it can be difficult to operate a profitable or sustainable business due to a variety of hurdles and constraints.  These include the country’s landlocked geography and resulting high freight transport costs, a small domestic market, limited access to affordable financing, payment delays with government contracts, and inconsistent enforcement of laws and regulations.  Government interventions designed to support overall economic growth can significantly impact investors, with some expressing frustration that they were not consulted prior to the abrupt implementation of government policies and regulations that affected their business.  A number of investors have said that tax incentives included in deals signed by RDB are not honored by the lead tax agency, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). Similarly, some investors stated that Rwanda’s immigration authority does not always honor the employment and immigration commitments of investment certificates and deals.  Some investors reported difficulties in registering patents and having rules against infringement of their property rights enforced in a timely manner.  There are neither statutory limits on foreign ownership or control, nor any official policies that discriminate against foreign investors, though some complain about competition from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and ruling party-aligned businesses.

General labor is available, but Rwanda suffers from a shortage of skilled workers, including accountants, lawyers, electricians, and technicians.  Higher institutes of technology, private universities, and vocational institutes are improving. The establishment of Carnegie Mellon University Africa and the opening of a regional Andela office could boost the supply of qualified software developers in the coming years.  While electricity and water supply have improved, businesses may continue to experience intermittent outages, especially during peak times, due to distribution challenges. Some investors report difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange from time-to-time, which may be caused by the country running a persistent trade deficit. 

Rwanda promotes women and gender equality in all walks of life.  Rwanda pioneered a number of projects to promote women entrepreneurs.  Both men and women have equal access to investment facilitation and protections. 

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 48 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 29 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 99 of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $720 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

Note: 

  • According to the National Institute for Statistics for Rwanda (NISR), GDP per head in current USD was USD 787 in 2018
  • According to BNR, stock of U.S. FDI in the country stood at USD 87.4 million in 2016, however many American investments are via subsidiaries from third countries

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Over the past decade, the GOR has undertaken a series of policy reforms intended to improve the investment climate, wean Rwanda’s economy off foreign assistance, and increase FDI levels.  Rwanda enjoys strong economic growth, averaging over 7 percent annually over the last decade, high rankings in the World Bank’s Doing Business report (29 out of 190 economies in 2019 (and second best in Africa) compared to 41 in 2018), and a reputation for low corruption.  The Rwandan economy grew more than 8 percent in 2018 as higher global prices for traditional exports, improved agricultural output, growth in transport and tourism, and a rebound in construction activities helped the country to recover from drought and a cyclical downturn in 2016.  The Rwandan economy will continue to be susceptible to the whims of climatic conditions and fluctuation in global commodity prices for coffee, tea, and minerals.  

Potential and current investors cite a number of hurdles and constraints to doing business in Rwanda, including its landlocked geography and resulting high freight transport costs; a small domestic market; limited access to affordable financing; payment delays with government contracts; and frequently inconsistent application of tax, investment, and immigration rules.  In order to support export growth, the GOR subsidizes transportation costs for agricultural products. Given Rwanda’s landlocked geopolitical situation, the country must rely on strong levels of economic diplomacy with countries that offer access to ports. Any serious breakdown in political relationships with Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda, could impinge investors’ ability to obtain the necessary inputs required for sustained levels of commerce in Rwanda. 

RDB was established in 2006 to fast track investment projects by integrating all government agencies responsible for the entire investor experience under one roof.  This includes key agencies responsible for business registration, investment promotion, environmental compliance clearances, export promotion and other necessary approvals.  New investors can register online at the RDB’s website and receive a certificate in as fast as six hours, and the agency’s “one-stop shop” helps investors secure required approvals, certificates, and work permits.  RDB took steps to enhance investor after-care in 2017, launching a weekly Investor Open House and quarterly investor dialogues, events where RDB senior management officials meet and engage with business leaders. RDB states its investment priorities are innovation and technology, particularly ICT and green innovation; tourism and real estate; agriculture and food security; energy and infrastructure; and mining.  

In 2018, the GOR implemented improvements designed to stimulate investments.  Examples of these reforms include reducing the time required to obtain construction permits and to clear exports through customs by exporters and enabling a more timely provision of electricity.  The GOR also introduced several online certification processes, including for certificate of origin and phytosanitary approvals. RRA started issuing electronic certificates of origin free of charge.  The National Agricultural Export Board issues certificates of origin for tea and coffee free of charge. Rwanda Energy Group (REG) reports that reforms, including a new online application process, have reduced the time for new connections to the electricity grid from an average of 34 days to 20.  REG claims that newly introduced automation systems will enable it to better monitor frequency and duration of outages, improving grid stability and uptime. According to RDB, certain construction projects will no longer require geotechnical studies. RDB also says that construction permit applications will no longer require a commencement date.  

Investors broadly express satisfaction with RDB’s investment facilitation efforts.  However, some foreign investors complain that implementation can be less smooth due to delays in government payments for services or goods delivered.  Other investors complain that they perceived there were GOR efforts to change contracts or memoranda of understanding after such items were negotiated.  Others have faced surprising tax assessments with little notice. Some investors have faced difficulty in obtaining or renewing work visas, perhaps a result of the GOR’s demonstrated preference for hiring local or East African Community (EAC) residents over other expatriates.  Rwanda’s Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration does not always honor the employment and immigration commitments of investment certificates and deals, according to some investors.  

A number of investors have said a top concern affecting their operations in Rwanda is that tax incentives included in deals signed by the RDB are not fully honored by the RRA.  Investors further cite the inconsistent application of tax incentives and import duties as a significant challenge to doing business in Rwanda. For example, a few investors have said that local customs officials have attempted to charge them duties based on their perception of the value of an import, regardless of the actual purchase price.  Under Rwandan law, foreign firms should receive equal treatment with regard to taxes, as well as access to licenses, approvals, and procurement. Foreign firms should receive VAT tax rebates within 15 days of receipt by the RRA, but firms complain that the process for reimbursement can take months, and occasionally years. RRA introduced new software in 2018 that should allow these refunds to be processed and delivered in a more timely manner.  VAT refunds may also be held up pending the results of RRA audits. RRA aggressively enforces tax requirements and imposes punitive fines for errors – deliberate or not – in tax payments, according to some investors.

Based on Article 15 of Law nº 76/2013 of 11/09/2013, the Office of the Ombudsman has the authority to request that the Supreme Court reconsider and review judgments rendered at the last instance by ordinary, commercial, and military courts, if there is any persistence of injustice.  More information on the review process can be found at https://ombudsman.gov.rw/en/?Court-Judgement-Review-Unit-1375  .  

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Rwanda has neither statutory limits on foreign ownership or control nor any official economic or industrial strategy that discriminates against foreign investors.  Local and foreign investors have the right to own and establish business enterprises in all forms of remunerative activity.  The Rwandan constitution stipulates that every person has the right to private property, whether personal or in association with others.  The government cannot violate the right to private ownership except in the public interest, and only then after following procedures that are determined by law and subject to fair compensation. 

The law also allows private entities to acquire and dispose of interests in business enterprises.  Foreign nationals may hold shares in locally incorporated companies. The GOR has continued to privatize state holdings, although the government, ruling party, and military continue to play a dominant role in Rwanda’s private sector.  Foreign investors can acquire real estate but with a general limit on land ownership.  While local investors can acquire land through leasehold agreements that extend to a maximum of 99 years, foreign investors are usually restricted to leases up to 49 years with the possibility of renewal.  The government published a new Investment Code in 2015 aimed at providing tax breaks and other incentives to boost FDI.  The Investment Code includes equal treatment for foreigners and nationals with regard to certain operations, free transfer of funds, and compensation against expropriation. 

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In February 2019, The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a Trade Policy Review for the EAC covering Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  The report is available at: https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/FE_Search/FE_S_S006.aspx?Query=(@Symbol= percent20wt/tpr/s/*) percent20and percent20(( percent20@Title= percent20rwanda percent20) percent20or percent20(@CountryConcerned= percent20rwanda))&Language=ENGLISH&Context=FomerScriptedSearch&languageUIChanged=true#   

The Rwanda annex to the report is available at:  https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/FE_Search/ExportFile.aspx?Id=251521&filename=q/WT/TPR/S384-04.pdf  

Business Facilitation

The RDB offers one of the fastest business registration processes in Africa.  New investors can register online at the RDB’s website (http://org.rdb.rw/busregonline  ) or register in person at the RDB in Kigali.  Once a certificate of registration is generated, company tax identification and employer social security contribution numbers are also generated automatically.  The RDB “One Stop Center” assists firms in acquiring visas and work permits, connections to electricity and water, and support in conducting required environmental impact assessments.  

In 2018, RRA distributed a new electronic billing software and electronic billing machines that should improve efficiency and introduce additional flexibilities for customer-facing businesses.  This should also support all customers by allowing vendors to issue official VAT invoices from any computer with the new software. The system submits VAT refund claims directly through the RRA E-Tax Portal, which should reduce the time required to process VAT refunds. To reduce the number of cases subjected to audit, RRA is implementing an automated audit case selection process using a risk-based approach to select taxpayers subjected to audit based on compliance history.  The official announcement of these changes is available at: https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=286&tx_news_pi1 percent5Bnews percent5D=166&tx_news_pi1 percent5Bcontroller percent5D=News&tx_news_pi1 percent5Baction percent5D=detail&cHash=dfd263b497338982e0a9ebff74d52fdb  

The RDB is prioritizing additional reforms to improve the investment climate.  By 2020, it hopes to amend the land policy to merge issuance of free hold titles and occupancy permits; introduce online notarization of property transfers; implement small claims procedure to allow self-representation in court and reduce attorney costs; launch electronic auctioning to reduce time to enforce judgments, reducing court fees and allowing payments electronically; and establish a commercial division at the Court of Appeal to fast-track commercial dispute resolution. 

Rwanda promotes women and gender equality and has pioneered a number of projects to promote women entrepreneurs, including the creation of the Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs within the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF).  Both men and women have equal access to investment facilitation and protections.     

Outward Investment

The government does not have a formal program to provide incentives for domestic firms seeking to invest abroad, but there are no restrictions in place limiting such investment.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Bilateral Investment Treaties 

Rwanda is a member of the WTO, the EAC, Economic Community of the Great Lakes, the Economic Community of Central African States, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).  Rwanda ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement in March 2018, but its implications for the region remain unclear. While the EAC now has a customs union and common market, the slow pace of regulatory reform, lack of harmonization, non-tariff barriers, and bureaucratic inefficiencies still hamper the free movement of goods, capital, and people in the region.  Rwanda takes part in EAC negotiations with other trading partners.  

The United States and Rwanda signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2006 and a BIT in 2008.  Rwanda has active bilateral investment treaties with Germany (1969), Belgium-Luxemburg Economic Union (1985), and the Republic of Korea (2013).  Rwanda signed bilateral investment treaties with Mauritius (2001), South Africa (2000), Turkey (2016), Morocco (2016), the United Arab Emirates (2016), and Qatar (2018), but these treaties have yet to enter into force.  Rwanda signed the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EAC and the European Union; this agreement has not yet entered into force. 

Bilateral Taxation Treaties 

Rwanda does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States.  Rwanda has double taxation agreements with Barbados, Mauritius, the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, the Bailiwick of Jersey, Singapore and South Africa.

After Rwanda implemented new higher tariffs on imports of secondhand clothing and footwear in 2016, the U.S. government partially suspended African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) benefits for apparel products from Rwanda, effective May 2018.  Many other Rwandan exports to the United States are still eligible for trade preferences under the Generalized System of Preferences and AGOA.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The GOR generally employs transparent policies and effective laws largely consistent with international norms.  Rwanda is a member of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development’s international network of transparent investment procedures.  The Rwanda eRegulations system is an online database designed to bring transparency to investment procedures in Rwanda.  Investors can find further information on administrative procedures at:  https://businessprocedures.rdb.rw/.  Rwandan laws and regulations are published in the Government Gazette and/or online at http://primature.gov.rw/index.php?id=97  Government institutions generally have clear rules and procedures, but implementation can sometimes be uneven.  Investors have cited examples of receiving conflicting information from different officials in one or more government departments.  Investors have also cited breach of contracts and incentive promises, and the short time given to comply with changes in government policies, as hurdles to comply with regulations. 

For example, the GOR submitted a 2019 draft law to Parliament banning single use plastic containers.  Investors in the beverage and agro-processing sectors expressed concern that the law would have a serious impact on their operations, that alternative packaging was not available in some cases, and that the GOR did not consult effectively with stakeholders before submitting it.  The law would build on a ban on the manufacture and use of polyethylene bags introduced in 2008.

There is no formal mechanism to publish draft laws for public comment, although civil society sometimes has the opportunity to review them.  There is no informal regulatory process managed by nongovernmental organizations. Regulations are usually developed rapidly in an effort to achieve policy goals and sometimes lack a basis in scientific or data-driven assessments.  Scientific studies, or quantitative analysis (if any) conducted on the impact of regulations, are not generally made publicly available for comment. Regulators do not publicize comments they receive. Public finances and debt obligations are generally made available to the public in reasonable time but only after budget enactment.  Finances for SOEs are not publicly available but may be requested by civil society organizations with a legitimate reason.  

There is no government effort to restrict foreign participation in industry standards-setting consortia or organizations.  Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms, but are not always enforced.  The Rwanda Utility Regulation Agency (RURA), the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), the Anticorruption Division of the RRA, the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), the National Tender Board, and the Rwanda Environment Management Authority also enforce regulations.  In recent years, the OAG’s annual reports to parliament have prompted criminal investigations of alleged misconduct and corruption. Consumer protection associations exist but are largely ineffective. The business community has been able to lobby the government and provide feedback on some draft government policies through the PSF, a business association with strong ties to the government.  In some cases, the PSF has welcomed foreign investors which organized other investors to positively affect government policies. However, some investors have criticized the PSF for advocating to businesses about government policies rather than advocating business concerns to the government.  

International Regulatory Considerations

Rwanda is a member of the EAC Standards Technical Management Committee.  Approved EAC measures are generally incorporated into the Rwandan regulatory system within six months and are published in the National Gazette like other domestic laws and regulations.  Rwanda is also a member of the standards technical committees for the International Standardization Organization, the African Organization for Standardization, and the International Electrotechnical Commission.  Rwanda is a member of the International Organization for Legal Metrology and the International Metrology Confederation.  RSB represents Rwanda at the African Electrotechnical Commission. Rwanda notifies draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade. 

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Rwandan legal system was originally based on the Belgian civil law system.  However, since the renovation of the legal framework in 2002, the introduction of a new constitution in 2003, and the country’s entrance to the Commonwealth in 2009, there is now a mixture of civil law and common law (hybrid system).  Rwanda’s courts address commercial disputes and facilitate enforcement of property and contract rights.  Rwanda’s judicial system suffers from a lack of resources and capacity, including well-functioning courts, with some cases allegedly backlogged up to five years.  Investors occasionally cite what they perceive as the government’s casual approach to contract sanctity and say the GOR sometimes fails to enforce court judgments in a timely fashion.  In August 2018, the GOR created a Court of Appeal in an attempt to expedite the appeal process without going to the Supreme Court and to reduce backlogs. The new Court of Appeal arbitrates cases handled by the High Court, Commercial High Court, and Military High Court.  The Supreme Court continues to decide on cases of injustice filed from the Ombudsman Office and on constitutional interpretation. 

A Tax Court is yet to be established in Rwanda.  The RDB announced the government’s intent to create a commercial division at the Court of Appeal to fast-track resolution on commercial disputes. 

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

National laws governing commercial establishments, investments, privatization and public investments, land, and environmental protection are the primary directives governing investments in Rwanda.  Since 2011, the government reformed tax payment processes and enacted additional laws on insolvency and arbitration. The 2015 Investment Code establishes policies on FDI, including dispute resolution (Article 9).  The RDB keeps investment-related regulations and procedures at: http://businessprocedures.rdb.rw  .

According to a WTO policy review report dated January 2019, Rwanda is not a party to any countertrade and offsetting arrangements, or agreements limiting exports to Rwanda. 

A new property tax law was passed in August 2018.  The new law removes the provision that taxpayers must have freehold land titles to pay property taxes.  Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will receive a two-year tax trading license exemption upon establishment.  Under the new law, the income threshold reserved for maintenance and upkeep of rented property has increased from 30 percent to 50 percent, and interest rates on loans are subtracted in the calculation of the taxable value.  For residential houses (in excess of the first family home), owners pay 0.25 percent in the first year, 0.5 percent in the second year, 0.75 percent in third year, and graduate to 1 percent from the fourth year onwards.  Commercial buildings are taxed 0.2 percent of the property market value in the first year, 0.3 percent in the second year, 0.4 percent in the third year, and 0.5 percent from the fourth year onwards.  For industry, the rate is maintained at a flat rate of 0.1 percent of their market value to support the “Made in Rwanda” campaign to promote local manufacturing. 

In April 2018, the GOR passed a new law to streamline income tax administration and to clarify the law.  A number of items were added to the list of activities giving rise to taxable income. For example, the sale, lease, and free transfer of immovable assets allocated to the business now constitute taxable income.  All payments made by a resident of Rwanda on services performed abroad, other than those consumed abroad, constitute taxable income. New articles were added to address transfer pricing rules, preconditions to participate in public tenders, and taxation rules for liberal professionals and consultants.  The new law can be accessed here: http://www.primature.gov.rw/media-publication/publication/latest-offical-gazettes.html?no_cache=1&tx_drblob_pi1 percent5BdownloadUid percent5D=464  

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Since 2010, a Competition and Consumer Protection Unit was created at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) to address competition and consumer protection issues.  Rwanda has legislation in place to regulate competition. The government is setting up the Rwanda Inspectorate and Competition Authority (RICA), a new independent body with the mandate to promote fair competition among producers.  The body will reportedly aim to ensure consumer protection and enforcement of standards. RICA will serve as a regulatory body to enforce technical regulations and laws related to trade, while the RSB will continue to set quality standards for goods.  To read more on competition laws in Rwanda, please visit: http://www.minicom.gov.rw/index.php?id=136 . 

Market forces determine most prices in Rwanda, but in some cases, the GOR intervenes to fix prices for items considered sensitive in Rwanda.  RURA, in consultation with relevant ministries, sets prices for petroleum products, water, electricity, and public transport. MINICOM and the Ministry of Agriculture have fixed farm gate prices, or the market value of a cultivated product minus the selling costs, for agricultural products like coffee, maize, and Irish potatoes  from time to time. On international tenders, a 10 percent price preference is available for local bidders, including those from regional economic integration bodies in which Rwanda is a member.

Some U.S. companies have expressed frustration that while authorities require them to operate as a formal enterprise that meets all Rwandan regulatory requirements, some local competitors are informal businesses that do not operate in full compliance with all regulatory requirements.  Other investors have claimed unfair treatment compared to ruling party-aligned or politically connected business competitors in securing public incentives and contracts.

