7 Major Highlights on Civil Society Organizations Registration Proclamation

By Dagnachew Tesfaye

Email: dagnachew@dmethiolawyers.com

Civil Society Organizations are administered by the Organizations of Civil Societies Proclamation No.1113/2019 (hereafter the Proclamation) done on March 12/2019 to be effective from the date of publication in the Federal Negarit Gazette. This brief article attempts to show major highlights of the Civil Society Organization Registration Proclamation. The article is divided into seven parts. Part one shall deal with definitions. Part two shall look upon types of local organization, with emphasis on two of those types. Part three and four shall deal with the requirements for registration of local and foreign civil society organizations. And part five to seven shall state the effects in terms of rights, responsibilities and income generation benefits to such registered civil organizations. A brief conclusion shall follow.

Local and Foreign Organizations

The Proclamation defines local and foreign organizations. “Local Organization” are defined as a civil society organization formed under the laws of Ethiopia by Ethiopians, foreigners resident in Ethiopia or both. Here foreigners resident in Ethiopia are granted the right to establish local organizations. On the other hand “Foreign Organization” is defined as a non-governmental organization formed under the laws of foreign countries and registered to operate in Ethiopia.

Types of Local Organizations

Two or more persons may establish Local Organization. Here on the Article 17 of the Proclamation there is a reference to ‘Indigenous Organization’. There is no definition of Indigenous Organization in the Proclamation. However, the Amharic version of Article 17, which is the prevailing one in terms of interpretation, refers indigenous organizations as ‘Local Organizations’.

There are five types of Local Organizations. These are a/ An Association b/ A Board-led Organization c/ A charitable Endowment d/ A charitable Trust and e/ A Charitable Committee. For the purpose of this article, a focus shall be made on the first two i.e. on an association and a board-led organizations.

An Association and Board-Led Organization

An Association is an organization formed by five or more members and governed by a General Assembly as the supreme decision-making body. For the purpose of this Proclamation, association shall include professional associations. The organizational chart of an association will have a General Assembly at the top and then in hierarchy Executive Committee, Manager, Auditor and other departments as may be necessary. Details regarding the structure and governance of an Association will be determined by the associations internal rules.

One the other hand a board-led organization can be formed by two or more founders. The board is the supreme organ. The Board shall have a minimum of five and a maximum of thirteen members. The first board members shall be designated by the founders. The term of service and appointment procedures for subsequent board members shall be prescribed by the rules of the organization. Here the unique nature of Board-led organization is that persons who are related by consanguinity or affinity with the officers of the organization may not be board members. The organizational chart of a board-led organization shall have a manager accountable to the Board and necessary staff as may be necessary. The particulars shall be determined by the rules of the organization.

Documents Required for Registration of Local and Foreign Organization

An application for registration by Local Organization shall be signed by the founders and should contain the following particulars: a) the minutes of the formative meeting indicating the names, addresses and citizenship of the founders; b) copy of the identity card or passport of the founders; c) the name of the organization and its logo, if it has one; d) the objectives of the organization and its intended sector of operation; e) the Region where it intends to operate; f) the rules of the organization approved by the founders; and g) the organization’s address.

On the other hand an application for registration of a foreign organization shall, in addition to the conditions mentioned from a-g above, be accompanied with the following documents: a) duly authenticated certificate of registration showing its establishment from its country of origin; b) duly authenticated resolution of its competent organ to operate in Ethiopia; c) duly authenticated power of delegation of the country representative; e) letter of recommendation from the embassy in which the charity is incorporated or in the absence of such by a competent authority in the country of origin from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and; f) a work plan for a minimum period of two years.

