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No Foreigner Can Own Land In Tanzania

No Foreigner Can Own Land In Tanzania
Tanzania has a common sense land policy.

AFRICANGLOBE – Tanzania’s Land Act No. 4 of 1999 explicitly states that no foreigner can own land in the country.

According to the former executive director of HakiArdhi, Yefred Myenzi, the Act spells out how land can be used, including leasehold.

“In Tanzania we have land laws categorised as customary and statutory laws, with the later having overriding powers in case there are problems with the former. Users of land are given rights of occupancy for periods of 33, 66 and 99 years, depending on the use,” said Mr Myenzi, adding, “Our system is similar to that of Uganda with the only difference being that in Uganda there is land that falls under the Buganda kingdom and it is recognised in the country’s constitution. However, Kenya’s system is completely different because it is freehold.”

He further said that in Tanzania, once the government leases land, the lessor isn’t allowed to sub-lease.

“The right to sub-lease is held by the government since all land is public but is held in trust by the president on behalf of the people,” he said. “The government also collects land rent, property tax, withholding tax and stamp duty.”

The Land Act is very clear that a non-Tanzanian is not allowed to own land, save for investment purposes only under the Tanzania Investment Act.

Government Leases

In line with the country’s laws, investors gain access to land through government leases whereby they are issued with a document known as “derivative right” through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC).

The duration of occupation is one year less than the years declared in the certificate of occupancy, which may be 32, 65 and 98 years. The maximum duration given in the certificate of occupancy is 99 years as per the Land Act, 1999.

Communities benefit when the government parcels out land to be used by certain groups or communities for set objectives. This normally happens when the government revokes leaseholds given to investors after they fail to develop the land in question.

In other cases, the government may decide to give land that previously belonged to a government parastatal, to interested groups wanting to undertake economic activities including agriculture.

It has been argued that compared with others, the Tanzanian system is better.

So far, the government has set aside Special Economic Zones for economic and commercial investment. The aim is to promote investment in industry; specifically for industrial products which are meant for export.

Such areas are under the supervision of Export Processing Zone Authority.

A foreign investor is allowed to own land only for investment purposes. Land can be given to an investor in the form of a derivative right which allows investors to lease land for investment purposes for a period of 32 years, 65 and 98 years.

If an investor changes the usage of the land, his lease agreement will be terminated and the certificate of incentive from TIC will be cancelled.

The TIC also has the authority to revoke the derivative right issued to foreign investors if they fail to implement approved projects.


By: Joseph Mwamunyange

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