More information on specific types of agreements, decisions and practices considered to be anti-competitive, or abuse of dominant position, in Rwanda can be found here: https://rura.rw/fileadmin/Documents/docs/ml08.pdf 

Expropriation and Compensation

The 2015 Investment Code forbids the expropriation of investors’ property in the public interest unless the investor is fairly compensated.  A new expropriation law came into force in 2015, which included more explicit protections for property owners.  Though Rwandan law is clear that private property will be expropriated only in the public interest and after appropriate compensation following market rates, property owners have complained about the definition of “public interest,” valuation procedures, payment levels, and timing of payments.  A number of property owners have protested expropriation of their property by the City of Kigali and claimed that the compensation offered was below market value and not in accordance with the expropriation law. 

A 2017 study by Rwanda Civil Society Platform argues that the government conducts expropriations on short notice and does not provide sufficient time or support to help landowners fairly negotiate compensation.  The report includes a survey that found only 27 percent of respondents received information about planned expropriation well in advance of action.  While mechanisms exist to challenge the government’s offer, the report notes that landowners are required to pay all expenses for the second valuation, a prohibitive cost for rural farmers or the urban poor.  Media have reported that wealthier landowners have the ability to challenge valuations and have received higher amounts. 

Political exiles and other embattled opposition figures have been involved in taxation lawsuits and “abandoned properties” that led to the auctioning of properties, allegedly at below market values. 

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Rwanda is signatory to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI).  ICSID seeks to remove impediments to private investment posed by non-commercial risks, while ATI covers risk against restrictions on import and export activities, inconvertibility, expropriation, war, and civil disturbances. 

Rwanda ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in 2008. 

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Rwanda is a member of the East African Court of Justice for the settlement of disputes arising from or pertaining to the EAC.  Rwanda has also acceded to the 1958 New York Arbitration Convention and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency convention.  Under the U.S.-Rwanda BIT, U.S. investors have the right to bring investment disputes before neutral, international arbitration panels.  Disputes between U.S. investors and the GOR in recent years have been resolved through international arbitration, court judgments, or out of court settlements.  Judgments by foreign courts and contract clauses that abide by foreign law are accepted and enforced by local courts, though they lack capacity and experience to adjudicate cases governed by non-Rwandan law.  There have been a number of private investment disputes in Rwanda, though the government has yet to stand as complainant, respondent, or third party in a WTO dispute settlement. Rwanda has been a party to two cases at ICSID since Rwanda became a member in 1963; one of these cases is an ongoing case brought by an American investor against Rwanda.  SOEs are also subject to domestic and international disputes. In 2018, SOEs party to a suit both won and lost several judgments by the Supreme Court, while other cases were settled under arbitration. 

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

In 2012, the GOR launched the Kigali International Arbitration Center (KIAC).  According to press reports, the KIAC has reviewed 100 cases worth USD 50 million in claims involving petitions of 18 different nationalities since 2012.  Some businesses report being pressured to use the Rwanda-based KIAC for the seat of arbitration in contracts signed with the GOR. Because KIAC has a short track record and the location of its domicile, these companies would prefer arbitration take place in a third country, and some have reported difficulty in securing international financing due a KIAC provision in their contracts. 

Bankruptcy Regulations

Rwanda ranks 58 out of 190 economies for resolving insolvency in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report.  It takes an average of two and a half years to conclude bankruptcy proceedings in Rwanda. The recovery rate for creditors on insolvent firms was reported at 19 cents on the dollar, with judgments typically made in local currency. 

The 2009 Insolvency Law clarified standards for beginning insolvency proceedings, preventing the separation of the debtor’s assets during reorganization proceedings, setting clear time limits for the submission of a reorganization plan, implementing an automatic stay of creditors’ enforcement actions, introducing provisions on voidable transactions and the approval of reorganization plans, and establishing additional safeguards for creditors in reorganization proceedings.

In April 2018, the GOR instituted a new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law.  One major changes is the introduction of an article on “pooling of assets” allowing creditors to pursue parent companies and other members of the group, in case a subsidiary is in liquidation.  Article 121 states that “On application of the liquidator, creditor or shareholder, the court may order that: 

1) any company that is or has been a related company of the company in liquidation must pay to the liquidator the whole or part of any or all of the claims made in the liquidation; 2) where two or more related companies are in liquidation, the liquidations in respect of each company must proceed together, as if they were one company, to the extent the court so orders and subject to such terms and conditions as the court may impose.”  

The new law can be accessed here:  http://org.rdb.rw/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Insolvency-Law-OGNoSpecialbisdu29April2018.pdf  

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The 2015 Investment Code offers a package of benefits and incentives to both domestic and foreign investors under certain conditions, including:

For an international company with its headquarters or regional office in Rwanda, a preferential corporate income tax rate of 0 percent; 

  • For any investor, a preferential corporate income tax rate of 15 percent;
  • Corporate income tax holiday of up to seven years;
  • Exemption of customs tax for products used in Export Processing Zones (EPZ);
  • Exemption of capital gains tax;
  • VAT refund;
  • Accelerated depreciation; and
  • Immigration incentives.

Further details on benefits under the Investment Code can be accessed here:  http://businessprocedures.rdb.rw/media/Investiment_promotion_law.pdf .  

Poorly coordinated efforts between the RDB, RRA, MINICOM, and the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration can lead to inconsistent application of incentives, according to investors.  Investors reported that tax incentives included in deals signed by the RDB are not honored by the RRA in all cases or sometimes not in a timely manner. Additionally, investors continue to face challenges receiving payment for services rendered for GOR projects, VAT refund delays, and/or expatriation of profits.  In 2016, the GOR instituted a law governing public-private partnership (PPPs) as a step toward courting investments in key development projects.  The law provides a legal framework concerning establishment, implementation, and management of PPPs. Detailed guidelines for the law can be accessed here:  http://rdb.rw/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PPP-Guidelines.pdf   

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Rwanda has established the KSEZ, which was set up through the merger of former Kigali Free Trade Zone and the Kigali Industrial Park projects.  SEZs in Rwanda are regulated by the SEZ Authority of Rwanda (SEZAR), based at the RDBLand in KSEZ is acquired through Prime Economic Zone Secretariat, a private developer, under the regulations of SEZAR.  The price per square meter is USD 62, and the minimum size that can be acquired is one hectare.  Bonded warehouse facilities are now available both in and outside of Kigali for use by businesses importing duty-free materials.  The GOR has established a number of benefits for investors operating in the SEZs, including tax and land ownership advantages. A company basing itself in the SEZ can also opt to be a part of the Economic Processing Zone.  A number of criteria must be satisfied in order to qualify, such as extensive records on equipment, materials and goods, suitable offices, security provisions, and a number of property constraints. Holding an EPZ license will exempt a company from VAT, import duties, and corporate tax.  The company is then obliged to export a minimum of 80 percent of production. Even after considering savings due to these government incentives, a few investors reported that land in the SEZs was significantly more expensive than land outside the zones. The GOR has stated that there are no fiscal, immigration, or customs incentives beyond those provided in the 2015 Investment Code, though media has occasionally speculated that certain investors received additional incentives.  The negative list of goods prohibited under the EAC Customs Management Act applies in SEZs. In November 2018, the GOR approved the Bugesera Special Economic Zone (BSEZ), located 45 minutes from Kigali. 

Procedural information and cost involved in operating in SEZs can be accessed here: https://businessprocedures.rdb.rw/procedure/238/189?l=en   

The SEZ policy was revised in 2018.  The new policy introduces performance incentives to include indicators such as exports, full time jobs, local supply contracts, and domestic market recapture.  Under the new policy, foreigners and locals may only lease land (formerly, foreign investors were able to purchase land outright in SEZ). To read more on the new policy, please see:  http://www.minicom.gov.rw/fileadmin/minicom_publications/documents/SEZ_Policy_-_January_2018_v2.pdf  

Rwanda created the Export Growth Facility (EGF) in 2015, with an initial capital of RWF 500 million, administered by the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD).  German KfW Development Bank injected €8.5 million in support of the fund.  The pilot program targets SMEs with export sales below USD 1 million.  Priority sectors include horticulture, agro-processing, and manufacturing.  The facility has three windows: an investment catalyst fund, a matching grant fund for market entry costs, and an export guarantee facility.  Investment catalyst funds support private sector investments in export-orientated production through a 6.5 percent subsidy on market interest rates (normally between 16-20 percent).  The matching grant fund provides grants (50 percent of the need) for expenditure on specific market entry costs (export strategy elaboration, export promotion, compliance with standards, etc.).  The export guarantee fund provides short-term guarantees to commercial banks financing exporters’ pre- and post-shipment operations. The export guarantee component is not yet operational. The facility supports both locally and foreign-owned companies in Rwanda; at least one American company has already received a loan. 

Rwanda created the Business Development Fund (BDF) in 2011 to provide support to SMEs in credit guarantees, matching grants, asset leasing, and advisory services.  BDF works with banks to provide guarantees between 50-75 percent of required collaterals. The maximum guarantee is RWF 500 million for agriculture projects and RWF 300 million for other sectors, for a maturity period of up to 10 years. 

The GOR also manages the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) to spur investment in green innovation.  The UK Aid Department for International Development, KFW, and other donors have invested in the fund.  FONERWA claims projects it supports have created more than 137,000 green jobs to date.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

There is no legal obligation for nationals to own shares in foreign investments or requirement that shares of foreign equity be reduced over time.  However, the government strongly encourages local participation in foreign investments. 

There is no requirement for private companies to store their data in Rwanda.  Under the National Information and Telecommunication Infrastructure plan, Rwanda is pushing to become a regional ICT hub and has constructed a National Data Center.  The facility acts as the country’s central data storage facility and houses applications used by government institutions. There is no requirement for foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption technology.  IT companies dealing with government data cannot store it outside Rwanda or transfer it without GOR approval. 

Some investors have cited the GOR’s reluctance to support visas for expatriate staff as a significant limitation on doing business in Rwanda.  There is no formal requirement that a certain number of senior officials or board members be citizens of Rwanda. Under the 2015 Investment Code, the government allows registered those who invest a minimum of USD 250,000 to hire up to three expatriate employees, without the need to conduct a labor market test in Rwanda.  Investors who wish to hire more than three expatriate employees must conduct a labor market test, unless the available position is listed on Rwanda’s “Occupations in Demand” list. The Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration does not always honor the employment and immigration commitments of investment certificates and deals, according to a number of investors.  Investors should be aware that applicants from other EAC countries are given hiring preference over other expatriates.

While the government does not impose conditions on the transfer of technology, it does encourage foreign investors, without legal obligation, to transfer technology and expertise to local staff to help develop Rwanda’s human capital.  There is no legal requirement that investors must purchase from local sources or export a certain percentage of their output, though the government offers tax incentives for the latter. Unless stipulated in a contract or memorandum of understanding characterizing the purchase of privatized enterprises, performance requirements are not imposed as a condition for establishing, maintaining, or expanding other investments.  Such requirements are imposed chiefly as a condition to tax and investment incentives. The GOR is not involved in assessing the type and source of raw materials for performance, but the RSB determines quality standards for some product categories. 

Rwanda requires that all U.S. citizens possess a visa to enter Rwanda.  A 30-day tourist visa can be purchased for USD 30 upon arrival at Kigali International Airport or at a land border.  Accepted forms of payment include cash (Rwandan francs or U.S. dollars printed in 2006 or later) and credit cards (Visa or MasterCard).  Rwanda requires proof of yellow fever vaccination for travelers coming from a country where yellow fever is endemic or where there is an outbreak of yellow fever.  U.S. citizens planning to remain in Rwanda for more than 30 days must apply for a permit within 15 days of arrival. Departures after the visa ending date are fined on a daily basis.  The government generally processes visa applications for U.S. citizen investors in a timely manner. However, some investors have complained that the application process for work permits and extended stay visas (over 60 days) has become onerous.  Immigration authorities frequently request extra documentation detailing applicants’ qualifications and, at times, have taken several months to adjudicate work permit cases. Applicants for work permits may facilitate the process by ensuring that they travel with a) original police background checks, preferably notarized, b) educational documents on original letterhead, and c) a certified copy of diplomas if the original is not carried.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The law protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights.  Investors involved in commercial agriculture have leasehold titles and are able to secure property titles, if necessary.  The 2015 Investment Code states that investors shall have the right to own private property, whether individually or in association with others.  Foreign investors can acquire real estate, though there is a general limit on land ownership. While local investors can acquire land through leasehold agreements that extend to 99 years, the lease period for foreigners cannot exceed 49 years, in most cases.  Such leases are theoretically renewable, but the law is new enough that foreigners generally have not yet attempted to renew a lease. Mortgages are a nascent but growing financial product in Rwanda, increasing from 770 properties in 2008 to 13,394 in 2017, according to the RDB. 

Intellectual Property Rights

The 2015 Investment Code guarantees protection of investors’ intellectual property rights (IPR) related to technology transfer.  As a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Rwanda is automatically a member of African Regional Intellectual Property Organization.  Rwanda is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is working toward harmonizing its legislation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  Rwanda has yet to ratify the WIPO internet treaties.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) are the main regulatory bodies for Rwanda’s IPR laws.  The RDB registers IPR and provides a certificate of ownership title. Every registered IPR title is published in the Official Gazette. The fees payable for substance examination and registration of IPR apply equally for domestic and foreign applicants.  Since 2016, any power of attorney granted by a non-resident to a Rwandan-based industrial property agent must be notarized (previously, a signature would have been sufficient). The RSB inspects imported products to ensure compliance with standards. Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so companies should consider applying for trademark and patent protection in a timely manner.  It is the responsibility of the copyright holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, including retaining their own counsel and advisors.  Through the RSB and the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Rwanda has worked to increase protection of IPR, but many goods that violate patents, especially pharmaceutical products, still make it to market.  As many products available in Rwanda are re-exports from other EAC countries, it may be difficult to identify counterfeit goods without regional cooperation.

Several investors reported difficulties in registering patents and enforcing their IPR against infringement in a timely manner.  A few companies have expressed concern over inappropriate use of their IP.  While the government has offered rhetorical support, enforcement has been mixed.  In some cases infringement has stopped but, in other cases, companies have been frustrated with the slow pace of receiving judgment or in receiving compensation after successful legal cases.

IPR legislation covering patents, trademarks, and copyrights was approved in 2009.  The Registration Service Agency, which is part of the RDB, was established in 2008 and has improved IPR protection by registering all commercial entities and facilitating business identification and branding.  Rwanda conducts anti-counterfeit goods campaigns on a regular basis, but statistics on IP enforcement are not publicly available.

Rwanda 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 http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Rwanda’s capital markets are relatively immature and lack complexity.   Many U.S. investors express concern that local access to affordable credit is a serious challenge in Rwanda.  Interest rates are high for the region, banks offer predominantly short-term loans, collateral requirements can be higher than 100 percent of the value of the loan, and Rwandan commercial banks rarely issue significant loan values.  The prime interest rate is 16-18 percent. Large international transfers are subject to authorization. Investors who seek to borrow more than USD 1 million must often engage in multi-party loan transactions, usually leveraging support from larger regional banks.  Credit terms generally reflect market rates, and foreign investors are able to negotiate credit facilities from local lending institutions if they have collateral and “bankable” projects. In some cases, preferred financing options may be available through specialized funds including the Export Growth Fund, BRD, or FONERWA.

Only eight companies have publicly listed and traded equities in Rwanda.  Rwanda Capital Market Authority was established in 2017 to regulate the capital market, commodity exchange and related contracts, collective investment schemes, and warehouse receipts.  Most capital market transactions are domestic. While offers can attract some international interests, they are rare. Rwanda is one of a few sub-Saharan African countries to have issued sovereign bonds.  Four new local currency bonds for USD 61.8 million in total were issued in 2018, with an average annual yield of 12.1 percent. BNR has implemented reforms in recent years that are helping to create a secondary market for Rwandan treasury bonds.  In November 2018, the IMF completed its tenth review of Rwanda’s economic performance under the Policy Support Instrument, which can be found here: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2018/11/30/Rwanda-Tenth-Review-Under-the-Policy-Support-Instrument-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-46407

Money and Banking System

Rwanda’s financial sector remains highly concentrated.  Around 76 percent of all bank assets are held by five of the largest commercial banks (Bank of Kigali, BPR Atlas Mara, I&M Bank, COGEBANQUE, and Equity Bank).  The largest, partially state-owned Bank of Kigali (BoK), holds more than 30 percent of all assets. The banking sector holds around 65 percent of total financial sector assets in Rwanda.  Non-performing loans constitute 6.9 percent of all banking sector assets as of June 2018. Foreign banks are permitted to establish operations in Rwanda, with several Kenyan-based banks in the country.  Atlas Mara Limited acquired a majority equity stake in Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) in 2016. BPR/Atlas Mara has the largest number of branch locations and is Rwanda’s second largest bank after BoK. In total, Rwanda’s banks have assets of USD 3 billion, according to the BNR, the country’s Central Bank.  The IMF gives the BNR high marks for its effective monetary policy. BNR introduced a new monetary policy framework in 2019, which shift its tools toward inflation-targeting monetary framework in place of a quantity-of-money framework.

The private sector has limited access to credit instruments.  Prospective account holders are expected to provide proof of residency.  Most Rwandan banks are conservative and risk-averse, trading in a limited range of commercial products, though additional products are becoming available as the industry matures and competition increases.  Rwanda has not lost any correspondent banking relationships in the past three years, and all banks are expected to conform to Basel prudential principles. Most financial services in Rwanda are VAT-exempt. 

BNR reported that commercial banks made a total net profit of USD 26 million in 2018, but their liquidity ratio was 49 percent (compared to BNR’s required minimum of 20 percent), suggesting reluctance toward making loans.  Local banks often generate significant revenue from holding government debt and from charging a variety of fees to banking customers. Credit cards are becoming more common in major cities, especially at locations frequented by foreigners, but are not used in rural areas.  Rwandans primarily rely on cash or mobile money to conduct transactions.  

In 2018, the capital adequacy ratio grew to 21.4 percent from 20.8 percent over the year, well above the minimum of 15 percent, suggesting the Rwanda banking sector continues to be generally risk averse. The number of debit cards in the country grew 8 percent year over year to 945,000 (only 18 percent of Rwandans have bank accounts), and the number of mobile banking customers grew 22 percent to 1,266,000. 

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

In 1995, the government abandoned a dollar peg and established a floating exchange rate regime, under which all lending and deposit interest rates were liberalized.  BNR publishes an official exchange rate on a daily basis, which is typically within a 2 percent range of rates seen in the local market. Some investors report occasional difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange.  Rwanda generally runs a large trade deficit, estimated at 10 percent of GDP in 2018. The Rwandan franc depreciated against the U.S. dollar by 8.9 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2017, and 3.5 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2018, according to BNR.

