ADDIS ABABA- The Ethiopian parliament is widely expected to approve a new bill in coming months that would pave the way for increased foreign ownership of its banking sector, allowing international players to take a more significant stake in Africa’s second-most populous country.

Once approved, the National Bank of Ethiopia would raise the maximum permitted direct stake in a local bank to 40% — from 30% — for “strategic” foreign investors, such as large global banks, and an aggregated foreign ownership capped at 49%.

But it’s unclear if there is a strong appetite for these investments at this time.

When the Ethiopian government tried to partially privatize Ethio Telecom earlier this month, the interest from international investors was lukewarm. The firm should have been an attractive investment: The former mobile monopoly has more than 64 million users and more than 40 million mobile money users, making it one of the largest mobile operators on the continent.

Investors have been deterred by everything from ongoing regional conflicts in different parts of the country to a chronic shortage of foreign currency, say local analysts.

That reality has forced the government to sell up to 10% of the shares in the highly profitable Ethio Telecom to locals, in a desperate bid to generate revenue. It hopes the liberalization of its banking sector will have a different outcome.