Effects in Terms of Rights

The Proclamation provides that any organization which registered upon fulfillment the registration requirements provided in the Proclamation : a/ shall have legal personality; b/ can sue, be sued and enter into contracts; c/ without prejudice to laws that require special license, can operate in the sector of its choice; d/ to own, administer and transfer movable and immovable property. However, the proceeds from the disposal of the property may not be transferred as donation for the benefit of members or to another activity which is not its mission; and the Organization which transfer property shall inform to the Agency within 15 days; e/shall have the right to engage in any lawful activity to accomplish its objectives; f/ local organizations shall have the right to operate in Ethiopia or abroad, or implement objectives having global, regional or sub regional nature; g/ can implement project activities on its own or to provide financial and technical support to other organizations; h/ may propose recommendations for the change or amendment of existing laws, policies or practices, or issuance of new laws and policies of those which have relationship with the activities they are performing. However, unless it is permitted with an other law Foreign Organizations and Local Organizations which are established by foreign citizens which are residents of Ethiopia may not engage in lobbying political parties, engage in voters education or election observations; i/ foreign organizations may implement project activities or work in partnership with Local Organizations by providing financial, technical or in kind support; j/ to the extent possible, Foreign Organizations by working in partnership with local and Governmental Organizations, can give support to build the capacity of Local Organizations; o) shall have the right to move its properties from one region to another region or city administration, unless the Project Agreement states that such properties may not be transferred because they are necessary for the sustainability of a specific project it is implementing; p) have the right to engage in any lawful business and investment activity in accordance with the relevant trade and investment laws in order to raise funds for the fulfillment its objectives. However, the profit to be obtained from such activities may not be transferred for the benefit of members; q) shall have the right to solicit, receive and utilize funds from any legal source to attain its objective; r/shall get a written approval of the Agency to open a bank account. The Agency shall respond to requests for such approval within five days from receipt of the request; s/ all financial transactions shall be performed through a bank account opened by an Organization in its name; t/ all banks have the obligation to provide the bank statement of accounts held by any Organization to the Agency when requested. w/ the Bank Account transaction can be done in the context of the Organization rules; x/ no organization may employ a foreign national who is not given work permit under the relevant laws. Notwithstanding the stipulation above, a foreign organization shall not be barred from appointing a foreign national as its country representative; y/ foreign nationals other than the country representative may only be hired if the office granting work permit verifies that the work cannot be performed by Ethiopians. z/ some provisions of the law will not apply to foreign nationals who are not salaried employees but come to Ethiopia to professionally contribute by working as volunteers for a period not exceeding one year.

The Responsibilities

As there are rights and benefits, corresponding responsibilities are laid down on the Proclamation. The responsibilities include a/ an organization shall make the necessary efforts to ensure that its activities help to bring about sustainable development, contribute to the democratization process, promote the rights and interests of its members or enhance the profession they are engaged in; b/ an organization which is established for the benefit of the general public or third parties shall ensure that its activities take into account the interests of women, Children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and others exposed to threat or vulnerable groups of the society; c/ an organization cannot engage in sectors which require additional permit by law without getting the necessary permit from the relevant government bodies; d/ in performing their duties all members, officers and employees of the Organization have the responsibility to give primacy to the Organization’s interest and take the necessary precaution to avoid conflict of interest; e/the Administrative cost of an Organization established for the benefit of the general public or that of third Parties may not exceed twenty percent of its total income. For the purpose of this provision, “Administrative Expense” shall mean expenses which are not related to the project activities of an organization but are necessary to ensure the continuity of an Organization and related to administrative activities, and shall include: salaries and benefits of administrative employees; purchase of consumables and fixed assets and repair and maintenance expenses related to administrative matters; office rent, parking fees, audit fees, advertisement expenses, bank service fees, fees for electricity, fax, water and internet services; postal and printing expenses; tax, purchase and repair of vehicles for administrative purposes, and procurement of oil and lubricants for the same; insurance costs, penalties and attorney fees. However the Agency may issue Directives regarding organizations exempted from the application of 20% administrative expense rule.

Income Generation Related Benefits

Though civil organizations are established for non-profit making endeavor, in exceptional circumstances such organizations are granted the right to generate income. The income generating activities are granted and operated in the following situations: a/ an organization which engages in income generating activities in may do so by establishing a separate business organization (company), acquiring shares in an existing company, collect public collections or operating its business as a sole proprietorship; b/shall open a separate bank account and keep separate books of account for its business in accordance with the relevant commercial and tax laws; c/ the relevant tax, commercial registration and business licensing, and investment laws shall be applicable to income generation activities under this provision; e/ the income that is generated from income generating activities will be used to cover administrative and program costs of the organization; f/ the income and resources that are acquired from income generating activities shall not be transferred or shared for the benefit of members or workers of the organization; g/ when the organizations collect public collections, they shall inform to the Agency; and h/ an organizations engaged in income generating activities based on this Article shall inform to the Agency within fifteen days.


The Civil Society Proclamation has made registration of civil society organizations easier. The Proclamation incorporated several benefits of registration. Income generation benefit is one of the major benefits. Employment of foreigners shall follow work permit procedures. However foreign citizens are allowed to occupy the position of country representatives. Other foreign nationals can serve up to one year non-salaried professional volunteer position. The Proclamation is a game changer for civil society organisations in a positive way.

The Prevention and Control of Covid 19 Pandemic Directive No 30/2020

By Dagnachew Tesfaye

Email: dagnachew@dmethiolawyers.com

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute has issued Directive No 30/2020( hereafter the Directive) . The Directive is effective from October 5/2020. The power to issue the Directive emanates from Article 72 (2) of the Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation No. 1112/2019, Article 55(3) of the Food, Medicine, and Healthcare Administration and Control Proclamation No. 661/2009, and Article 98 of the Council of Ministers Regulation on Food, Medicine, and Healthcare Administration and Control No. 299/2013.