Transacting locally in foreign currency is prohibited in Rwanda.  Regulations set a ceiling on the foreign currency that can leave the country per day.  In addition, regulations specify limits for sending money outside the country; BNR must approve any transaction that exceed these limits.  

Most local loans are in local currency.  In December 2018, BNR issued a new directive on lending in foreign currency which requires the borrow to have a turnover of at least RWF 50 million or equivalent in foreign currency, have a known income stream in foreign currency not below 150 percent of the total installment repayments, and the repayments must be in foreign currency.  The collateral pledged by non-resident borrowers must be valued at 150 percent of the value of the loan. In addition, BNR requires banks to report regularly on loans granted in foreign currency.  

Full guidance can be accessed here: https://www.bnr.rw/fileadmin/AllDepartment/FinancialStability/lawsandregulations/DIRECTIVE_No_09-2018.pdf  

Remittance Policies

Investors can remit payments from Rwanda only through authorized commercial banks.  There is no limit on the inflow of funds, although local banks are required to notify BNR of all transfers over USD 10,000 to mitigate the risk of potential money laundering.  A withholding tax of 15 percent to repatriate profits is considered high by a number of investors given that a 30 percent tax is already charged on profits, making the whole tax burden 45 percent.  Additionally, there are some restrictions on the outflow of export earnings. Companies generally must repatriate export earnings within three months after the goods cross the border. Tea exporters must deposit sales proceeds shortly after auction in Mombasa, Kenya.  Repatriated export earnings deposited in commercial banks must match the exact declaration the exporter used crossing the border. Rwandans working overseas can make remittances to their home country without impediment. It usually takes up to three days to transfer money using SWIFT financial services.  The concentrated nature of the Rwandan banking sector limits choice, and some U.S. investors have expressed frustration with the high fees charged for exchanging francs to dollars.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

In 2012, the Rwandan government launched the Agaciro Development Fund (ADF), a sovereign wealth fund that includes investments from Rwandan citizens and the international diaspora.  In November 2018, the fund was worth USD 58.8 million.  The ADF operates under the custodianship of BNR and reports quarterly and annually to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, its supervisory authority.  ADF is a member of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds and is committed to the Santiago Principles.  ADF only operates in Rwanda.  In addition to returns on investments, citizens and private sector voluntary contributions, and other donations, ADF receives RWF 5 billion every year from tax revenues and 5 percent of proceeds from every public asset that is privatized.  The fund also gets 5 percent of royalties from minerals and other natural resources each year.  The government has transferred a number of its shares in private enterprises to the management of ADF including those in the BoK, Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC), Gasabo 3D Ltd, Africa Olleh Services (AoS), Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks (KTRN), and the Dubai World Nyungwe Lodge.  ADF invests mainly in Rwanda. While the fund can invest in foreign non-fixed income investments, such as publicly listed equity, private equity, and joint ventures, the AGDF Corporate Trust Ltd (the fund’s investment arm) held no financial assets and liabilities in foreign currency, according to the 2017 annual report.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Rwandan law allows private enterprises to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations.  Since 2006, the GOR has made efforts to privatize SOEs; reduce the government’s non-controlling shares in private enterprises; and attract FDI, especially in the ICT, tourism, banking, and agriculture sectors, but progress has been slow.  Current SOEs include water and electricity utilities, as well as companies in construction, ICT, aviation, mining, insurance, agriculture, finance, and other investments. The government continues to own significant and sometimes controlling interests of companies in mining, construction, banking, hotels, food production, and other sectors.  Some investors complain about competition from state-owned and ruling party-aligned businesses. SOEs and utilities appear in the national budget, but the financial performance of most SOEs is only detailed in an annex that is not publicly available. The most recent budget report of the OAG also covers SOEs and has sections criticizing the management of some of the organizations.  That public report can be found here: (http://oag.gov.rw/documents/reports-to-parliament/performance-audit-reports/  ).  SOEs are governed by boards with most members having other government positions.  Each public company is under a government line ministry. 

The GOR supports some public enterprises directly from the national budget through net lending estimated at about 2 percent of the GDP in 2018.  About 1 percent of GDP is a subsidy to RwandAir for its operational and capital expansion, and the rest of lending includes support to export promotion activities and debt-servicing costs for other public enterprises.

State-owned non-financial corporations include Ngali Holdings, Horizon Group Ltd, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, REG, Water and Sanitation Corporation, RwandAir, National Post Office, Rwanda Printery Company Ltd, King Faisal Hospital, Muhabura Multichoice Ltd, Prime Holdings, Rwanda Grain and Cereals Corporation, Kinazi Cassava Plant, and the Rwanda Inter-Link Transport Company.  State-owned financial corporations include the NBR, Development Bank of Rwanda, Special Guarantee Fund, Rwanda National Investment Trust Ltd, ADF, BDF and the Rwanda Social Security Board.

The GOR has interests in the BoK, Rwanda Convention Bureau, BSC, CIMERWA, Gasabo 3D Ltd, AoS, KTRN, Dubai World Nyungwe Lodge, and Akagera Management Company, among others.  

Ruling Party (Rwandan Patriotic Front) investment arm Crystal Ventures has subsidiaries such as Inyange Industries, NPD Ltd., Bourbon Coffee, ISCO Security, Ruliba Clays, Real Contractors, East African Granite Industries, Nexus, and Stone Craft. 

Privatization Program

Rwanda continues to carry out a privatization program that has attracted foreign investors in strategic areas ranging from telecommunications and banking to tea production and tourism.  Since the program started in 1995, 56 companies have been fully privatized, seven were liquidated, and 20 more were in the process of privatization by 2017 (latest data available).  The RDB’s Strategic Investment Department is responsible for implementing and monitoring the privatization program. 

Some observers have questioned the transparency of certain transactions, as a number of transactions were undertaken through mutual agreements directly between the government and the private investor, some of whom have personal relationships with senior government officials, rather than public offerings.  In February-March 2017, the government sold its 19.8 percent stake in I&M Bank to help finance its equity stake in the Bugesera Airport, currently under construction.  

In 2016, the OAG produced a report criticizing RDB’s management of the privatization program. The report can be accessed here: http://www.oag.gov.rw/fileadmin/user_upload/Performance_Reports/
STRATEGIC_MANAGEMENT_OF_PRIVATIZATION_ACTIVITIES.pdf
 

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a growing awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) within Rwanda, and several foreign-owned companies operating locally implement CSR programs.  Rwanda implements the OECD’s Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.  Rwanda also implements the International Tin Supply Chain Initiative tracing scheme.  In 2016, the Better Sourcing Program began an alternative mineral tracing scheme in Rwanda. Rwanda also has guidelines on corporate governance by publically listed companies. 

In recognition of the firm’s strong commitment to CSR, the U.S. Department of State awarded Sorwathe, a U.S.-owned tea producer in Kinihira, Rwanda, the Secretary of State’s 2012 Award for Corporate Excellence for Small and Medium Enterprises.  In 2015, U.S. firm Gigawatt Global was also a finalist for the Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence in the environmental sustainability category.

9. Corruption

Rwanda is ranked among the least corrupt countries in Africa, with Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perception Index putting the country among Africa’s four least corrupt nations and 48th in the world.  The government maintains a high-profile anti-corruption effort, and senior leaders articulate a consistent message emphasizing that combating corruption is a key national goal. The government investigates corruption allegations and generally punishes those found guilty.  High-ranking officials accused of corruption often resign during the investigation period, and many have been prosecuted. Rwanda has ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention. It is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. It is also a signatory to the African Union Anticorruption Convention.  Giving and accepting a bribe is a criminal act, and penalties depend on circumstances surrounding the specific case. U.S. firms have identified the perceived lack of government corruption in Rwanda as a key incentive for investing in the country. 

Some firms have reported occurrences of petty corruption in the customs clearing process, but there are few or no reports of corruption in transfers, dispute settlement, regulatory system, taxation, or investment performance requirements.  A local company cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. A bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a crime in Rwanda. The OAG has pursued many corruption cases in recent years, most of which involved misuse of public funds.  The Rwanda Governance Board monitored governance more broadly and promoted mechanisms to control corruption. The RRA’s Anticorruption Unit has a code of conduct and an active mechanism for internal discipline. The Office of the Ombudsman, the National Tender Board, RURA, and the NSB also enforced regulations regarding corruption. 

A new corruption law was passed in September 2018, extending definitions of corruption and embezzlement and removing the statute of limitations on such crimes.  It also removes criminal liability for a person who gives or receives an illegal benefit and informs the justice organs before the commencement of criminal investigation by providing information and evidence.

The new law can be accessed here: http://www.rlrc.gov.rw/fileadmin/user_upload/Laws2/ percent5BHOME percent5DMOST percent20RECENT percent20LAWS/New percent20law percent20fighting percent20against percent20Corruption percent20 percent282018 percent29.pdf  

There are no local industry or non-profit groups offering services for vetting potential local investment partners, but the Ministry of Justice keeps judgments online, making it a source of information on companies and individuals in Rwanda at www.judiciary.gov.rw/home/  .  The Rwanda National Public Prosecution Authority issues criminal records on demand to applicants at www.nppa.gov.rw  

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Mr. Anastase Murekezi
Chief Ombudsman
Ombudsman (Umuvunyi)
P.O Box 6269, Kigali, Rwanda
Telephone: +250 252587308
omb1@ombudsman.gov.rw / sec.permanent@ombudsman.gov.rw

Mr. Felicien Mwumvaneza
Commissioner for Quality Assurance Department (Anti-Corruption Unit)
Rwanda Revenue Authority
Avenue du Lac Muhazi, P.O. Box 3987, Kigali, Rwanda
Telephone: +250 252595504 or +250 788309563
felicien.mwumvaneza@rra.gov.rw / commissioner.quality@rra.gov.rw 

Mr. Obadiah Biraro
Auditor General
Office of the Auditor General
Avenue du Lac Muhazi, P.O. Box 1020, Kigali, Rwanda
Telephone: +250 78818980
oag@oag.gov.rw

Contact at “watchdog” organization

Mr. Apollinaire Mupiganyi
Executive Director
Transparency International Rwanda
P.O: Box 6252 Kigali, Rwanda
Telephone: +250 788309563
amupiganyi@transparencyrwanda.org / mupiganyi@yahoo.fr

10. Political and Security Environment

Rwanda is a stable country with relatively little violence.  According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, Rwanda is the ninth safest country in the world.  Investors have cited the conducive political and security environment as an important driver of investments.  A strong police and military provide a security umbrella that minimizes potential criminal activity. 

The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling near the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border, given the possibility of fighting and cross-border attacks involving the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and other armed groups in the region. The FDLR includes former soldiers and supporters of the regime that orchestrated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.  Relations between Burundi and Rwanda are tense. There is a risk of cross-border incursions and armed clashes, and accusations in both directions contend that the countries harbor their neighbor’s rebel forces.  In 2018, there were a few incidents of sporadic fighting in Nyaruguru district and Nyungwe National Park. 

Grenade attacks aimed at the local populace occurred on a recurring basis between 2008 and 2014 in Rwanda.  There have been several cross-border attacks in Western Rwanda on Rwandan police and military posts reportedly since 2016.  Despite occasional violence along the Rwanda-DRC border and the ongoing political crisis in neighboring Burundi, there have been no incidents involving politically motivated damage to investment projects or installations since the late 1990s.  Relations with Uganda are also increasingly tense, but leaders continue to emphasize they are seeking a political solution.

Please see the following link for State Department Country Specific Information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Rwanda.html 

11. Labor Policies and Practices

General labor is available, but Rwanda suffers from a shortage of skilled labor, including accountants, lawyers, engineers, tradespeople, and technicians.  Higher institutes of technology, private universities, and vocational institutes are improving and producing more and better-trained graduates each year. In 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) closed several colleges due to sub-standard practice allegations.  The Rwanda Workforce Development Authority sponsors programs to support both short and long-term professional trainings targeting key industries in Rwanda. Carnegie Mellon University opened a campus in Kigali in 2012–its first in sub-Saharan Africa–and currently offers a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering  and Master of Science in Information Technology.  In 2013, the nonprofit university program, Kepler, was established for students to work toward a U.S.-accredited degree through online learning and in-person seminars.  Oklahoma Christian University offers an online Master of Business Administration program with on-site support in Kigali. In 2012, the government extended basic compulsory education from nine to 12 years.  In 2009, the government designated English, rather than French, as the language of instruction for students from grade four onwards. 

Investors are strongly encouraged to hire Rwandan nationals whenever possible.  According to the Investment Code, a registered investor who invests an equivalent of at least USD 250,000 may recruit three foreign employees.  However, a number of foreign investors reported difficulties importing qualified staff in accordance with the Investment Code due to Rwandan immigration rules and practices.  In some cases, these problems occurred even though investors had signed agreements with the government regarding the number of foreign employees.  

Companies find skill deficits in many sectors when hiring.  The Rwandan education system continues to struggle with a shortage of resources and capacity, including due to a shortage of teachers qualified to teach in English after the 2009 transition away from French.  A study of dropout and repetition rates conducted in collaboration with MINEDUC and UNICEF published in 2016 found that only 38 percent of those enrolled complete primary education and even a smaller percentage successfully complete secondary education (16 percent complete lower secondary and 10 percent higher secondary level).  The official 2018 literacy rate for individuals aged 15 and above is 69.5 percent for women and 77.6 percent for men, according to the GOR. Functional literacy rates are lower according to independent evaluations, particularly in rural areas.  

Rwanda has ratified all of the International Labor Organization’s eight core conventions.  Policies to protect workers in special labor conditions exist, but enforcement remains inconsistent.  The government encourages, but does not require, on-the-job training and technology transfer to local employees.  The law restricts voluntary collective bargaining by requiring prior authorization or approval by authorities and requiring binding arbitration in cases of non-conciliation.  The law provides some workers the right to conduct strikes, subject to numerous restrictions, but strikes are very rare.  There is no unemployment insurance or other social safety net programs for workers laid off for economic reasons.  The legal framework for employment rights for disabled persons is not as strong as in the United States, but the government and some employers are making efforts to offer reasonable accommodations. 

In 2000, the government revised the national labor code to eliminate gender discrimination, restrictions on the mobility of labor, and wage controls.  NISR’s 2016/2017 Fifth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, released in December 2018, found that approximately 10.4 percent of children in Rwanda ages 6-17 are engaged in economic activities, particularly in agriculture and in domestic service.  Tea has been included on the U.S. government’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor since 2010, with an estimated 13,000 children involved in the sector, primarily on small, family-owned farms that sell harvests to larger cooperatives. The U.S. Department of State have no evidence that children are employed by either tea producers or tea cooperatives in Rwanda.  The U.S. Department of Labor-financed “REACH-T” project successfully removed approximately 5,000 children engaged in, or at risk of, child labor in the country’s 12 tea-producing districts between 2013 and 2017. Private firms are responsible for their local employees’ income tax payments and Rwanda Social Security Board pension contributions. For full-time workers, these payments amount to more than 30 percent of take-home pay, which can be a disadvantage if competing firms are in the informal economy and not compliant with these requirements. 

Labor laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investment.  There are no labor law provisions in SEZs or industrial parks, which differ from national labor laws.  Collective bargaining is not common in Rwanda. Few professional associations fix minimum salaries for their members and some investors have expressed concern that labor law enforcement is uneven or opaque.

In 2018, a new labor law was passed.  The law states the Ministry of Labor may establish a minimum wage by ministerial order but does not specify an amount.  Among changes in the new law, an employer can now suspend an employee in writing for a period not exceeding 30 days without pay, but the salary will be repaid if the employee proves innocence after the administrative investigation.  The minimum working age remains 16, with an exception for 13-15 year olds to perform light work only in the context of an apprenticeship. Damages paid for an employee victim of unfair dismissal cannot go below three months of salary nor exceed six months of salary.  For employees with more than ten years of experience with the same employer, damages cannot exceed nine months of net salary. The new law imposes a requirement that both parties consent to any amendment to an employment contract, if the amendment results in changes in salary or other benefits.  The probation period has been reduced from six months to three. An employee dismissed for economic or technical reasons and whose dismissal does not last more than six months is entitled to be reinstated without competition when he or she meets the profile required for the position to which the employer seeks to fill. 

More information on major changes can be at the Rwanda Law Reform Commission website here: http://www.rlrc.gov.rw/index.php?id=82&tx_news_pi1 percent5Bnews percent5D=61&tx_news_pi1 percent5Bcontroller percent5D=News&tx_news_pi1 percent5Baction percent5D=detail&cHash=b69f6019dcb0ff868f7ef72b5b034de1  

Full the new labor law, see: https://www.mifotra.gov.rw/fileadmin/news_import/New_Labour_Law_2018.pdf  

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has provided financing and political risk insurance to more than a dozen U.S. projects in Rwanda since 1975.  OPIC officials have expressed interest in expanding the corporation’s portfolio in Rwanda and are currently evaluating potential projects. The Export-Import Bank continues its program to insure short-term export credit transactions involving various payment terms, including open accounts that cover the exports of consumer goods, services, commodities, and certain capital goods.  The 1965 U.S.-Rwanda Investment Incentive Agreement remains in force; Rwanda and the United States are discussing potential updates to this agreement. 

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2018 $9,200  2017 $9,135  http://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/gdp-national-accounts-2018  
www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in Partner Country ($M USD, stock positions) 2016 $87.4  2016 N/A BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm   
Host Country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A 2018 N/A BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm   
Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP 2016 5.2% 2018 N/A N/A


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment From/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/Top Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward Unknown Total Outward
Mauritius $543.7 32.3% N/A
South Africa $169.5 10%
Kenya  $150.3 8.9%
Panama $94.8 5.6%
United States $87.4 5.2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Inward Direct Investment according to IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (http://data.imf.org/CDIS  ).  Data on Rwandan outward FDI is not available.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available; data on Rwanda equity security holdings by nationality is not available.  According to a 2017 BNR report, portfolio investment remains the lowest component of foreign investment in Rwanda mainly due to the low level of financial market development.  Portfolio investment stock increased to USD 100.5 million in 2016, a 3 percent increase from 2015 levels. In 2016, Rwanda recorded foreign portfolio inflows of USD 3 million compared to USD 2.5 million in 2015.  There is no more recent data available for portfolio investment.

14. Contact for More Information

Matthew Steed
Economic and Commercial Officer
United States Embassy
2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie, P.O. Box 28 Kigali, Rwanda
+250-252-596-538
KigaliEcon@state.gov 

Somalia

Executive Summary

Somalia had been without a functioning government for most of the last three decades. The country was torn apart by clan based warfare that destroyed  political, social and economic institutions. The central government collapsed in 1991 and after a decade of lawlessness, international diplomatic efforts were re-energized and in 2000 Djibouti hosted a political conciliation process that led to the formation of Transition Federal Government (TFG), which then had to battle an Islamic movement.  The remnant of that struggle, al-Shabaab, proves to be the biggest threat to a stable Somalia today. 

