The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

7 June 2014

Ethiopia: Land Issue Dominates Public Private Consultative Forum

The Ethiopian Public Private Consultative Forum (EPPCF) of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) opened its eighth forum on Thursday at the Hilton Hotel focusing on the issue of protection of property rights.

The consultative forum was attended by Kebede Chane, Minster in the Ministry of Trade, the newly-elected president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA), Solomon Afewerk, and representatives of the private sector.

During the consultative forum, EPPCF presented a study that noted that a well-specified property rights administration stimulates private investment by encouraging property rights holders to invest in their property. However, representatives of the private sector said that the current property rights laws and administration do not fully recognize the potential economic value of properties, including land.

After presenting the problems and the gaps in the law to administer property rights, the private sector proposed many recommendations to further strengthen the property rights administration in Ethiopia in line with the constitution.

For instance, while acknowledging the expropriation of properties for a continued public infrastructure development in the country, a more narrowed-down definition to the term "public purpose" was said to be necessary.

In this regard, the forum stressed the need for clear guidelines on compensation of properties transferred to private investment use. Kebede said that, like the previous consultative forums, the aim of the forum was also to pin-point the problems and challenges of the private sector and to provide solutions. "In this regard I believe the questions and problems will be addressed in line with the policies, the strategies, and the laws of the country," he said.

Although the issue of land dominated the discussion, during the half-day consultative forum other issues such as intellectual properties like lack of overwhelming intellectual property policy and gaps in legislation with regard to trademarks, copyrights and so on were also raised and discussed. The Ethiopian Public Private Consultative Forum (EPPCF) is mandated by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in July 2010 between the then Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA). It was established in 2011 and has organized seven public private dialogues.

The MoU is a result of years of negotiations between the private sector and the government to establish a formal mechanism for Public-Private dialogue.

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