The scope of application of the Directive is on all over Ethiopia. The aim of the Directive is to prevent and control of Covid-19 pandemic. The Directive is divided into ten parts.

Part one of the Directive deals with definitions and scope of the Directive.

Part two of the directive put detailed prohibited activities and duties imposed. It is prohibited for any person who knows he infected with COVID-19 to enter the country, mix with the general public or meet with people in any situation that may allow the virus to spread. It is prohibited for any person to shake hands with another as a greeting or for any other purpose. It is prohibited to make deliberate physical contact with each other. It is not allowed for employees of any public or private organization to provide service without maintaining a distance of two adult strides and without wearing masks. It is prohibited to provide service to individuals who are not maintaining a distance of two adult strides and not wearing masks three patrons at a single table. And it is illegal to stand or sit without maintaining a distance of two adult strides in market places, transport depots, places where public services are provided or any other public space where a large number of people are found;

Until it is decided wearing a mask is no longer necessary, it is prohibited for any person to be found without a mask anywhere outside his residence or move from one place to another. Nevertheless, this provision is not applicable to minors who are under 6 years of age or individuals having the respiratory or other related medical case that can be proven by evidence. It is not allowed for any business organization to provide service to any person who is not covering his mouth and nose with a mask.

It is prohibited for any public or private school or for any public or private college or university to provide education until it is decided it is possible to conduct classes face-to-face or without respecting the directives that shall be enacted regarding precautionary measures in methods of education delivery or the general teaching and learning work or other detailed standards of education delivery;

It is prohibited for any daycare center to provide service until it is decided it is allowed to provide service without respecting the directives that shall be enacted on the manner of providing the service taking cautionary measures.

The duties imposed are divided into four specific areas. These are in employee protection, customer protection, sector specific and duties on individuals.

Employee related duties imposed include any public and private organizations, or organizations in the industry and production sector or any other sector have a duty to use various mediums to make information regarding the disease accessible to their employees. Employers are duty bound to provide materials useful to prevent the disease at their gates and other necessary places. Employer should rearrange working places to allow sufficient air circulation. Employer should provide precautionary materials useful to prevent the spread of the disease, ensure employees wear masks.

Customer related duties include any public or private service provider shall provide sanitary materials useful for preventing the spread of the virus, mark spots where customers could stand maintaining a two adult stride distance, ensure that customers are wearing masks and taking the necessary precautionary measures;

For the transport,construction and any hotel, tour operator and other organizations in the tourism sectors, the duties imposed are as follows. Any cross country or inter-city transport service providers have a duty to carry passengers in accordance with the law setting the maximum carrying capacity, deny service to individuals who are not wearing masks; open windows to allow sufficient air circulation in the vehicle and provide service by implementing other necessary precautionary measures provided in directives enacted by the sector.

Construction project employers have a duty to provide the necessary sanitary materials such as water, soap, mask, sanitizer or alcohol, thermometer and anti-viral materials on the construction sites. The employer must ensure the employees work maintaining their distance to the extent possible. The employer should respect and make sure others respect precautionary measures provided in directives enacted by the sector to prevent proneness to the COVID-19 pandemic in the construction sector.

Any hotel, tour operator and others organizations in the tourism sector have a duty to make sure there is a distance of two adult strides between their employees and customers. The organization should ensure they are wearing masks, prepare materials necessary to prevent the disease. The enterprise must provide their employees with precautionary materials useful to prevent the spread of the disease. And provide tourism services by taking precautionary measures provided in directives enacted by the sector.

And individuals have a duty to inform the Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, the nearest health institution or official of any person he/she suspects of being infected with the disease. And any person who suspects he/she is infected with COVID-19 has a duty to be tested by reporting to the appropriate body and shall take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the virus from being transmitted to others.

Part three is precautionary measures for home isolation and care.

Part four deals with quarantine and boarder health control. This part covers duties on travelers with a test result of RT PCR coming through international airports in Ethiopia. Such travelers shall bring negative RT PCR test from the country he/she is coming from done up to 120 hours or five days before arriving in Ethiopia. A returnee coming through international airports of the country with no certificate of negative RT PCR test, has the duty to give sample of RT PCR test, have his/her address registered and self-quarantine at home until the result is known. Transit passengers passing through international airports of the country are not allowed to leave the airport or designated hotel by the air line and cannot enter the city or mix with the general public. Similar duties and procedures have been laid for people crossing land boarders. Finally any corpse sent to Ethiopia from abroad must be accompanied by death certificate indicating the cause of death. The funeral ceremony shall be conducted following the precautionary measure listed in the Directive.