Somalia moved from a transition government to a globally recognized government in September 2012, after a new president was elected within the country for the first time since 1991.  In another successive peaceful transfer of power the current government was elected in 2017, and has pursued an aggressive policy of fiscal reform. Despite continued progress, the country still faces serious security challenges and political uncertainty.  The leadership of the federal government and federal member states are in constant political tussle that limits efforts at state building while al-Shabaab remains a threat to stability and security. 

Generally, the government has a positive attitude toward direct foreign investment, however, the current investment climate requires improvement before being ready foreign investment.  Formal economic activity is largely restricted to Mogadishu and the other regional capitals that are under the control of the federal government or regional administrations. Corruption is rife in all government sectors and civil courts are largely nonfunctional.  Transparency International’s perception index ranked Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world again for 2018. Somalia’s external debts stands at USD 8 billion USD and the country has not serviced its debt since the fall of the central government in 1991.

Despite this, there has been a positive economic trend over the past couple of years.  According to the IMF, economic growth has rebounded, inflation has slowed and the trade deficit has narrowed.  Accordingly, data through November 2018 show domestic revenue reached USD 161 million, 31 percent higher than the same period in 2017, and the overall cash fiscal position showed a surplus of USD 8 million, according to the IMF.  Economic sectors such telecommunication, agriculture and construction have experienced steady growth in the recent years. Further, Somalia’s government is inviting bids for an upcoming offshore hydrocarbon licensing round.

The IMF is currently helping Somalia reach debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program, under which Somalia has been performing well and meeting benchmarks.  If the country continues its track record of reform and sound economic policies, it is on track to reach the critical Decision Point for debt relief in early 2020. This will make the country eligible to obtain financing from international financial institutions and to avoid the country slipping back to arrears. 

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 180 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 190 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 N/A http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Somalia at the federal and regional level has a positive attitude towards foreign direct investment (FDI).  However, due to political tension, sporadic attacks from insurgency groups, a lack of transparency and widespread corruption in sectors of government Somalia currently remains an unfavorable place for direct foreign investment.

The country passed an Investment Law in 2015 on the promotion and protection of foreign investments.  According to the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the law aims to offer favorable incentives to foreign investors such as tax advantages and guarantees against expropriations.  Under the law, priority is given to foreign investments in the areas of agriculture, livestock, fishing, mineral resources, and industrial activities. More information can be found here http://moci.gov.so/en/investment-law-2/ http://moci.gov.so/en/investment-law-2/  

Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no laws in place currently that deal with the right to private ownership and limits on foreign control. 

Other Investment Policy Reviews

There has not been a third-party investment review undertaken in Somalia. 

The FGS is not a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  In August 2017, Somalia communicated its intent to join the WTO and has since been working through the accession stages including formation of the technical team to lead the negotiations and preparing the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime. 

The FGS rejoined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Community (COMESA) in July 2018.  As a member, Somalis is required to undertake several institutional, policy, and regulatory reforms to meet COMESA free trade protocols and to trade with its member countries. 

The FGS has also applied for East African Community (EAC) membership and is now awaiting the submission of the verification report by the EAC Secretariat before the next Heads of State Summit, scheduled in early 2020, for a decision.  It is highly likely the EAC will approve Somalia to be the seventh member, and this will open up the opportunity for Somalia to formalize trade with its neighbors and allow easy movement of Somali citizens to other EAC member states through acquiring the common EAC passport.

Business Facilitation

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently launched a one-stop shop business registration website. This will reduce time and costs for registering a business in Somalia.  However, the online registration will only be helpful if necessary laws and regulations, such as the Company Law, are in place. The Company Law is currently before parliament for approval. 

World Bank ranked Somalia 190 out 190 in its 2018 Ease of Doing Business survey.

Outward Investment

The Somali government does not have a policy that promotes or incentivizes outward investment.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Somalia does not currently have bilateral investment or taxation treaties with United States or any other country.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Somalia’s regulatory system is largely nonexistent. The country’s 2012 provisional constitution is currently under review.  Many business, taxation, and investment regulations remain from the pre-1991 government and are often ignored or not enforced. 

International Regulatory Considerations

Somalia is a member of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and recently obtained provisional membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with a number of conditions to fulfill before resuming full membership.  Somalia is a member of Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Somalia is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The law derives from four sources, including the Italian and British legal systems, customary xeer principles, and Islamic law.  The majority of citizens rely primarily on customary dispute resolution (xeer), Sharia courts and local imams, or private mediators to resolve most disputes.  The provisional constitution establishes a judiciary system that is independent of the executive and the legislature, however, the necessary laws to operationalize this structure are not in place and the legal system revolves around the executive.  Somalia’s legal system is based in Islamic law which includes mechanisms for addressing commercial disputes. However, due to the prolonged absence of a functioning central government and judicial system, businesses and individuals often resort to Somali customary law.  This informal system provides a framework for settling disputes, including business disputes, through clan and religious leaders. 

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

No laws or regulations related to foreign direct investment are currently in place. The Ministry for Commerce and Industry is working on these laws and there is limited information on regulating foreign direct investment. 

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Competition and Anti-Trust laws do not exist in Somalia.  Local business disputes are informally settled through the intervention of traditional elders. 

Expropriation and Compensation

Somalia is still rebuilding from decades of lawlessness and the legal and regulatory environment is still unsophisticated. There are no laws or acts that define how government or authority can expropriate private properties.  However, the provisional constitution states, “The state may compulsorily acquire property only if doing so is in the public interest. Any person whose property has been acquired in the name of the public interest has the right to just compensation from the State as agreed by the parties or decided by a court.”  Many government-owned properties ended up in private hands illegally after the 1991 collapse of the central government and the current government has now indicated an interest in repossessing these properties.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Somalia is not a party to the convention on the settlement of investment disputes between States and Nationals of other States, known as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), or the New York Convention of 1958.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The government has limited capacity to enforce laws or settle disputes domestically. Members returning from the diaspora, though they operate as Somali businesses rather than foreign entities, own many businesses in Somalia.  Some of the basic laws that would provide the foundation for investor-state dispute settlement, such as the proposed company law, are yet to be enacted and the government is not a signatory to any internationally binding treaty or investment agreement to arbitrate investment disputes.  The government has no bilateral investment treaty or free trade agreement with an investment chapter with United States. There have been no investment disputes involving U.S. persons or other foreign investors for the past 30 years. 

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Somalia government is not signatory to any convention and local courts have limited capacity to enforce dispute resolutions arbitrated by them.  Domestically, people normally resort to a local council of elders and clan elder, or religious leader to settle disputes. In some instances, people seek out al-Shabaab and other outlawed groups to intervene in dispute resolution locally.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Somalia has no bankruptcy laws.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

There are no formal investment incentives available to foreign investors and the government does not issue grants or jointly finance foreign direct investment projects. There are no laws or acts that support investment incentives or grants to foreign investors.  However, informal and ad hoc tax exemptions are used as investment incentives. The Director of Revenue at the Ministry of Finance is legally the authority for granting them, but in practice ministers and often the Prime Minister have offered tax exemptions to foreign investors. 

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

There are no laws or policies that designate any area as a free trade zone or area with special tax treatment.  Somaliland is in the process of finalizing a free trade zone around the Port of Berbera, funded jointly by the Somaliland government and UAE-based DP World. 

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The Somali government does not mandate local employment. There are no laws inhibiting foreign investors or foreign employees.  Currently there are few foreign companies operating in Somalia and those that do that are mostly based within the confines of the secure compound surrounding Mogadishu’s airport.  Most of these companies are contracted by either the government or other international organizations to undertake infrastructure and security-related projects. DP World operates in Somaliland and Puntland to implement port expansion projects in those regions. 

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

When the government collapsed in 1991 there was widespread conflict over land, land-grabbing by warlords, and huge displacement of local populations, especially in southern Somalia.  While there is more security in Somaliland, the movement of internally displaced persons within the region and the return of refugees from outside the country has also contributed to significant land disputes.

The various systems used to manage land are complex and include customary rules and traditions used by Somalia’s clan-based society, Western style laws from the periods of colonization by the Italian and British, remnants of the authoritarian rule of the Barre regime, and Islamic law and tradition.  While there have been no federal efforts to catalogue property ownership and title land, some Federal Member States have made efforts to document land ownership for the purposes of taxation. In addition, land within the major cities, including Mogadishu, is generally documented for taxation purposes. There are no specific regulations regarding land leases or acquisition by foreign investors. 

The national legal framework related to land tenure is largely limited to Article 26 of the provisional constitution which states:

(1) Every person has the right to own, use, enjoy, sell, and transfer property; and

(2) The state may compulsorily acquire property only if doing so is in the public interest. Any person whose property has been acquired in the name of the public interest has the right to just compensation from the State as agreed by the parties or decided by a court.

The autonomous state of Somaliland has a more advanced land tenure legal framework and dispute mechanisms. The Somaliland legal framework addresses urban land management, agricultural land ownership, urban land dispute resolution, and civil procedures for hearing property disputes. 

Intellectual Property Rights

There are no laws protecting or enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR).  The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is currently drafting an IPR law and is in the process of formalizing the Somalia Bureau of Standard (SBS) as the enforcement authority for any future IPR laws. There are no official reports on seizures of counterfeit goods, but the perception is that almost all the goods coming into the country are counterfeit. The government has no capacity to seize or track counterfeit goods entering the country.

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Somalia has no structured financial system.  It also does not have any form of portfolio investment financial products in the market.  The country has no stocks, government bonds, or corporate bonds. 

Money and Banking System

For the last two decades there has been no functioning banking system in Somalia.  Instead, there were informal money transfer systems known as hawalas that allowed the diaspora to transfer money to, from, and within Somalia.  The Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) was re-established in 2009 and is slowly developing the capacity to oversee the licensing and supervision of the money-transfer businesses and commercial banks.  The CBS has registered 7 hawalas and 11 banks to provide financial services. Five of the banks are newly licensed as of April 2019. 

Most Somalis do not have access to formal bank services due to the lack of available branches in many parts of the country as well as difficulty for many Somalis to obtain acceptable forms of identification to open up bank accounts.  There is limited data or information regarding the operations and assets of these privately owned banks and the CBS has no capacity or competency to regulate them to the required standards. At this time no foreign banks or any branch of a foreign bank operate in Somalia, however the Central Bank licensed an Egyptian bank in April 2019 but it is not operational. 

In addition, a few Kenyan banks have recently shown interest in setting up operations in Somalia and are currently undertaking market assessments.

Somalia’s financial risk profile remains high due to legitimate concerns about money laundering and terrorism financing.  The maturity of the financial system is stymied by the lack of any national identification, creating challenges for banks and money transfer services to verify client identity.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

While the official currency for Somalia is the Somali shilling, there is very limited use of the currency in the country’s dollarized economy.  In addition, a significant portion of day to day transactions are conducted through phone-based mobile money managed by the telecommunications sector.  According to the IMF, almost all the current shilling notes in Somalia are counterfeit since the CBS has not issued any new notes since 1991. There is no restriction or limitations in converting or repatriating funds associated with outside investment. The shilling is volatile and fluctuates rapidly against the dollar.  Since there is no government agency which determines monetary policy at this time, the exchange rate is set by several currency traders located in Mogadishu’s Bakara market. The government is planning major reforms in 2019 and 2020 for the CBS and is seeking to reintroduce, in very limited supply, a modernized shilling.

Remittance Policies

There are no remittance policies in place at the moment.

Sovereign Wealth Fund

There are no sovereign wealth funds or any other state-owned investment fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are no fully or partially state-owned active enterprises in Somalia.

Privatization Program

The government does not own any business entity, therefore there are no state-owned entities to privatize. The World Bank has supported development of a public-private partnership law but parliament has not yet acted on the draft law.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There are no laws or regulations that encourage corporate social responsibility or define responsible business conduct.

9. Corruption

The provisional constitution criminalizes several forms of corruption that include abuse of office, embezzlement of funds, and bribery, however there is no legislation  that would allow the government to charge and prosecute cases of corruption. Somalia’s procurement legislation has provisions to address potential conflicts of interest in awarding government contract, but enforcement is lax.  Corruption is rampant in all sectors of government, particularly government procurement. Transparency International (IT) ranks Somalia 180 out 180 in its 2018 perceptions of corruption index.

Somalia’s current government has waged a campaign against public corruption and graft, resulting in high profile dismissals and arrests over the past two years.  However, without a robust asset declaration mechanism, an updated penal code, and a functioning criminal justice system, including police and prosecutorial services, very few penalties exist for corrupt activities.  Efforts to create a national anti-corruption are underway, but moving slowly.

Legislation on government procurement was passed in 2015 and officially, all government contracts must go through an open tender process unless they meet specified conditions for limited competition.  However, in practice this has been slow to be implemented and lucrative contracts are still awarded based on close relationships and favors. Moreover, the FGS has not yet established a Procurement and Concessions Board as required in the Procurement Act, which makes it difficult to ensure transparency and accountability in government procurement activities.  An interim Procurement Board is in place, but meets irregularly. 

Resources to Report Corruption

Currently there is no central agency or office where whistleblowers can report corruption. There is no legal framework to protect whistleblowers. The FGS has not established an Office of the Ombudsman, as provided for in the provisional constitution. In December 2018, the Ministry of Justice and Judiciary Affairs signed a Project Initiation Plan (PIP) with UNDP to help the government strengthen its institutions to fight corruption and promote accountability. This also includes a plan to set up a National Anti-Corruption Commission and develop the necessary laws.

10. Political and Security Environment

Somalia has a long history of political and clan-based violence that destroyed the basic state institution that supports economic development.  Most of Somalia’s infrastructure was destroyed during the 30 years of civil war and violence.  While pockets of stability are slowly growing, Somalia remains an insecure environment.  Attacks by al-Shabaab, ISIS, regional militias and others can impact individuals and businesses throughout the country.  The U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens against traveling to Somalia.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Somalia is emerging from three decades of political instability and economic hardship that destroyed government institution, hence hard data to analyze the current labor market in Somalia is lacking.  According to the UNICEF 2017, 75 percent of the population is under the age of 30 with 67 percent youth unemployed. There is a mismatch between the skills the youth possess and the requirement of the labor market. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is currently in the process of completing the first survey of Somalia’s labor force.  Most labor is unskilled and the majority of Somalis work in the informal sector or agriculture. All sectors of Somalia’s economy lack capacity due to the lack of skills and education in the potential workforce.  

There have been some international projects to improve vocational training, but these reach a small portion of the workforce.  The private sector, most notably the major telecommunications companies, maintain their own training programs in order to meet the needs of their workforce. Somalia current does not have a formal labor or employment policy that would limit the hiring of foreigners.  There are currently no formal labor laws, so there are no restrictions on how the private sector meets its labor needs. There is no social safety net policy. 

Past conflicts between the government and labor unions resulted in a formal complaint to the ILO in 2018.  Since the filing of that complaint, the government has stopped limited the activities of the labor unions and has worked cooperatively with the labor union umbrella organization to draft labor policies and codes. 

The ILO established an office in Mogadishu in 2018 to address the significant gaps between Somalia’s labor practices and international standards.  In February 2019, Somalia’s government, with the support of the ILO and the labor unions, finalized work on a draft employment policy and updated labor codes.  This work is expected to conclude in 2019 and is aimed at providing stability and clarity to employers and investors.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

OPIC currently does not fund any projects in Somalia. There are no active agreements in Somalia.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2016 $471.62 www.worldbank.org/en/country/  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2017 162.9% UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx    


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Shella Biallas
Economic/Commercial Officer
U.S. Mission to Somalia
Email: Biallassa@State.gov

South Sudan

Executive Summary

Trade and investment conditions in South Sudan have slightly improved in the past year, but many challenges remain.  In September 2018, parties to the country’s civil war signed a new peace agreement. While implementation of the agreement is still underway, as of April 2019 hostilities had ceased in most parts of the country.  However the country continues to be plagued by large-scale displacement, widespread food insecurity, severe human-rights abuses, restricted humanitarian access, and harassment of aid workers and journalists.

South Sudan is one of the most oil-dependent economies in the world, but the sector is fraught with corruption.  In March 2018, the United States Department of Commerce added the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Mining, and state-owned oil company Nilepet to the Entity List, barring export of certain U.S. goods or technologies to them due to their contribution to the conflict.

Humanitarian and development aid is a major source of employment in South Sudan.  Difficulties of changing regulations, multiple layers of taxation, and labor harassment faced in this sector may provide insight to difficulties private investors would face.  Bureaucratic impediments faced by NGOs include recruitment interference, airport obstructions, and duplicate registration and permit issues by different levels of authority.

The government has made efforts to simplify and centralize taxation, with the creation of the National Revenue Authority.  The Bank of South Sudan has launched a website where it posts key financial data. However, the legal system is ineffective, underfunded, overburdened, and subject to executive interference and corruption.  High-level government and military officials are immune from prosecution and parties in contract disputes are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until the party agrees to pay a sum of money, often without going to court and sometimes without formal charges.

Other factors inhibiting investment in South Sudan include limited physical infrastructure and a lack of both skilled and unskilled labor. The World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business report ranked South Sudan 185 out of 190 economies on overall ease of doing business. The legal framework governing investment and private enterprises remained underdeveloped as of April 2019.

The U.S. Department of State maintains a Travel Advisory warning against travel to South Sudan due to critically high risks from crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 178 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 185 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 N/A http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 N/A http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

As of April 2019, the government was actively seeking foreign direct investment, but had not undertaken meaningful steps to facilitate it.  Reported unfair practices have included effective expropriation of assets, inconsistent taxation policies, harassment by security services, extortion attempts, and a general perception that foreigners are not afforded fair results in court proceedings or labor disputes.

The country makes few investment facilitation efforts. The South Sudan Investment Authority (SSIA) has been established as has, in theory, a One Stop Shop Investment Center.  However, both organizations are poorly resourced and neither maintains an active web site. There is no business registration website. The ministries that handle company registration include the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Justice. There is no single window registration process, and an investor must visit all the above mentioned agencies to complete the registration of a company.  It is estimated that the registration process could take several months.

In January 2018, South Sudan joined the African Trade and Insurance Agency (ATI), which provides export insurance and other assistance to foreign investors and traders.  Several local lawyers are willing to advise investors and guide them through the registration process, for a fee. The government has held investment conferences and organized an investment roadshow.  There is a private-sector Chamber of Commerce. There is no ombudsman.

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 all forms of remunerative activity, as well as freely establish, acquire and dispose of interests in business enterprises.  Under the investment law, the government of South Sudan leases land to foreign investors for limited periods of time, generally not to exceed 30-60 years, with the possibility of renewal. In the case of leases for mining or quarrying, the lease shall not exceed the life of the mine or quarry.  Under the 2009 Land Act, non-citizens are not allowed to own land in South Sudan.

