Informations about National Regulations and Regional and International Initiatives.


                               Key Information

Ethiopia is not a participant to the Montreux Document

Key Information

Sector Size (2015)

  • Approx. 100 PSCs
  • 100,000 PSC Personnel

Can PSC personnel carry firearms?

* No

* No Legal base

International Code of Conduct

Association (ICoCA)

ICoCA Member State: No

ICoCA Company Members: 0

ICoCA CSO Members: 0

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Voluntary Principles State Member: No

Voluntary Principles Company Members: 0

Voluntary Principles NGO Members: 0



The development of the private security sector is relatively recent in Ethiopia. The changing of government in early the 1990’s was marked by a high number of demobilized soldiers and high rates of unemployment due to an unstable socio-political situation: this period was then followed in 2005 by a national economic growth and a wave of privatization in the country. This led to the entry of PSCs into the market: the demand for private security services then continued growing, due an increase in development and international actors in the country. There are already close to one hundred companies in operation (2010).[1]

In the face of an increasing economic boom and the growing trend of outsourcing of security provision to private actors, the Ethiopian private security sector is fast growing and has become a multi-million-birr industry. Some of the big companies have an annual cash flow of 40 to 50 million birr (USD 1.8 million- 2.3 million) each.

In addition, Ethiopia is facing rising security threats for last 3 years. There were increased assassinations, robbery, destruction and vandalization of properties. Furthermore, arms trafficking and possession of illegal weapons are widespread. Government is unable to provide protection or prevent these security threats. Thus, there is a high demand for private security for the protection persons and properties in Ethiopia.

Legal and regulatory framework

There is currently no law in Ethiopia that specifically regulates PMSCs. The Ethiopian Trade proclamation No. 020/2/6056/2008 is used to register PSCs as any ordinary business entity. However, as per Federal Negarit Gazeta proclamation No. 720/2011 Article 28 the Federal Police can issue certificates of competence to private institutions wishing to engage in providing security service. The request to getting a license has to be submitted to the Federal Police Professional Counseling and Arms License Division together with a form prepared to this effect. Once the Federal Police issues the certificate of competence and Minister of Trade would register the PSC as business entity. Licenses of the PSCs, like those of any other business organizations, should be renewed every two years by written application to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. However, many companies continue to work without a license, a problem that is recognized by those that are legitimate.

Monitoring and Review

In Ethiopia there are at present no restrictions on the formation of PSCs and there are no stated pre-conditions or requirements for their foundation. One of the most alarming aspects of Ethiopian security companies is that although they are increasing in number, they are completely unregulated. Currently there is no regulation or policy framework relating to the legal and procedural operations of PSCs. There appears to be little or almost no monitoring standards in the sector.

Firearms Act and PSCs

Pres­ently security guards are not empowered by law to carry guns while on duty. Instead, they carry sticks (dulla). The trend is that clients such as business, humanitarian, diplomatic or international organizations usually have the right to have their internal security provider carry a registered gun for the purpose of self-defense.[2] Using this leverage, they sign a special agreement with the security companies whereby their guards could use the firearms with the pur­pose of protecting the clients. Indirectly some of the private security companies end up carrying a firearm.


A discussion with stakeholders and experts on the industry has identified the following challenges:[3]

  • The absence of a specific regulatory regime;
  • Lack of professionalization and little application of international good practices;
  • Little or no training for personnel;
  • Non-existent or little working relationship amongst the different PSCs with the Federal Police (little sharing of information); and
  • The absence of firearms license legislation.
  • The qualification to join the sector as a guard includes completion of eighth grade or above for women and sixth grade or above for men.
  • With regards to the working conditions of the security guards, they are deployed according to a shift system; after 24 hours of service, a guard is off duty for the following 48 hours. However, guards suffer from a lack of proper logistics such as uniforms, raincoat, torches, shoes and reflective night uniforms.

[1] Solomon Hassen ‘An Anthology of Peace and Security Research: The Status of Private Security Companies in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa’, (November 2010), <> accesed 10.9.2020.

[2] Proclamation No.1177/2020 Firearm Administration and Control Proclamation.

[3] The Montreux Document: Report of the Ethiopia Regional Conference on Private Military and Security Companies, (November 2015), accessed 8.9.2020.