Part five lists down duties imposed during corpse arrangement and enshrouding, transporting the corpse and funeral ceremony and duties imposed after the funeral ceremony.

Part six deals with precautionary measures that need to be taken during meetings. Meeting up to 50 individuals is allowed with all the necessary cautionary measures. When the attendees of the meeting are more than 50 individuals, permit from the Ministry of Peace or other regional peace and security organs should be obtained. Precautionary measures that need to be taken by host organizers, conference service organizers and attendees are listed.

Part seven puts cautionary measures during religious ceremony, in-house social ceremonies and holiday held in public squares. One-fourth of the maximum occupancy, distance of two adult strides need to be maintained in religious ceremonies and holidays held in public. Regarding in-house ceremonies like birthday, graduation, mahiber, and other in-house ceremonies, it is prohibited to celebrate with individuals other than family members.

Part eight deals precautionary measures that need to be taken with cafe, bars, restaurants, night clubs, coffee shops, recreational and amusement service providers, cinemas, theaters and art galleries and sport tournaments. It is prohibited to serve more than 3 people in a table and there shall be a two-meter distance between each. Night clubs, cinemas, theater and art galleries are responsible to ensure no more than one-fourth of the maximum occupancy size and a two -meter distance between customers. Sport tournaments like football, volleyball, handball, basketball, tennis, athletics and other tournaments shall not be attended by spectators and fans.

Part nine provides with restrictions and cautionary measures in physically visiting elders’ care centers and rehabilitation centers and prisoners. It is prohibited to physically visit elder’s care centers and rehabilitation centers. Prisoners visit shall be conducted with distance and other precautionary measures.

The last part i.e. part ten deals with miscellaneous provisions including duty to cooperate, legal liability and effective date of the Directive.

In conclusion Directive No 30/2020 provides prohibited activities and duties imposed on individual, social and economic aspects of Ethiopians to prevent and control Covid-19. Every person and institutions shall have the duty to cooperate for the implementation of this Directive. Any person who contravenes the restrictions and duties provided in this Directive shall be held liable as per the relevant Criminal law.


Telecom: Communication Service Licence

By Dagnachew Tesfaye

Email: dagnachew@dmethiolawyers.com

The Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) has been established by Communication Service Proclamation No 1148/2019. The Proclamation has tasked ECA with the power to the issue communication service licence.

The requirements of acquiring of Communication service licence , the terms and conditions of such licence shall be determined by ECA in consultation with stakeholders. Here ‘communication service’ has been defined to mean service offered to the public consisting of the dissemination or interchange audio, video or data content using telecommunication media and of physical content using postal service, but does not include broadcasting.

Under Article 19 of this Proclamation ownership of telecommunication operator or telecommunication network has been made open for both domestic and foreigner private investors. ‘Telecommunication operator’ shall mean an entity authorized by the authority pursuant to this Proclamation to provide telecommunication services. ‘Telecommunication network’ is also defined to mean the collection of telecommunication line and associated switching systems that is used for the provision of telecommunication service. The later term i.e. ‘Telecommunication service’ is defined as the provision by a licensee of the conveyance of telecommunications directly to the public or to telecommunications operators.

On the other hand, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) under the Investment Proclamation No 1180/2020 is tasked to accept and handle Investments coming into the country. EIC administers wholly foreign owned investment; Joint investment made by domestic and foreign investors; Investment made by a foreign national, not Ethiopian by origin, who is treated as a domestic investor by the Investment Proclamation; and Investment made in areas eligible for incentives by a domestic investor who is required to obtain a business license from an appropriate Federal Body.

However, Article 4(2) of the Investment Proclamation delegated some of the powers of EIC to different other government authorities. For example EIC’s jurisdiction in issuance, renewal, amendment, substitution, replacement, and cancellation of investment permits and the issuance of investment expansion or upgrading permits for air transport services has been delegated to Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA). The generation or transmission or distribution of electric power is delegated to Ethiopian Energy Authority (EEA) . Similarly the issuance of permits, renewal, amendment, substitution, replacement and cancellation or issuance of permits for expansion or upgrading in the area of communication services is delegated to the ECA.

ECAA, EEA and ECA shall submit to EIC a quarterly report regarding services they rendered through their delegated power. ECAA, EEA and ECA shall coordinate with EIC to undertake studies identifying sectoral potentials and sector specific investment developments strategies and engage in investment promotion works.

To sum up issuance of communication license in the telecommunication sector is assigned to ECA . ECA is in the process of selecting two telecommunication operators to grant its first communication license. ECA is also conducting stakeholder consultation to issue different types of directives.