For investors who wish to start a business in South Sudan, there is a local shareholder requirement but the foreign investor can usually retain majority control.  For foreign-based companies who wish to establish a subsidiary in South Sudan, the local shareholder requirement does not apply. South Sudanese businesses are given priority in several areas, including micro-enterprises, postal services, car hire and taxi operations, public relations, retail, security services, and the cooperative services.  Exact details, and the extent of enforcement of these requirements, are sometimes unclear.

Subject to the Private Security Companies Rules and Regulations of 2013, registering and setting up a protection services security company in South Sudan requires a South Sudanese citizen to hold at least 51 percent of the company.  Companies in the extractives sector must also have a South Sudanese national as part owner, but the exact percentage of ownership required is not always clear.

According to the Investment Act, foreign investors must apply for an investment certificate from the South Sudan Investment Authority to ensure that the investment will be beneficial to the economy or general benefit of South Sudan.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In the past three years, the government has not undergone any third-party investment policy reviews.

Business Facilitation

The Government’s fiscal and economic strategy sees government facilitating investment in economic priority sectors, particularly in agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum, mining, and energy, to unlock South Sudan’s economic potential and boost diversified growth.  Investment incentives exist but the exact procedures are somewhat opaque.

There is no business registration website.  The process to register a business is lengthy and complex, and involves visiting multiple offices at the national, state, and local levels.  The Chamber of Commerce recommends hiring a local lawyer to register a business.

Outward Investment

The Government of South Sudan does not have a policy for promoting or incentivizing outward investment.  The government does not have a policy restricting domestic investors from investing abroad.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

South Sudan signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with Morocco in 2017 but it is not in force.

In November 2018 a South African government fund signed an agreement with South Sudan pledging USD 1 billion for oil exploration and construction of a refinery.  The agreement was made between two state-owned companies but is not a general BIT.

South Sudan does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States and does not have a tax agreement with any other countries.  Contacts have reported that in practice, business owners can be subject to a range of unexpected taxes from a variety of levels of authority.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Bureaucratic procedures for opening a business are long and cumbersome, particularly for foreigners trying to navigate the system without the assistance of a well-connected national.

The private sector is governed by a mix of laws from Sudan, the pre-independence semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, and since 2011, the Government of South Sudan. The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) passed laws to improve the transparency of the regulatory system, including the 2012 Companies Act and the 2012 Banking Act, however enforcement regulations are still lacking and there is little transparency. The government does not consult with the public about proposed regulations and information about regulations is not widely published.  Several key pieces of legislation governing customs, imports and exports, leasing and mortgaging, procurement, and labor have not been approved by the government and are needed to improve the business environment in South Sudan.

The oil sector is the major industry that attracts FDI, but transparency in the oil sector is absent, despite it being mandated by South Sudanese law.  The Ministry of Petroleum does not share data at an institutional level with the Bank of South Sudan, and does not release it to the public. The Ministry of Petroleum does not publish oil production data on their website. The contracts process for oil companies that are planning to bid and invest in South Sudan is controlled by the Ministry of Petroleum. This information is not publicly available on the Ministry’s website.

There are no known informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations that would affect U.S. investors.  National and state bodies are the main source of regulation, but county and sub-county level officials also impose regulations. In 2018 and 2019, international non-governmental organizations regularly reported that local officials demanded taxes and fees that differed with those set out in national policy.  An opaque Presidential Decree issued in late 2018, for example, resulted in weeks of customs clearance disruptions at the country’s main land border in Nimule. NGOs report regular discrepancies between tax and labor rules issued by the national government and those enforced by local authorities. At some state levels, private contractors moving goods earmarked for humanitarian relief have been prevented entry at state borders.

There are no publicly listed companies.  Government accounting is non-transparent.  In 2018 the legislative assembly held public budget hearings, but in general, most bills and regulations are passed without public comment, and are poorly disseminated.  There is no centralized online location where key regulatory actions are published. There is no ombudsman. Parliament has not been able to provide effective oversight of government ministers. There were no significant corruption cases prosecuted in 2018.

No enforcement reforms have been announced or implemented.  The establishment of the National Revenue Authority may provide a stronger foundation for development and implementation of accounting and regulatory standards.  South Sudan is working to develop sources of non-oil revenue, including more centralized and effective enforcement of personal income tax. If transparently collected and managed, these funds could assist in development of the country’s infrastructure.

South Sudan’s parliament is responsible for developing laws, but bodies such as the National Revenue Authority have also been influential in developing tax procedures, for example.  There is no indication that regulations are informed by quantitative analysis and public comments received by regulators are not made public.

Laws and regulations are randomly enforced and are not well-publicized, creating uncertainty among domestic and foreign investors.  The Ministry of Labor, for example, rarely if ever conducts inspections, but NGOs and foreign investors have reported that employees have colluded with labor inspectors to extort fines from business managers.

South Sudan’s public finances are extremely opaque.  The government released some debt obligation information during budget hearings in 2018 regarding certain infrastructure loans, but to date has not disclosed the amount of forward-sold oil (the country’s main source of revenue).  The Ministry of Petroleum particularly lacks transparency, as does the Ministry of Finance. Allegations of corruption plague both ministries. The state-owned oil company Nilepet has consistently refused public auditing.

International Regulatory Considerations

South Sudan is a member of the African Union and the East African Community (since April 2016) and is making progress in adapting its national regulatory system to regional standards.

With the establishment of the National Revenue Authority, South Sudan has begun to implement EAC customs regulations and procedures.  South Sudan is not a member of the WTO.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

South’s Sudan’s legal system is a combination of statutory and customary laws.  There are no dedicated commercial courts and no effective arbitration act for handling business disputes. The only official means of settling disputes between private parties in South Sudan is civil court, but enforcement of court decisions is weak or nonexistent.  The lack of official channels for businesses to resolve land or other contractual disagreements has led businesses to seek informal mediation, including through private lawyers, tribal elders, law enforcement officials, and business organizations.

The executive regularly interferes in judiciary matters.  Parties to business disputes have been arrested by state security forces and held at length without charges.  High-level government and military officials are often immune from prosecution in practice, and frequently interfere with court decisions. Parties in contract disputes are sometimes arrested by authorities and imprisoned until the party agrees to pay a sum of money, often without going to court and sometimes without formal charges.

The lack of a unified, formal system encourages ‘forum shopping’ by businesses that are motivated to find the venue in which they can achieve an outcome most favorable to their interests. Many disputes are resolved informally.  U.S. companies seeking to invest in South Sudan face a complex commercial environment with extraordinarily weak enforcement of the law. While major U.S. and multinational companies may have enough leverage to extricate themselves from business disputes, medium-sized enterprises that are more natural counterparts to South Sudan’s fledgling business community will find themselves held to local rules.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Despite some improvements to the taxation system, the opacity and lack of capacity in the country’s legal system poses high risk to foreign investors.  South Sudan’s National Revenue Authority has centralized and standardized collection of Personal Income Tax and customs duties.  A One-Stop Shop Investment Centre (OSSIC) was established in 2012 but there is no website or advertised physical office. In practice, someone who wishes to register a business must rely on a local lawyer to register the business with the registrar at the Ministry of Justice and with other relevant authorities such as tax authorities.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

South Sudan does not review transactions for competition-related concerns.  There were no significant developments in 2018.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Investment Promotion Act of 2009 prohibits nationalization of private enterprises unless the expropriation is in the national interest for a public purpose.  However, the current law does not define the terms “national interest” or “public purpose.” According to the law expropriation must be in accordance with due process and provide for fair and adequate compensation, which is ultimately determined by the local domestic courts.

Government officials have pressured development partners to hand over assets at the end of programs. While some donor agreements call for the government to receive goods at the close-out of a project, assets have been seized by local government officials even in instances where they were not included in a formal agreement.

Although officially denied, credible reports from humanitarian aid agencies indicate that money is routinely extorted at checkpoints manned by both government and opposition forces to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country.

In practice, the government has not offered compensation for expropriated property.  For example, in October 2018 the Government expropriated the assets of Kerbino Wol Agok, a high profile prisoner of the National Security Service, with no apparent judicial process.  His companies and their bank accounts were seized and all employees fired.

Due to the insufficiencies in the legal system, investors should not expect to receive due process.  Investors face a complex commercial environment with relatively weak enforcement of the law.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

South Sudan signed and ratified the ISCID Convention on April 18, 2012 and it entered into force on May 18, 2012.  Currently South Sudan is not a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention).

There is no specific domestic legislation that enforces awards under the ICSID convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

South Sudan does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

In recent years South Sudan has reportedly failed to pay for some services provided to it by private companies. For example, in November 2017 South Sudan stopped issuing and renewing passports and other travel documents after its production system was shut down for two weeks by the country’s German supplier, due to the government’s failure to pay an annual software license fee of around USD 500,000.  In addition, numerous private companies, including at least one U.S. company, claim the government has reneged on or delayed payment for work under contract.

In March 2018, the government suddenly suspended Lebanese-owned cell phone service provider Vivacell, which had previously been South Sudan’s largest telecommunications company with a 51 percent market share and equipment installed throughout the country, due to an alleged failure to pay taxes.

There is a history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.  Parties in contract disputes are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until the party agrees to pay a sum of money, often without going to court and sometimes without formal charges.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

There are no official arbitration bodies in South Sudan.  South Sudan lacks any dedicated legal framework for rendering enforceable court judgments from foreign courts.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The 2011 Insolvency Act provides for both personal and corporate bankruptcies.  Given the lack of commercial courts, there is little information available about the rights of creditors in practice.  South Sudan is tied for last place in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report ranking for “resolving insolvency.”

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Investment Promotion Act provides for various tax incentives, including capital allowances ranging from 20 to 100 percent of eligible expenditures, deductible annual allowances ranging from 20 to 40 percent, and depreciation allowances ranging from 8 to 10 percent.  A foreign tax credit is granted to any resident company paying foreign taxes on income from business activities outside South Sudan. In practice, the exact incentive structure is somewhat unclear.

Applications for fiscal incentives are made to the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning through the One Stop Shop Investment Centre (OSSIC).  Tax exemptions and concessions on machinery, equipment, capital and net profits are approved for stated periods by the Ministry of Finance, at its discretion. Fiscal incentives also include capital allowances, deductible annual allowances and annual depreciation allowances.

The government has been known to guarantee foreign direct investment projects with oil deliveries.  However, due to a lack of transparency at the Ministry of Petroleum, it is unclear to what extent the country’s oil production has been leveraged and thus it is impossible to ascertain the likelihood of the country being able to honor such commitments.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

South Sudan has not established any free trade zones. On June 22, 2013 the government of South Sudan announced the construction of Juba Specialized Economic Zone (SEZ) near the capital.  It was intended to be an industrial area for business and investment activities but development of the area has not progressed.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

South Sudan’s 2017 Labor Act dictates that 80 percent of staff at all levels of management must be South Sudanese nationals.  Additionally, authorities in some areas of the country have demanded that NGOs employ people local to a specific area, or from a specific ethnic group, although there is no basis for this practice in South Sudanese law.  The law makes no specific mention of senior management and boards of directors. The government requires work permit fees for foreign nationals. These are typically several thousand dollars per employee, but the exact amounts change regularly.  Foreigners are also subject to a variety of registration requirements, which also change regularly and unpredictably.

In consideration of entitlement to an investment certificate, the Investment Act encourages, but does not require, technology transfer, increase in foreign exchange through exports or import substitution, production and use of local raw materials and supplies, and contributions to the local community.  For entitlement to an investment certificate, the Investment Authority is required by law to assess if the investment will create employment for South Sudanese, acquire new skills of technology for South Sudanese, and contribute to tax revenues. The use of domestic content in goods or technology is encouraged, but not required.

The Investment Authority may revoke an investment certificate due to breach of performance requirements, with 30 days notice.  There are no provisions regarding maintenance, increase, or decrease of performance requirements.  The Investment Act applies these requirements equally to domestic and foreign investors.

There are no known requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to encryption.  No measures are known to exist to prevent companies from transferring customer or other business data outside the country.  There are no known rules on maintaining data storage within the country.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

There was no progress in 2018 towards comprehensive land reform. Laws on mortgages, valuation, and the registration of titles have not been drafted.  While the 2009 Land Act and the 2009 Investment Promotion Act both state that non-citizens can access land for investment purposes, by leasing the land but not owning it, clear regulations governing how a business acquires land were not available in 2018.

Currently, some businesses lease land from the government, while others lease land directly from local communities and/or individuals. Under the Land Act, investment in land acquired from local communities must contribute economically and socially to the development of the local community.  Businesses will often sign a memorandum of understanding with the local communities in which they agree to employ locals or invest in social services in exchange for use of the land. Land negotiations with communities often require several months or longer to complete. South Sudan ranked 179 out of 185 countries for ease of registering property in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report.

Ownership of land is often unclear, with communities and government both claiming the same property. In some cases, multiple individuals hold registration certificates demonstrating sole ownership of the same piece of land.

As of April 2019, over 4 million South Sudanese were still displaced from their homes due to conflict.  During the five-year civil war, many of their houses were illegally occupied and likely remain so. Property owners or public authorities may file for an order to evict unauthorized occupants under the Land Act.  While the rightful owners may hold clear land titles, it is unclear if the legal system is equipped to handle their claims and it is likely that land ownership will be regularly disputed throughout large parts of the country in the foreseeable future.

Intellectual Property Rights

The legal structure for intellectual property rights (IPR) is weak and enforcement is lax.  Recorded instances of intellectual property theft are rare. While the Investment Act of 2009 includes an article on the protection of IPR, implementing legislation on trademarks, copyrights, and patents has not yet been passed.  To date, the only intellectual property law which has been put forward to the legislature is the Trade Marks Bill of 2013. No new IP-related laws or regulations were enacted in 2018.

South Sudan does not track or seize counterfeit goods.  There has been no known prosecution of IPR violations and there are no estimates available for traffic of counterfeit goods. There was one report of an unauthorized public screening of a U.S. film in 2018.

South Sudan is not included 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 http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The Investment Act mentions portfolio investment, but South Sudan does not have a functioning market for financial assets.  South Sudan does not have a stock market or related regulatory system. There are no known policies for promotion of investment into product and factor markets.

South Sudan’s formal financial system offers few financial products. It is difficult for foreign investors to get credit on the local market due to the shortage of hard currency, the lack of accurate means of obtaining reliable figures or audited accounts, the absence of a credit reference bureau, and South Sudan’s failure to document land ownership properly.  According to the World Bank, 50 percent of all South Sudanese firms cite access to finance as a constraint.

Banks are often unwilling to lend due to the lack of adequate laws to protect lenders and difficulties related to personal identification.  After the Bank of South Sudan confiscated commercial banks’ reserves on deposit at the central bank in 2015, diverting them to the use of the government, companies and individuals had difficulty accessing their funds.  This made depositors reluctant to trust their funds to the banking system.

The Bank of South Sudan launched treasury bills on August 18, 2016 for purchase by members of the public, companies and commercial banks.  This lasted until April 2017, when people stopped investing in the bills due to high inflation and a lack of a secondary market for them. The bank had previously issued treasury bills in 2012 without success.

Money and Banking System

Activity in the banking system grew after independence for a period until it deteriorated in 2014 due to civil conflict and the reduction of oil exports. The economy of South Sudan is cash-based, with limited use of demand deposits. The IMF has categorized South Sudan’s financial sector as small and undeveloped.  South Sudan has recently introduced mobile money. Informal unauthorized transfer services already exist, but mobile money services should allow for greater access to domestic banking services.

There is limited information to assess the health of this sector and figures are unreliable.  The Bank of South Sudan, the country’s central bank, has limited assets. There are a total of nine foreign-owned banks.  There are no known additional regulations for foreign banks. There are no known restrictions on a foreigner’s ability to establish a bank account.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Foreign investors cannot remit funds through the parallel market. They are required by law to remit through banks or foreign exchange bureaus at an exchange rate that is far below the market rate.

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act guarantees unconditional transferability in and out of South Sudan “in freely convertible currency of capital for investment; payments in respect of loan servicing where foreign loans have been obtained; and the remittance of proceeds, net of all taxes and other statutory obligations, in the event of sale or liquidation of the enterprise.” In reality, the ability to exchange local currency for foreign currency is severely restricted.

South Sudan maintained a fixed exchange rate for the South Sudanese Pound until December 2015 when it moved to a managed floating exchange rate regime.  Since then, the local currency has depreciated significantly due to deficit spending by the government, printing of money, and a lack of hard currency. The current official exchange rate can be found from the Bank of South Sudan or from commercial banks in Juba.  There is a large spread between this rate and the unofficial parallel market rate.

Remittance Policies

There have been no recent changes to investment remittance policies, and no known waiting periods on remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The Petroleum Revenue Management Act of 2013 created a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) to set aside surplus profits from oil sales.  The law established the Oil Revenue Stabilization Account to act as a buffer against volatility in oil prices and the Future Generations Fund to set aside some funds for future generations.  The SWF is supposed to distribute 10 percent of oil profits into the Oil Revenue Stabilization Account and 15 percent to the Future Generations Fund. To date, however, neither has received any financing.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the civil war with Sudan set a 2 percent share of oil revenue that is supposed to be given to the oil producing states along with 3 percent revenue allocation to the local communities.  However, in August 2017, the government announced that it would stop giving the 3 percent and 2 percent share to states. The September 2018 peace agreement calls for the accounts to be funded. The SWF does not follow any good practices and being unfunded, does not invest domestically (although it is intended to).

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The national oil company – Nile Petroleum Corporation, or Nilepet – remains the primary fully State-owned enterprise (SOE) in South Sudan.  The government owns stakes in construction and trade companies and in several banks. Limited data is available on number, total income, and employment figures of SOEs.  There is no published list of SOEs.

Nilepet is the technical and operational branch of the Ministry of Petroleum. Nilepet took over Sudan’s national oil company’s shares in six exploration and petroleum sharing agreements in South Sudan at the time of the country’s independence in 2011.  Nilepet also distributes petroleum products in South Sudan. The government, through Nilepet, holds minority stakes in other oil companies operating in South Sudan

The Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, which governs how Nilepet’s profits are invested, was enacted into law in 2013; however, the company has yet to release any information on its activities, even though the law states that comprehensive, audited reports on the company’s finances must be made publicly available.

The government is not transparent about how it exercises ownership or control of Nilepet.  Its director reports to the Minister of Petroleum and Mining. Nilepet’s revenues and expenditures are not disclosed in the central government budget.  No audited accounts of Nilepet are publicly available. After the January 2012 oil production shutdown, oil production recovered to more than 235,000 barrels per day at end of 2013, only to fall to about 160,000 barrels per day in early 2014 as a result of the conflict that started in December 2013. The ongoing conflict has reduced daily oil production currently to about 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) as of April 2019, and the collapse of international oil prices plus the drop in oil production has cut state revenues.

