Ethiopia to allow foreigners to buy real estate


A hotel being built on the top of a hill in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, seen in October 2018. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)


A hotel being built on the top of a hill in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, seen in October 2018. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

  • Ethiopia forbids foreigners from owning real estate.
  • It now plans to open that market up, with legislation supposedly in the final states.
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is facing a big pile of foreign debt, and has little by the way of foreign currency reserves.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has unveiled plans to allow foreign nationals to buy real estate and to open up retailing to international companies.

Currently, foreigners are forbidding from owning either residential or commercial buildings.

The announcement came as Africa’s second most populous country, with about 120 million people, seeks to shore up its finances.

“We will bring in a law for foreigners to own property,” Abiy told a meeting of business executives that was broadcast by state media outlets late Saturday.

He said the legislation was in the final stages of being drafted.

In addition, Abiy said the government aimed to ease restrictions in the retail sector and open it up to international players, not just Ethiopians.

The landlocked country has about $28 billion of external debt and is also grappling with sky-high inflation and a shortage of foreign currency reserves.

After coming to power in 2018, Abiy announced an ambitious reform package to liberalise Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy.

But in recent years the state of the economy has deteriorated sharply and the will to continue the reforms has largely stalled.

Ethiopia has however partly opened up the telecommunications sector, issuing a licence to Kenyan telecoms giant Safaricom and announcing its intention to sell off a stake in the state-owned Ethio Telecom.

The government has also said it plans to allow foreign investment in the banking sector.



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