Land use system of Ethiopia: a model to the world.

“There is a hope of restoring the value of land to the nation of Ethiopia.” Kidane G. Hiwot

A brief history of, and commentary relating to the land use trend in Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie Regime 1930-1974
During Hailesilssie1930-1974, land was owed by the minority elite feudal lords and urban landowners making the majority of the population their tenants. The rights of ownership of land both for own use, for rent, and speculation were recognized as inalienable rights of every member of society, despite the fact that the few elite ruling members benefited from this mode of landownership, feudal and their follower possess large plot of land as much as they can.

Also land was granted to individuals/peasants, who were then allowed to use, rent, and inherit family members. And peasants were obliged to pay different kinds of land related taxes, usually paid in kind.

The Derg Regime
The Derg military regime deposed Haile Selassie in 1974, and follow the socialist command economy Abolished feudal system and land lord-tenant relationship but allowed private ownership of land for own use and infact gave landownership title free of charge only collecting taxes on little deeds and development on land. But, begin its grievance by confiscating private property (extra residence houses) to form equal nations by making the rich poor, and nationalised all land claiming that all land is public property to be dispensed with according to rules and regulations formulated by the state claiming that the state is the custodian of public interests.

EPRDF (Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front) deposed the Derg regime (socialist military dictatorship) in May 1991. The two previous regimes who had gave radical and perpetual opportunity to the few elites and their families to benefit from Land; public common property: farming, residential, industrial and mining site, while depriving the remaining fellow citizens from such common natural opportunity right access for use and benefit.

The current regime unlike the previous two regimes, entirely different set of land use policy, rural & urban land reform, that change land holding/use rights system, may stroke the path of development & secure the equal rights of citizens, (men & women), access to land use, retain the value of common property; land, for common use and enhance government revenue from reliable and progressive source of revenue. The equal right to land enshrined in the proclamation No. 1/1995 constitution in Article 40, #3states: “The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all natural resources, is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia. Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.” And the relationship to land narrowed to a lessee-leaser (tenant -landowner/state) relationship, and can create hopeful steps to reduce the gap causes between “progress & poverty”(unearned richness & poor).

The vital work letting out land for the highest bidders, applied in Ethiopia, to reduce poverty, unemployment, secure equal rights of its citizens to land use and its natural opportunities, which is granted by creator to all human beings equally. And collecting its value of land for common benefit; that vowed with 1/1995 constitution proclamation Article 41#3/ states: “Every Ethiopian national has the right to equal access to publicly funded social service” And with urban land lease proclamation 721/2011, part two Fundamental principle of lease #1/ “The right to use of urban land by lease shall be permitted in order to realise the common interest and development of the people.”

Land lease proclamation has set different lease period for residential, industrials, etc. the duration depends upon the purpose of land use, the lease period range from 60-99 years. The lease payment amount depends upon each region, but the first down payment not less than 10%, the remaining payment will be annually during lease period. Ethiopia can be a model to LDC and the world, a country stepping to alleviate poverty, by adopting progressive revenue system and secure citizens equal right to the use of land for development, by making land common property, and make land neutral, reliable & progressive revenue source.

There is visible fact that, Ethiopia currently begun crawling towards development, to reduce and ending hunger & poverty, and yearn satiety time. Annually thousands of condominium houses are building to reduce homelessness.

For the last innumerable years Ethiopia had not utilized the Blue Nile River (Ethiopian called it ABAY river) the river start from Ethiopia and flow into northwest desert where it meets with White Nile river. Since the last three year Ethiopia, the owner of Blue Nile started utilize the resource building a Dam to produce 6000mw hydroelectric power, Ethiopians applause on this “self financing” dam building.

There is visible swift infrastructure development progress such as roads, electrical rail road and 4G mobile network, providing and improving these infrastructure and utilities will increase the value of land.

Currently registration of fixed property (land & building) started in Addis Ababa and will continue in regions it benefits:

  • To provide urban property database and improve municipal tax collection system and urban planning.
  • Easily identify the location of urban property.
  • Owner of property clearly understand their rights and obligations

Why importance of leasing urban land:

  • Land is fixed in supply and its value increase from time to time parallel with the increase of population.
  • It is a reliable and gain enough progressive revenue of local municipal governments to provide public utilities and infrastructures.
  • Invite domestic & foreign investors who can create employment opportunities for citizens and introduce new technologies.
  • Principal & progressive self financing revenue resource.
  • Neutral, politically palatable and applicable in multi ethnic society.
  • Reduce means of unearned richness & speculators dream of hope.
  • Citizens share the value of common property indirectly.
  • It strength local-regional governments’ relationships.


Kidane G. Hiwot,
P.O.Box 805,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
East Africa.
Phone: +251 913 325 659


Enhancing Land Use Efficiency through Appropriate Land Policies in Ethiopia
John M. Cohen & Peter H. Koehn: Rural and Urban Land Reform in Ethiopia, April 1978
Ethiopia, its Land Laws and the Potential to Improve Lives
“Progress & Poverty”, 1879, Henry George
“Geophilos” : Gail Warden; Spring 2001 No. 01 (1) / Additional information
Ethiopian 1995 constitution
Lease holding of urban lands No. 721/2011, Addis Ababa, 28th, November, 2011.
While Egypt Struggles, Ethiopia Builds over the Blue Nile: Controversies and the Way Forward
Ancestral Rivers of the World 
Blue Nile @ National Geographic Magazine
CNN - Ethiopia builds infrastructure for growth / Additional information