In March 2018, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to add Nilepet and several related companies to the Entity List, along with the Ministry of Petroleum and the Ministry of Mining, due to their role in worsening the conflict in South Sudan.

The Entity List identifies entities, including corporations, private or government organizations, and natural persons, and other persons reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.

The U.S. Government assesses the 15 entities BIS has added to the Entity List as contributing to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan because they are a source of substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people. Adding these entities to the Entity List is intended to ensure that items subject to the EAR are not used to generate revenue to finance the continuing violence in South Sudan.

The following 15 entities are the first South Sudanese entities added to the Entity List: Ascom Sudd Operating Company; Dar Petroleum Operating Company; DietsmannNile; Greater Pioneer Operating Co. Ltd; Juba Petrotech Technical Services Ltd; Nile Delta Petroleum Company; Nile Drilling and Services Company; Nile Petroleum Corporation; Nyakek and Sons; Oranto Petroleum; Safinat Group; SIPET Engineering and Consultancy Services; South Sudan Ministry of Mining; South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum; and Sudd Petroleum Operating Co.

These 15 entities are subject to a license requirement for all exports and reexports destined for any of the entities and transfers (in-country) to them of all items subject to the EAR with a licensing review policy of a presumption of denial. This license requirement also applies to any transaction involving any of these entities in which such entities act as a purchaser, intermediate consignee, ultimate consignee or end-user.  Additionally, no license exceptions are available to these entities.

If any person participates in a transaction described above involving any of these 15 entities without first obtaining the required license from BIS, that person would be in violation of the EAR and could be subject to civil or criminal enforcement proceedings. Civil enforcement could result in the imposition of monetary penalties or the denial of the person’s export privileges. Additionally, a person’s supplying or procuring items subject to the EAR or engaging in other activity involving an entity on the Entity List could result in a determination to add that person to the Entity List consistent with the procedures set forth in the EAR.

The regulation can be viewed on the Federal Register at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-03-22/pdf/2018-05789.pdf .

The country does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.

Privatization Program

South Sudan does not have a privatization program. So far, the government has no plans for privatization, and there are few government-owned entities that provide services to individuals.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The idea of responsible business conduct is new in South Sudan, and there is little awareness of standards in this area.  The few large international firms operating in South Sudan sometimes offer some basic benefits to local communities, but on an irregular basis. The 2009 Land Act requires investment activities carried out on land acquired from local communities to “reflect an important interest for the community or people living in the locality,” and to contribute economically and socially. There are complaints in the media about the number of foreign-owned companies and the lack of hiring of South Sudanese employees.  International observers have argued that many of the oil producing companies do not practice responsible behavior in regard to environmental damage in the oil fields.

The government has taken no steps towards RBC.  The recently signed peace agreement and some national laws (such as the Petroleum Act) contain RBC provisions but they are unenforced.  The environmental and human rights impact of oil pollution has been severe but the government has not responded to widespread damage to the environment and displacement of people.  The government has demonstrated little capacity or will to enforce laws on human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impact.  The government has not put in place corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders.

NGOs have promoted RBC, particularly in the environmental domain, but activists and reporters in this field have reported that they are subject to government harassment.

The government does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas, and there are no functioning domestic measures related to such due diligence.  South Sudan is a source of minerals originating from conflict-affected areas and there is little oversight to the extractive industries such as gold.

The government does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and while the law requires the disclosure of payments made to the government in regard to oil sales, in reality disclosure is weak or nonexistent.

9. Corruption

South Sudan has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, but there is a near total lack of enforcement and considerable gaps exist in legislation.  As a result, corruption is pervasive.

Companies are reportedly asked to pay extralegal taxes and fees.  Security officials have been reported to impose business conditions including payment of fees, salaries, and logistical support to their operations.  In practice, politically connected people are immune to prosecution. There are no laws that prevent conflict of interest in government procurement.

The government does not encourage or require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.  There is no indication that private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

The South Sudan Anti-Corruption Committee (SSACC) was established in accordance with the 2005 Constitution and the 2009 SSACC Act. The five commission members and chairperson are appointed by the President with approval by a simple majority in the parliament. The commission is tasked with protecting public property, investigating corruption, and submitting evidence to the Ministry of Justice for necessary action.  In addition, the commission is tasked with combatting administrative malpractice in public institutions, such as nepotism, favoritism, tribalism, sectionalism, gender discrimination, bribery, embezzlement, and sexual harassment.

In reality, the SSACC lacks the resources or political capital to investigate corruption.  It has no capacity to address state corruption as it can only relay its findings to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.  There were no significant anti-corruption cases investigated or prosecuted in 2018.

South Sudan acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on January 23, 2015 but has not yet ratified it.  The country is not a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and is not reported to be a participant in regional anti-corruption initiatives.

The country provides no protection to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.  NGOs of all types are routinely subject to government harassment.

All major sectors including the extractive sector, hotels, airlines, banking, and security sectors are subject to interference from the security sector including recruitment interference, and payment of fees and salaries.

Corruption appears to be pervasive at all levels of government and society. The regulatory system is poor or non-existent, and dispute settlement is weak and subject to influence.

Resources to Report Corruption

National Audit Chamber
P.O. Box 210
Juba, South Sudan
Tel: +211 (0) 955 481 021
info@auditchamber-ss.org

Honorable Ngor Kulong Ngor
Chairperson
South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission
P.O Box 312
Juba, South Sudan
anticorruptioncommission@yahoo.co.uk

Honorable Awad Masha Zigizo
Commissioner
South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission
P.O Box 312
Juba, South Sudan
anticorruptioncommission@yahoo.co.uk

Contact at “watchdog” organizations:

UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan
Mr. David Biggs (Senior Committee Secretary)
Tel: (212) 963-5598
sc-2206-committee@un.org

Transparency International
Alt-Moabit 96
10559 Berlin
Germany
Telephone: +49 30 3438 200
Fax: +49 30 3470 3912
ti@transparency.org

The Sentry
c/o The Enough Project
1420 K Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
info@thesentry.org

10. Political and Security Environment

There is a long history of politically motivated violence in South Sudan.  The warring parties concluded a peace agreement in September 2018 to stop the civil war that has wrought the country since 2013.  Limited fighting continues in some parts of the country as of April 2019, but in general, the ceasefire has held. The effects of the war on the economy and investment will be evident for some time.

Previous violence during conflict with Sudan resulted in damage to installations in one of the major oil producing areas in the country, shutting down production in that region.  Repairs to these facilities began in 2018, allowing for an increase in oil production.

The environment remains insecure but hopes of peace have been rekindled with signing of a new peace agreement in September 2018.  The parties, however, remain behind in implementation as of April 2019.

There were 1.9 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South Sudan, and an additional 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries as of April 2019.  The government has not yet developed the conditions that would allow the IDPs and refugees to safely return home. Political opposition leaders faced illegal detention and travel restrictions in 2018.  The government has temporarily shut down several newspapers and detained journalists it accused of printing articles opposing policies or actions undertaken by the government.

The conflict severely disrupted trade, markets, and agricultural activities, claimed thousands of lives and spurred one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crises. The conflict was marked by grave human rights abuses, especially pervasive gender-based violence.  Out of a population of approximately 12 million, some 6.5 million people are in need of food assistance in South Sudan. During 2018, the bulk of U.S. and the international community’s support efforts were directed at the immediate needs of the ongoing humanitarian crisis brought on by the civil conflict.  Other development assistance has been significantly reduced.

NGOs complain of harassment, and aid convoys have come under attack in 2018.  South Sudan was named the most dangerous country in the world for aid workers in 2018.  Armed cattle raids claimed hundreds of lives in 2018, and several ambushes and kidnappings have taken place on the country’s main highway, the Juba-Nimule road.  The Department of State currently warns against travel to South Sudan due to the critically high risk of crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

South Sudan has a shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers across most areas in the formal sector.  According to the 2008 census, 84 percent of those employed are in non-wage work. Unskilled labor in the service and construction sectors is often performed by immigrants from neighboring countries.  This is in large part due to a lack of basic skills training. South Sudan has one of the worst adult literacy rates in the world: about 27 percent.

The five-year civil war has resulted in large swaths of people displaced from their homes (over 4 million are displaced or refugees as of April 2019) and has devastated the economy.

Government enforcement of existing labor laws has been absent. Most small South Sudanese businesses operate in the informal economy, where labor laws and regulations are widely ignored.

The Labor Act of 2017 requires that 80 percent of staff hired by foreign employers at all levels of management be nationals of South Sudan.  Government security offices have been reported to interfere with hiring in some cases. The Ministry of Labor thoroughly reviews all work permit applications in an attempt to determine whether a position could be filled by a South Sudanese national.  Some foreign-owned companies reported long delays in receiving work permits for expatriate staff, and many expatriates are issued work permits for just one to three months, rather than the standard one year. State and local authorities have also been reported to charge additional fees and attempt to restrict employment to people from a certain place or of a certain ethnic group.

The Labor Act establishes an “employment exchange” scheme for unemployed people that reserves vending, hawking, driving, office support staffing and other manual labor for nationals only.  No social safety net programs exist in practice. The Labor Act allows for Termination for Redundancy “due to changes in the operational requirements of the employer” with certain conditions, and requires severance pay.  The law differentiates between this and several other forms of termination.

There are no special labor provisions in order to attract or retain investment.  No formal functioning collective bargaining systems exist. Disputes are handled by the Ministry of Labor, by courts, and informally/extrajudicially.  Foreign employers have reported being at a significant disadvantage in such disputes.

In July 2018, a mob of hundreds described as local youths attacked NGO facilities causing millions of dollars in damages in Maban.  The government was slow to respond or investigate, and ultimately released the attack’s ringleaders shortly after arresting them. In 2018, some international organizations reported labor strikes from day wage-earners.  Some international organizations reported strikes or blockages where locals protested against the employment of South Sudanese from different ethnic groups perceived to be receiving favored treatment.

Child labor is rampant and the government does not enforce child labor laws through inspections or fines.

The most recent change to labor law was the Labor Act signed by the South Sudanese President in December 2017.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

There is a potential for successful OPIC operations in South Sudan if the security environment continues to improve.  The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has been open to business in South Sudan since 2012. South Sudan ratified its Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) with OPIC in 2013.  South Sudan is a member country of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2016 $2,904 www.worldbank.org/en/country   
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx    

 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Economic/Commercial Officer
U.S. Embassy, Kololo Road, Juba, South Sudan
(U.S.) +1 (202) 216-6279, ext 215
jubacommercial@state.gov

Tanzania

Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania enjoys a relatively stable political environment, reasonable macroeconomic policies, resiliency from external shocks, and debt relief.  However, recently adopted Government of Tanzania (GoT) policies have raised questions about long-term prospects for foreign direct investment (FDI), and fostered a more challenging business environment.  Tanzania slipped 12 spots in two years on the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings. Despite Tanzania’s GDP growth, 28.2 percent of the population lives below the GoT-determined poverty line and youth unemployment remains a problem.  The IMF continues to warn of a slowdown in economic growth, and possible economic risks including private sector concerns about heavy-handed and arbitrary enforcement of rules; stagnated credit growth; poor budget credibility and implementation; and excessive domestic arrears. 

In 2016, the GoT began a campaign to raise revenue, encourage the hiring of Tanzanian citizens over foreigners, and protect/grow local industry.  These measures included new taxes in certain industries as well as aggressive collection by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) that some labeled as arbitrary and harassing.  On the employment front, the GoT implemented labor regulations that make it more difficult to hire foreign employees, creating unclear bureaucratic standards. Finally, on the local industry front, the GoT continued to use increased tariffs and import and export bans as a stated, but ineffective way to protect/grow local industry.

The private sector continues to struggle with recent legislation that is vague and often punitive to the private sector.  These laws increased the risk/cost of investing in broadly defined natural resources, primarily by removing rights to international arbitration and giving Parliament the unilateral right to rewrite undefined “unconscionable” contract terms.  In addition, new mining local content laws strongly encourage the hiring of, contracting with, and partnering with Tanzanian companies or individuals. In 2019, in response to calls from local and international investors, as well as the World Bank and the IMF, the GoT renewed its efforts to engage in public private dialogue and address challenges in the business environment.  President Magufuli named 2019 “the year of investment” and as such has made a number of high-profile remarks highlighting the importance of the private sector. 

Profitable sectors for foreign investment in Tanzania have traditionally included agriculture, mining and services, driven by banking, construction, tourism, and trade.  However, aggressive revenue raising measures and unfriendly investor legislation have made investment less attractive in recent years. Corruption, especially in government procurement, privatization, taxation, and customs clearance remains a concern for foreign investors, though the government has prioritized efforts to combat the practice.  GoT plans for infrastructure development are expected to offer investment opportunities in rail, real estate development, and construction. 

Compared to its many neighboring countries, Tanzania remains a politically stable and peaceful country, as well as a regional leader, including in the East African Community (EAC).  Since November 2015, however, the government is placing increasing restrictions on political activity, including severely limiting the ability of opposition political parties and civil society organizations to debate issues publicly, or peacefully assemble.  October 2015 general elections were conducted in a largely open and transparent atmosphere; however, simultaneous elections in Zanzibar were controversially annulled after an opposition candidate declared victory. A re-run election was boycotted by the opposition.  By-elections in 2017 and 2018 were marred by allegations of irregularities and instances of political violence. 

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 99 out of 180  http://www.transparency.org/country/TZA  
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 144 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 92 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $1.38   http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $910  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The United Republic of Tanzania, according to Government officials, welcomes foreign direct investment (FDI) as it pursues its industrialization and development agenda.  However, in practice, government policies and actions do not effectively keep and attract investment. The 2018 World Investment Report indicates that FDI flows to Tanzania shrank by 14 percent in 2017 to USD 1.18 billion, a 24 percent decline from 2015.  Some concerns noted by stakeholders included difficulty in hiring foreign workers, reduced profits caused by unfriendly and opaque tax policies, increased local content requirements, regulatory/policy instability, lack of trust between the GoT and the private sector, and mandatory initial public offerings (IPOs) in mining and communication industries.

The United Republic of Tanzania does have framework agreements on investment, and offers various incentives and the services of investment promotion agencies.  Investment is mainly a non-Union matter, thus there are different laws, policies, and practices for the mainland and Zanzibar. However, international agreements on investment are covered as Union matters and therefore apply to both regions. 

The Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) is intended to be a one-stop center for investors, providing services to investors such as permits, licenses, visas, and land.  The Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) provides the same function in Zanzibar. In January 2019, the President moved the TIC from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment (MITI) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and appointed a Minister of State for Investment in the Prime Minister’s Office.  The move, part of Tanzania’s “2019: The Year of Investment” campaign, aims to improve the business climate by enabling better coordination and reduced bureaucracy. (See Chapter 4 for more information on TIC).

The Government of Tanzania has an ongoing dialogue with the private sector via the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC), created in 2001.  TNBC meetings are chaired by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania and co-chaired by the head of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).  Unfortunately, the TNBC has only met twice in the past four years. There is also a Zanzibar Business Council (ZBC) launched in 2005, and Regional Business Councils (RBCs) and District Business Councils (DBCs).  In April 2019, the new Minister of State for Investment announced she was launching a new series of forums with foreign investors, including U.S. investors. 

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors generally receive treatment equivalent to domestic investors but limits still persist in a number of sectors.  Tanzania conforms to best practice in several cases. There are no geographical restrictions on location for private establishments with foreign participation or ownership, no limitations on number of foreign entities that can operate in a given sector, and no sectors in which foreign investment approval is required for greenfield FDI and not for domestic companies. 

However, Tanzania discourages foreign investment by imposing limitations on foreign equity ownership or activity in several sectors, including aerospace, agribusiness (fishing), construction, and heavy equipment, travel and tourism, energy and environmental industries, information and communication, and publishing, media, and entertainment.  For example,

  • Foreign companies may not provide tourism services like mountain guides, tour guides, car rental, or travel agency services, per the Tourism Act, 2008.
  • Per the Merchant Shipping Act of 2003, only citizen-owned ships are authorized to engage in local trade (waiver by ministerial discretion), and the Shipping Agency Act states that only Tanzanians may be licensed as shipping agents.  Port services licenses are solely for citizen-owned Tanzania companies.
  • The Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 implies onerous conditions for foreigners to fish and export fishery products, and fishing licenses cost three times more for foreigners than locals, and foreigners can only deal with certain fish and fish products.
  • Foreign construction contractors can only obtain temporary licenses, per the Contractors Registration Act of 1997, and contractors must commit in writing to leave Tanzania upon completion of the set project.  The Contractors Registration (Amendment) By- Laws, 2004 limit foreign contractors to specified, more complex classes of work.
  • Foreign capital participation in the telecommunications sector is limited to a maximum of 75 percent. 
  • All insurers require one-third controlling interest by Tanzania citizens, per the Insurance Act.
  • The Electronic and Postal Communications (Licensing) Regulations 2011 limits foreign ownership of Tanzanian TV stations to 49 percent, and prohibits foreign capital participation in national newspapers. 
  • Mining projects must be at least partially owned by the GoT and “indigenous” companies and hire, or at least favor, local suppliers, service providers, and employees.  (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on FDI for details.). Gemstone mining is limited to Tanzanian citizens with a possible waiver by ministerial discretion. In February 2019, responding to low growth and investment in the sector, the government revised the 2018 Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018 by reducing the local shareholder requirement from 51 percent to 20 percent.  

Currently, foreigners can invest in stock traded on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE), but only East African residents can invest in government bonds.  East Africans, excluding Tanzanian residents, however, are not allowed to sell government bonds bought in the primary market for at least one year following purchase.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

There have not been any third-party investment policy reviews (IPRs) on Tanzania in the past three years, the most recent OECD report is for 2013.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a Trade Policy Review in 2019 on all the East African Community states, including Tanzania. 

WTO – Trade Policy Review: East African Community (2019)
https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp484_e.htm

OECD – Tanzania Investment Policy Review (2013)
http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/tanzania-investment-policy-review.htm  

WTO – Secretariat Report of Tanzania
https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/s384-04_e.pdf

UNCTAD – Trade and Gender Implications (2018)
https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditc2017d2_en.pdf

Business Facilitation

The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 Indicators rank Tanzania 144 out of 190 overall for ease of doing business, and 163rd for ease of starting a business.  There are 10 procedures to open a business, higher than the sub-Saharan average of 7.4. The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) issues certificates of compliance for foreign companies, certificates of incorporation for private and public companies, and business name registration for sole proprietor and corporate bodies.  After registering with BRELA, the company must: obtain the taxpayer identification number (TIN) certificate, apply for a business license, apply for the VAT certificate, register for workmen’s compensation insurance, register with the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), receive inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), and obtain a Social Security registration number. 

The TIC provides simultaneous registration with BRELA, TRA, and social security (http://tiw.tic.co.tz/  ) for enterprises whose minimum capital investment is not less than USD 500,000 if foreign owned or USD 100,000 if locally owned. 

In May 2018, the government adopted the Blueprint for Regulatory Reforms to improve the business environment and attract more investors.  The reforms, which were developed as a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the private sector, seek to improve the country’s ease of doing business through regulatory reforms and to increase efficiency in dealing with the government and its regulatory authorities.  The Blueprint is largely pending implementation. 

Outward Investment

Tanzania does not promote or incentivize outward investment, and in fact, generally discourages capital flight.  There are restrictions on Tanzanian residents’ participation in foreign capital markets and ability to purchase foreign securities.  Under the Foreign Exchange (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (FEAR), however, there are circumstances where Tanzanian residents may trade securities within the East African Community (EAC).  In addition, FEAR provides some opportunities for residents to engage in foreign direct investment and acquire real assets outside of the EAC.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Tanzania has bilateral investment treaties with 18 countries, and seven investment agreements with regional economic blocs.  On April 1 2019, Tanzania terminated its BIT agreement with Netherlands. The country is also a signatory to global investment instruments such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention, the New York Convention, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The U.S. and Tanzania do not have bilateral investment or taxation agreements.  Tanzania is a member of the EAC, which signed a 2008 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and a 2012 Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP) with the United States.  Under the U.S.-EAC TIP, the U.S. and EAC are seeking to expand trade, investment and dialogue with the private sector.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Tanzania has formal processes for drafting and implementing rules and regulations.  Generally, after an Act is passed by Parliament, the creation of regulations is delegated to a designated ministry.  In theory, stakeholders are legally entitled to comment on regulations before they are implemented. However, ministries and regulatory agencies do publish a list of anticipated regulatory changes or proposals intended to be adopted/implemented.  There is not a period of time set by law for the text of the proposed regulations to be publicly available. Thus, stakeholders often report that they are either not consulted or given too little time to provide useful comment. Ministries or regulatory agencies do not have the legal obligation to publish the text of proposed regulations before their enactment.  Moreover, the government has increasingly used presidential decree powers to bypass regulatory and legal structures.

In 2016, the President signed the Access to Information Act into law.  In theory, the Act gives citizens more rights to information; however, some claim that the Act gives too much discretion to the GoT to withhold disclosure.  Although information, including rules and regulations, is available on the GoT’s “Government Portal” (https://www.tanzania.go.tz/documents  ), the website is generally not current and incomplete.  Alternatively, rules and regulations can be obtained on the relevant ministry’s website, but many offer insufficient information.

Nominally independent regulators are mandated with impartially following the regulations.  The process, however, has sometimes been criticized as being subject to political influence, depriving the regulator of the independence it is granted under the law. 

Tanzania does not meet the minimum standards for transparency of public finances and debt obligations. 

International Regulatory Considerations

Tanzania is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its National Enquiry Point (NEP) is the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).  As the WTO NEP, TBS handles information on adopted or proposed technical regulations, as well as on standards and conformity assessment procedures.  Tanzania is also part of both the EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and subject to their respective regulations. However, according to the 2016 East African Market Scorecard (most recent), Tanzania is not compliant with several EAC regulations.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Tanzania’s legal system is based on the English Common Law system. The first source of law is the 1977 Constitution, followed by statutes or acts of Parliament; and case law, which are reported or unreported cases from the High Courts and Courts of Appeal and are used as precedents to guide lower courts.  The Court of Appeal, which handles appeals from mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, is the highest ranking court, followed by the High Court, which handles civil, criminal and commercial cases. There are four specialized divisions within the High Courts: Labor, Land, Commercial, and Corruption and Economic Crimes.  The Labor, Land, and Corruption and Economic Crimes divisions have exclusive jurisdiction over their respective matters, while the Commercial division does not claim exclusive jurisdiction. The High Court and the District and Resident Magistrate Courts also have original jurisdiction in commercial cases subject to specified financial limitations. 

Apart from the formal court system, there are quasi-judicial bodies, including the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal and the Fair Competition Tribunal, as well as alternate dispute resolution procedures in the form of arbitration proceedings.  Judgments originating from countries whose courts are recognized under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA) are enforceable in Tanzania. To enforce such judgments, the judgment holder must make an application to the High Court of Tanzania to have the judgment registered. Countries currently listed in the REFJA include Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Zambia, Seychelles, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka.  

The Tanzanian constitution guarantees judicial independence.  Judges are appropriately trained, appointed by the president in consultation with an independent Judicial Service Commission, have secure tenure until retirement at age 60, and are promoted and dismissed in a fair and unbiased manner.  This gives the higher-level courts considerable independence. In 2018, the head of Tanzania’s judiciary, Chief Justice Ibrahim Hamis Juma, publicly warned politicians to stay off his “territory” warning of grave consequences for those who do not. 

Corruption within the judiciary remains a concern, despite President Magufuli’s very public campaign against corruption.  According to the 2017 Afrobarometer Survey, the percentage of Tanzanians who believed that at least some/most/all of the Judiciary were corrupt was 48 percent/17 percent/3 percent, respectively.  The selection and appointment of judges in Tanzania is criticized for its non-transparent nature. The Judiciary Service Commission proposes judges to the President for appointment. However, the criteria and process for candidates is unknown. 

Regulations and enforcement actions are appealable and they are adjudicated in the national court system. 

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

In 2017, new laws/regulations were enacted that may impact the risk-return profile on foreign investments, especially those in the mining industry.  The laws/regulations include the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act 2017, Natural Wealth and Resources Contracts (Review and Renegotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act 2017, Written Laws (Miscellaneous Act) 2017, and Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018.   The three new acts were introduced by the executive branch under a certificate of urgency, meaning that standard advance publication requirements were waived to expedite passage. As a result, there was minimal stakeholder engagement.

Investors, especially those in natural resources and mining, have expressed concern about the effects of these new laws.  Two of the new laws apply to “natural wealth and resources,” which are broadly defined and not only include oil and gas, but in theory could include wind, sun, and air space.  Investors are encouraged to seek legal counsel to determine the effect these laws may have on existing or potential investments. For natural resource contracts, the laws remove rights to international arbitration and subject contracts, past and present, to Parliamentary review.  More specifically, the law states “Where [Parliament] considers that certain terms …or the entire arrangement… are prejudicial to the interests of the People and the United Republic by reason of unconscionable terms it may, by resolution, direct the Government to initiate renegotiation with a view to rectifying the terms.”  Further, if the GoT’s proposed renegotiation is not accepted, the offending terms are automatically expunged. “Unconscionable” is defined broadly, including catch-all definitions for clauses that are, for example, “inequitable or onerous to the state.” Under the law, the judicial branch does not play a role in determining whether a clause is “unconscionable.”

The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018 require that indigenous Tanzanian companies are given first preference for mining licenses.  An ‘indigenous Tanzanian company’ is one incorporated under the Companies Act with at least 51 percent of its equity owned by and 100 percent of its non-managerial positions held by Tanzanians.  Furthermore, foreign mining companies must have at least 5 percent equity participation from an indigenous Tanzanian company and must grant the GoT a 16 percent carried interest. Lastly, foreign companies that supply goods or services to the mining industry must incorporate a joint venture company in which an indigenous Tanzanian company must hold equity participation of at least 20 percent.

The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018 also set the timeframe for local content percentages to be raised over the next 10 years which vary by type of good or service provided.  There are immediate requirements to use 100 percent local content for financial, insurance, legal, catering, cleaning, laundry, and security services. All contractors must submit a local content plan to the GoT, which includes provisions to favor local content and meets required local content percentages.  The plan must include five sub plans on employment and training; research and development; technology transfer; legal services; and financial services. The regulations also require contractors to implement bidding procedures to acquire goods and services and to award contracts to indigenous Tanzanian companies if they do not exceed the lowest bidder by more than 10 percent.  There are also regular contractor reporting requirements. Violating these regulations can lead to a fine of up to TZS 500 million or five years imprisonment.      

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Fair Competition Commission (FCC) is an independent government body mandated to intervene, as necessary, to prevent significant market dominance, price fixing, extortion of monopoly rent to the detriment of the consumer, and market instability. The FCC has the authority to restrict mergers and acquisitions if the outcome is likely to create market dominance or lead to uncompetitive behavior.

Expropriation and Compensation

The constitution and investment acts require government to refrain from nationalization.  However, the GoT may expropriate property after due process for the purpose of national interest.  The Tanzanian Investment Act guarantees payment of fair, adequate, and prompt compensation; access to the court or arbitration for the determination of adequate compensation; and prompt repatriation in convertible currency where applicable.  For protection under Tanzania Investment Act, foreign investors require USD 500,000 minimum capital (a local one needs USD 100,000).

GoT authorities do not discriminate against U.S. investments, companies, or representatives in expropriation.  There have been cases of government revocation of hunting concessions that grant land rights to foreign investors, including a U.S.-based company with strategic investor status in 2016.  In late-2018, the GoT expropriated several dormant cashew-processing factories. In the same vein, in early-2019, the GoT reportedly repossessed 16 previously-privatized factories that were not in operation.  At the same time, the government issued a notice to more than 30 businesses, including hotels and other factories, warning them that if they did not present a plan for revitalizing their businesses, the GoT would repossess them too.  The ownership structure of these businesses unconfirmed; however, there are reports that some have foreign ownership. At least one factory with substantial U.S. investment reports that the GoT has blocked the sale of its assets. 

There are numerous examples of indirect expropriation, such as confiscatory tax regimes or regulatory actions that deprive investors of substantial economic benefits from their investments.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Tanzania is a member of both the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).  ICSID was established under the auspices of the World Bank by the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.  MIGA is World Bank-affiliated and issues guarantees against non-commercial risk to enterprises that invest in member countries. 

Tanzania is a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitration Awards.

The highly anticipated Public Private Partnership (PPP) (Amendment) Act, No. 9 of 2018 (the PPP Amendment Act) entered into force in September 2018.  PPP agreements are now subject to local arbitration under the arbitration laws of Tanzania. This provision augments the existing governing law provision which provides that the PPP agreement will be governed by Tanzanian law.  Therefore, in the event of a dispute, the parties must select a local arbitral forum i.e. the National Construction Council or the Tanzania Institute of Arbitrators. Additionally, Section 25A makes provision for PPP projects relating to natural wealth and resources to recognize the provisions under the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017 and the Natural Wealth and Resources (Review and Re-Negotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act, 2017 (collectively the Natural Wealth Laws).  These provisions include only local arbitration under Tanzanian law will be recognized as well as the right for Parliament to review any agreements in relation to, but not limited to, natural wealth and resources.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Investment-related disputes in Tanzania can be protracted.  The Commercial Court of Tanzania operates two sub-registries located in the cities of Arusha and Mwanza.  The sub-registries, however, do not have resident judges. A judge from Dar es Salaam conducts a monthly one-week session at each of the sub-registries.  The government said it intends to establish more branches in other regions including Mbeya, Tanga, and Dodoma, though progress has stagnated. Court-annexed mediation is also a common feature of the country’s commercial dispute resolution system.

Despite legal mechanisms in place, foreign investors have claimed that the GoT sometimes does not honor its agreements.  Additionally, investors continue to face challenges receiving payment for services rendered for GoT projects. One high profile example of such a dispute is that of U.S.-based Symbion Power, which in 2017 filed an application for ICSID arbitration seeking USD 561 million for alleged breach of contract of a purchase power agreement, and the dispute is ongoing.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

On 12 September 2018, the Tanzanian Parliament enacted the Public Private Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2018.  The amendment includes a provision requiring foreign investors to resolve disputes exclusively through Tanzania’s domestic courts, without recourse to international arbitration.  This has been a cause of alarm among international investors. The bill comes just a year after two natural resources legislation handed the Tanzanian government and parliament greater control over mining, oil and gas operations in the country, including the right to renegotiate or remove certain terms from existing contracts.

The Attorney General, Adelarus Kilangi, told Members of Parliament during the passage of the bill that the Tanzanian judicial system was best placed to hear disputes from international investors.  He further commented that the amendments were necessary to counteract the “bias” of international arbitration institutions, such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the panels of international arbitrators who hear such disputes.

In August 2018, Tanzania Electric Supply Co (Tanesco), wholly owned by the Tanzanian government, lost an appeal against an ICSID award in a long-running case against Standard Chartered Bank and was ordered to pay USD 148 million.  Tanesco is also facing a claim from U.S.-based Symbion Power for USD 561 million. There are at least 22 pending filings of international arbitration against Tanzania. 

Bankruptcy Regulations

According to the 2019 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, it takes an average of three years to conclude bankruptcy proceedings in Tanzania. The recovery rate for creditors on insolvent firms was reported at 20.3 U.S. cents on the dollar, with judgments typically made in local currency.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The TIC offers a package of investment benefits and incentives to both domestic and foreign investors without performance requirements.  A minimum capital investment of USD 500,000 if foreign owned or USD 100,000 if locally owned is required. These incentives include:

  • Discounts on customs duties, corporate taxes, and VAT paid on capital goods for investments in mining, infrastructure, road construction, bridges, railways, airports, electricity generation, agribusiness, telecommunications, and water services.
  • 100 percent capital allowance deduction in the years of income for the above mentioned types of investments – though there is ambiguity as to how this is accomplished.
  • No remittance restrictions. The GoT does not restrict the right of foreign investors to repatriate returns from an investment.
  • Guarantees against nationalization and expropriation. Any dispute arising between the GoT and investors may be settled through negotiations or submitted for arbitration.
  • Allowing interest deduction on capital loans and removal of the five-year limit for carrying forward losses of investors.

Investors may apply for “Strategic Status” or “Special Strategic Status” to receive further incentives.  The criteria used to determine whether an investor may receive these designations are available on TIC’s website (www.tic.co.tz/strategicInvestor  ). 

The government habitually introduces waivers through the Public Finance Act with the aim of attracting investment in certain targeted sectors. In Financial Year 2018/19, the government introduced a VAT exemption for the following items in order to encourage investment: Packaging materials produced for use by local manufacturers of pharmaceutical products; imported animal and poultry feeds additives; and sanitary pads. The government also introduced 100 percent tax amnesty on interest and penalties from July 1 to December 31, 2018 in order to encourage tax compliance among the business community.  

The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) oversees Tanzania’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).  EPZA’s core objective is to build and promote export-led economic development by offering investment incentives and facilitation services. Minimum capital requirements for EPZ and SEZ investors are USD 500,000 for foreign investors and USD 100,000 for local investors.  Investment incentives offered for EPZs include:

  • An exemption from corporate taxes for 10 years.
  • An exemption from duties and taxes on capital goods and raw materials.
  • An exemption on VAT for utility services and on construction materials.
  • An exemption from withholding taxes on rent, dividends, and interests.
  • Exemption from pre-shipment or destination inspection requirements.
  • SEZs offer similar incentives, excluding the 10 year exemption from corporate taxes.

The Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA) and the Zanzibar Free Economic Zones Authority (ZAFREZA) offer roughly equivalent incentives as those offered by TIC and EPZA policies.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Tanzania’s export processing zones (EPZs) and special economic zones (SEZs) are assigned geographical areas or industries designated to undertake specific economic activities with special regulations and infrastructure requirements.  EPZ status can also be extended to stand-alone factories at any geographical location. EPZ status requires the export of 80 percent or more of the goods produced while SEZ status has no export requirement, allowing manufacturers to sell their goods locally.  As of March 2018, there were 14 designated EPZ/SEZ industrial parks, 10 of which are in development, and 75 stand-alone EPZ factories.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act (see Section 12 Labor Policies and Practices below) requires employers to attempt to fill positions with Tanzanian citizens before seeking work permits for foreign employees, and to develop plans to transition to local employees.

In recognition of the fact that the local content (LC) initiative cuts across all economic sectors, the government decided that LC development should take a multi-sector approach, rather than being confined to a single ministry or sector.  In 2015, the government directed the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) to oversee implementation of local empowerment initiatives. The objective of the local content policy is to put local products and services – delivered by businesses owned and operated by Tanzanians – in an advantageous position to exploit opportunities emanating from inbound foreign direct investments.  In 2015, the GoT enacted The Petroleum Act 2015 and, subsequently, issued The Petroleum (Local Content) Regulations 2017. Similarly, in 2017, the GoT amended mining laws, issuing The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018. (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment for more on recent local content laws.)

The GoT requires banks to physically house their computer servers in Tanzania.  In 2016, the GoT launched a USD 94 million national data center (NDC), which is operated by the GoT’s Telecommunications Corporation (TTC).  Under the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTC) Act 2017, the TTC plans, builds, operates and maintains the “strategic telecommunications infrastructure,” which is defined as transport core infrastructure, data center and other infrastructure that the GoT proclaims “strategic” via official public notice.  It is not yet clear how the law will be implemented and whether telecommunications operators will be required to use the TTC’s data center or provide the TTC greater data access. 

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

All land is owned by the government and procedures for obtaining a lease or certificate of occupancy may be complex and lengthy.  Less than 15 percent of land has been surveyed, and registration of title deeds is handled manually, mainly at the local level. Foreign investors may occupy land for investment purposes through a government-granted right of occupancy (“derivative rights” facilitated by TIC), or through sub-leases from a granted right of occupancy.  Foreign investors may also partner with Tanzanian leaseholders to gain land access.

Land may be leased for up to 99 years, but the law does not allow individual Tanzanians to sell land to foreigners. There are opportunities for foreigners to lease land, including through TIC, which has designated specific plots of land (a land bank) to be made available to foreign investors.  Foreign investors may also enter into joint ventures with Tanzanians, in which case the Tanzanian provides the use of the land (but retains ownership, i.e., the leasehold).

Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced.  Though TIC maintains a land bank, restrictions on foreign ownership may significantly delay investments.  Land not in the land bank must go through a lengthy approval process by local-level authorities, the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Human Settlements Development (MoLHHSD), and the President’s Office to be designated as “general land,” which may be titled for investment and sale.

The MoLHHSD handles registration of mortgages and rights of occupancies and the Office of the Registrar of Titles issues titles and registers mortgage deeds.  Title deeds are recognized as collateral for securing loans from banks. In January 2018, the GoT amended the land law, requiring that loan proceeds secured by mortgaging underdeveloped land be used solely to develop the specific piece of land used as collateral.   The changes apply to general land managed by the MoLHSSD’s Commissioner for Lands, who must receive a report from the lender showing how loan proceeds will be used to develop the land. The law does not apply to village land allocated by village councils, which cannot be mortgaged to a financial institution.

Tanzania’s Registering Property rank in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report deteriorated from 142 in 2018 to 146 in 2019.  According to the report, it takes eight procedures and 67 days to register property compared the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 53.9 days

Intellectual Property Rights

The GoT’s Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) is responsible for registration and enforcement of copyrighted materials (e.g., music, film, software), while the registration of trademarks and patents is administered by the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA) within the Ministry of Industry and Trade.  It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. The Fair Competition Commission (FCC) promotes competition, protects consumers against unfair market conduct, and has quasi-judicial powers to determine trademark and patent infringement cases.  The FCC is also tasked with combating the sale of counterfeit merchandise. However, counterfeit human medicines, cosmetics and packaged food materials are handled by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority.

Counterfeiting is a growing challenge.  The Confederation of Tanzanian Industries (CTI) reported that between 2010 and 2016, the FCC carried out 138 raids, seized 1,151 containers containing counterfeit products, and identified 1,711 alleged offenders.  Based on this data, the FCC estimated 10 percent of Tanzanian goods are counterfeit. A previous CTI study, however, estimated that upwards of 50 percent of goods in Tanzania may be counterfeit. The ‘hot spots’ for counterfeit goods are Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza and Mbeya.  Despite its efforts, limited resources make it difficult for the GoT to adequately combat counterfeiting. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) is a self-listed publicly-owned company.  In 2013, the DSE launched a second tier market, the Enterprise Growth Market (EGM) with lower listing requirements designed to attract small and medium sized companies with high growth potential.  As of December 2017, DSE’s total market capitalization reached USD 10.5 billion, a 20.6 percent increase over the previous year’s figure. The Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA) Act facilitates the free flow of capital and financial resources to support the capital market and securities industry.  Tanzania, however, restricts the free flow of investment in and out of the country, and Tanzanians cannot sell or issue securities abroad unless approved by the CMSA.

Under the Capital Markets and Securities (Foreign Investors) Regulation 2014, there is no aggregate value limitation on foreign ownership of listed non-government securities.  Despite progress, the country’s capital account is not fully liberalized and only foreign individuals or companies from other EAC nations are permitted to participate in the government securities market.  Even with this recent development allowing EAC participation, ownership of government securities is still limited to 40 percent of each security issued.

Tanzania’s Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010 amended in 2016 by the Finance Act 2016 requires telecom companies to list 25 percent of their shares via an initial public offering (IPO) on the DSE.  Of the seven telecom companies that filed IPO applications with the CMSA, only Vodacom’s application received approval. In 2017, Vodacom planned to offer its shares from March 9 to April 19, but lack of demand required it to extend the offering period to July 28.  Moreover, to spur demand, the GoT opened the IPO to foreign investors who purchased 40 percent of the total shares offered.

As part of the Mining (Minimum Shareholding and Public Offering) Regulations 2016, large scale mining operators were required to float a 30 percent stake on the DSE by October 7, 2018.  On February 24, 2017, however, the GoT surprised the industry by amending the regulations so that the 30 percent stake had to be floated by August 23, 2017, rather than October 7, 2018. However, some mining companies have not listed on the DSE.

Money and Banking System

Finscope’s 2017 Financial Inclusion Report revealed that Tanzania’s financial inclusion rate increased to 65 percent in 2017 from 58 percent in 2013, primarily because of increased mobile phone usage.  However, participation in the formal banking sector still remains low. In 2017, low private sector credit growth and high non-performing loan (NPL) rates were persistent problems. In March 2017, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) cut its discount rate to 12 percent from 16 percent to boost lending and economic growth, the first time it had cut interest rates since 2013.  In April 2017, the BoT reduced commercial banks’ statutory minimum reserves (SMR) requirement from 10 to 8 percent. These measures did not adequately spur lending, so in August 2017, the BoT reduced its discount rate for the second time from 12 to 9 percent. Despite these measures, private sector credit growth was lower than expected and NPL rates in December 2017 remained more than double the BoT’s targeted 5 percent rate.

In 2018, the BoT continued to address problems in the banking sector.  In January 2018, the BoT closed five community banks for under capitalization and gave an additional three until June 2018 to raise capital.  In its February 14, 2018 Tanzania Country Partnership Framework FY18-FY22, the World Bank reported that Tanzania’s “financial sector is stable despite high nonperforming loans…, which must be addressed.”  In a February 19, 2018 Circular titled “Measures to Increase Credit to Private Sector and Contain Non-Performing Loans,” the BoT issued guidelines to boost lending and reduce NPLs.

As of March 31, 2018, the banking sector was composed of 41 commercial banks, 6 community banks, 5 microfinance banks, 3 development financial institutions, 3 financial leasing companies and 2 credit bureaus. The two largest banks are CRDB Bank and National Microfinance Bank (NMB), which represent almost 30 percent of the market.  Private sector companies have access to commercial credit instruments including documentary credits (letters of credit), overdrafts, term loans, and guarantees. Foreign investors may open accounts and earn tax-free interest in Tanzanian commercial banks.

The Banking and Financial Institution Act 2006 established a framework for credit reference bureaus, permits the release of information to licensed reference bureaus, and allows credit reference bureaus to provide to any person, upon a legitimate business request, a credit report.  Currently, there are two private credit bureaus operating in Tanzania – Credit Info Tanzania Limited and Dun & Bradstreet Credit Bureau Tanzania Limited.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

Tanzanian regulations permit unconditional transfers through any authorized bank in freely convertible currency of net profits, repayment of foreign loans, royalties, fees charged for foreign technology, and remittance of proceeds. The only official limit on transfers of foreign currency is on cash carried by individuals traveling abroad, which cannot exceed USD 10,000 over a period of 40 days. Investors rarely use convertible instruments.

In 2018 and 2019, the Bank of Tanzania inspected all forex shops in the country and ultimately found that most of them did not meet the requirements of new laws governing the businesses.  As a result, more than ninety percent of the Forex bureaus in country were closed. The government then licensed the commercial banks and Tanzania Post Corporation to open forex shops.

Remittance Policies

There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies that either tighten or relax access to foreign exchange for investment remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Tanzania has not established a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Public enterprises do not compete under the same terms and conditions as private enterprises because they have access to government subsidies and other benefits.  SOEs are active in the power, communications, rail, telecommunications, insurance, aviation, and port sectors. SOEs generally report to ministries and are led by a board.  Typically, a presidential appointee chairs the board, which usually includes private sector representatives. SOEs are not subjected to hard budget constraints. SOEs do not discriminate against or unfairly burden foreigners, though they do have access to sovereign credit guarantees.

As of June 2015, the GoT’s Treasury Registrar reported shares and interests in 215 public parastatals, companies and statutory corporations.  (See http://www.tro.go.tz/index.php/en/2014-12-17-09-13-44/commercial  )

Relevant ministry officials usually appoint SOEs’ board of directors to serve preset terms under what is intended to be a competitive process.  As in a private company, senior management report to the board of directors. Summary financial results for fiscal year 2017 of SOEs are included in the GoT’s consolidated financial statements (CFS) which are available online.  This year, however, the National Audit Office issued an adverse audit opinion, calling CFS accuracy into question.

Privatization Program

The government retains a strong presence in energy, mining, telecommunication services, and transportation.  The government is increasingly empowering the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation Limited (TTCL) with the objective of safeguarding the national security, promoting socio-economic development, and managing strategic communications infrastructure.  The government also acquired 51 percent of Airtel Telecommunication Company Limited and became the majority shareholderIn the past, the GoT has sought foreign investors to manage formerly state-run companies in public-private partnerships, but successful privatizations have been rare.  Though there have been attempts to privatize certain companies, the process is not always clear and transparent. In some instances, the GoT took back control as was the case in 2009-10 when the government nationalized formerly-privatized Tanzania Railways Limited, General Tyre, and Kilimanjaro International Airport based on mismanagement.

In 2010, the GoT enacted the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Act.  According to the act, any ministry, government department or agency, or statutory corporation may act as a PPP procuring authority.  The 2014 amendment of the PPP Act created a new PPP Center to be incorporated in the Office of the Prime Minister through merging the Coordination Unit and the Finance Unit.  It also set up a PPP Technical Committee to recommend PPP projects for approval by the National Investment Steering Committee. In spite of these developments, Tanzania’s Five Year Development Plan (2016-2021) (FYDP II) recognized weaknesses in the PPP legal framework and inadequate understanding and operationalization of PPP concepts as impediments to private sector financing.  As a result, FYDP II calls for an expanded role of the private sector through PPPs. Despite this goal, little progress has been made in this area.

In August 2017, President Magufuli instructed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments to revisit the terms of privatization and the ensuing performance of previously privatized companies/assets – most of which took place during the 1990s.  According to the Minister, of 156 privatized companies, 62 were operating normally, 28 were under-performing and 56 were no longer in operation. The GoT, in turn, has implemented a plan to repossess and subsequently retender idle companies/assets.  As a result, according to the Treasury Registrar Office, three companies were repossessed and an additional 12 companies are being considered for similar action by the Attorney General.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct (RBC) includes respecting human rights, environmental protection, labor relations and financial accountability, and it is practiced by a number of large foreign firms.  Tanzania has laws covering labor and environmental issues. The Employment and Labor Relations Act (ELRA) establishes labor standards, rights and duties, while the Labor Institutions Act (LIA) specifies the government entities charged with administering labor laws.

The GoT’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC) undertakes enforcement, compliance, review and monitoring of environmental impact assessments; performs research; facilitates public participation in environmental decision-making; raises environmental awareness; and collects and disseminates environmental information.  Stakeholders, however, have expressed concerns over whether the NEMC has sufficient funding and capacity to handle its broad mandate.

There are no legal requirements for public disclosure of RBC, and the GoT has not yet addressed executive compensation standards.  Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) listed companies, however, must release legally required information to shareholders and the general public.  In addition, the DSE signed a voluntary commitment with the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative in June 2016, to promote long-term sustainable investments and improve environmental, social and corporate governance.  Tanzania has accounting standards compatible with international accounting bodies.

The Tanzanian government does not usually factor in RBC into procurement decisions.  The GoT is responsible for enforcing local laws, however, the media regularly reports on corruption cases where offenders allegedly avoid sanctions.  There have also been reports of corporate entities collaborating with local governments to carry out controversial undertakings that may not be in the best interest of the local population.

Conflicts between mining companies and neighboring communities have been reported mostly in gold mining areas, leading to intrusion into mining sites and clashes with mining company guards and police.  For example, in June 2017, media reported that villagers invaded Acacia’s North Mara Mine demanding compensation, and leading to the arrest of 66 people and several injuries. Communities often protest the government’s decision to grant mining rights and/or seek compensation over allegations of death, injuries, or environmental damage.

Forty-one Tanzanian entities participate in the United Nations Global Compact Network which focuses on RBC.  Some foreign companies have engaged NGOs that monitor and promote RBC to avoid adversarial confrontations. In addition, some of the multinational mining companies who are signatories to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) have taken the lead and appointed NGOs to conduct programs to mitigate conflicts between the mining companies, surrounding communities, local government officials and the police.

Tanzania is a member of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2009 and in 2015 Tanzania enacted the Extractive Industries Transparency and Accountability Act, which demands that all new concessions, contracts and licenses are made available to the public.  The government produces EITI Reports that disclose revenues from the extraction of its natural resources.

9. Corruption

Tanzania has laws and institutions designed to combat corruption and illicit practices.  It is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, but it is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.  Although corruption is still viewed as a major problem, President Magufuli’s focus on anti-corruption has translated into an increased judiciary budget, new corruption cases, and a decline in perceived corruption.  This improvement is partly attributed to instituting electronic services which reduce the opportunity for corruption through human interactions at agencies such as the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA), and the Port Authority.

Tanzania has three institutions specifically focused on anti-corruption.  The PCCB prevents corruption, educates the public, and enforces the law against corruption.  The Ethics Secretariat and its associated Ethics Tribunal under the President’s office enforces compliance with ethical standards defined in the Public Leadership Codes of Ethics Act 1995.  Lastly, the Economic, Corruption and Organized Crime Court, created in 2016, prosecutes corruption cases. As of April 2017, the Court had registered a total of 25 cases – some of which are high-profile grand corruption cases.

Companies and individuals seeking government tenders are required to submit a written commitment to uphold anti-bribery policies and abide by a compliance program.  These steps are designed to ensure that company management complies with anti-bribery polices.

The GoT is currently implementing its National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan Phase III (2017-2022) (NACSAP III) which is a decentralized approach focused on broad government participation.  NACSAP III has been prepared to involve a broader domain of key stakeholders including GoT local official, development partners, civil society organization (CSOs), and the private sector. The strategy puts more emphasis on areas that historically have been more prone to corruption in Tanzania such as revenue collection of oil, gas, and natural resources.  Despite the outlined role of the GoT, CSOs, NGOs and media find it increasingly more difficult to investigate corruption in the current political environment. (See Chapter 11)

President Magufuli’s current anti-corruption campaign has affected public discourse about the prevailing climate of impunity, and some officials are reluctant to engage openly in corruption.  Transparency International (TI), which ranks perception of corruption in public sector, gave Tanzania a score of 36 points out of 100 for both 2017 and 2018. The TI ranking, however, improved from 116 out of 180 countries in 2017 to 99 in 2018.

Some critics, however, question how effective the initiative will be in tackling deeper structural issues that have allowed corruption to thrive.  Despite President Magufuli’s focus on anti-corruption, there has been little effort to institutionalize what often appear to be ad hoc measures, a lack of corruption convictions, and persistent underfunding of the country’s main anti-corruption bodies.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency responsible for combating corruption:

The Director General
Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau
P.O. Box 4865, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255 22 2150043   Email: dgeneral@pccb.go.tz

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Executive Director
Legal and Human Rights Centre
P.O. Box 75254, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255 22 2773038/48   Email: lhrc@humanrights.or.tz

10. Political and Security Environment

Since gaining independence, Tanzania has enjoyed a relatively high degree of peace and stability compared to its neighbors in the region.  Tanzania has held five national multi-party elections since 1995, the most recent in 2015. Mainland Tanzania government elections have been generally free of political violence.  Elections on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, however, have been marred by political violence several times since 1995.

October 2015 general elections were conducted in a largely open and transparent atmosphere; however, simultaneous elections in Zanzibar were controversially annulled after an opposition candidate declared victory.  A heavily criticized re-run election was held on March 20, 2016 despite an opposition boycott. Since the 2015 election, the GoT has placed several restrictions on political activity, including severely limiting the ability of opposition political parties and civil society organizations to debate issues publicly, or peacefully assemble.  An attempted assassination of opposition politician Tundu Lissu in October 2017 resulted in international calls for investigation; as of May 2018 police had not identified a suspect. Subsequent by-elections in 2017 and 2018 were marred by allegations of irregularities, and instances of political violence, including the unintended police killing of a young woman on apublic bus near a political demonstration.

Over a period of several months in 2017, a string of 43 killings took place; victims included local government officials and police in the southern half of Tanzania’s Pwani region near Dar es Salaam.  Authorities, who referred to the incident as presenting “unprecedented security threats and challenges” established a special police zone in the area and ultimately succeeded in halting the killings after a violent confrontation with the alleged perpetrators.

In addition to monitoring the political climate, foreign investors remain concerned about land tenure issues. Although the government owns all land in Tanzania and oversees the issuance of land leases of up to 99 years, many Tanzanian citizens judge that foreign investors exploit Tanzanian resources, sometimes resulting in conflict between investors and nearby residents. In Arusha, some of these conflicts have led to violence, prompting the GoT to emphasize its commitment to supporting foreign investment while also ensuring the intended benefit of the investments to Tanzanian citizens.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The GoT’s Five Year Development Plan 2016-2021 (FYDP II), which is in its third year of implementation, acknowledges Tanzania’s shortage of skilled labor and the importance of professional training to support industrialization.  The Integrated Labor Force Survey Analytical Report of 2014 found that only 3.6 percent of Tanzania’s 20 million person labor force is highly skilled.  On the regional front, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have committed to the EAC’s 2012 Mutual Recognition Agreement of engineers, making for a more regionally competitive engineering market.

In Tanzania, labor and immigration regulations permit foreign investors to recruit up to five expatriates with the possibility of additional work permits granted under specific conditions.

The Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act 2015 introduced stricter rules for hiring foreign workers.  Under the Act, the Labor Commissioner must determine if “all possible efforts have been explored to obtain a local expert” before approving a non-citizen work permit.  In addition, employers must submit “succession plans” for foreign employees, detailing how knowledge and skills will be transferred to local employees.

Non-citizens may be granted two-year work permits, renewable up to five years, while foreign investors may be granted 10 year work permits which may be extended if the investor is deemed to be contributing to the economy and well-being of Tanzanians.  Some stakeholders fear that this provision creates an opening for corruption and arbitrarily prejudicial decisions against foreign investors. Since the passage of the Act, GoT officials have been conducting aggressive “special permit inspections” to verify the validity of work permits.  The process for obtaining work permits remains immensely bureaucratic, opaque at times, and slow.

Mainland Tanzania’s minimum wage, which has not changed since July 2013, is set by categories covering 12 employment sectors. The minimum wage ranges from TZS 100,000 (USD 45) per month for agricultural laborers to TZS 400,000 (USD 180) per month for laborers employed in the mining sector.  Zanzibar’s minimum wage is TZS 300,000 (USD 135), after being increased from TZS 150,000 (USD 68) in April 2017.

Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar governments maintain separate labor laws. Workers on the mainland have the right to join trade unions.  Any company with a recognized trade union possessing bargaining rights can negotiate in a Collective Bargaining Agreement. As of 2012, unionized workers comprised 13 percent of the formal sector work force.  In the agricultural sector, the country’s largest employment sector, 5-8 percent of the work force is unionized. In the public sector, the government sets wages administratively, including for employees of state-owned enterprises.

Mainland workers have the legal right to strike and employers have the right to a lockout.  The law restricts the right to strike when doing so may endanger the health of the population. Workers in certain sectors are restricted from striking or subject to limitations.  In 2017, the GoT issued regulations that strengthened child labor laws, created minimum one-year terms for certain contracts, expanded the scope of what is considered discrimination, and changed contract requirements for outsourcing agreements.

The labor law in Zanzibar applies to both public and private sector workers.  Zanzibar government workers have the right to strike as long as they follow procedures outlined in the Employment Act of 2005, but they are not allowed to join mainland-based labor unions.  Zanzibar requires a union with 50 or more members to be registered and sets literacy standards for trade union officers. An estimated 40 percent of Zanzibar’s workforce is unionized. (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment for more on recent local content laws.)

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

In 1996, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) signed an incentive agreement with the GoT.  . The current portfolio includes projects in agriculture, energy, microfinance and logistics. OPIC provides financing or insurance to these projects.  In addition, USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) provides guarantees for commercial loans and has active portfolio guarantees with four banks to encourage lending to small and medium sized enterprises.  Tanzania is also a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which offers political risk insurance and technical assistance to attract FDI.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2017 $50,479 2017 $52,090 www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2017 $1,383 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

* Source for Host Country Data: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); 2017 GDP: TZS 116,101,908,000,000 (Ex/rate TZS/USD: TZS 2300/USD)


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Economic Officer
U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam
686 Old Bagamoyo Road
Msasani, Dar es Salaam
Tel: 255-22-229-4000
drseconomic@state.gov