Private Philanthropy

Country Reports: Sub-Saharan Africa

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 1, Issue 3, March 1999


On March 30, 1999, the Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Ngole Philip, held a meeting to discuss new draft legislation for NGOs. The meeting was attended by representatives of the NGO community, including associations of the legal profession, lawyers, representatives of various ministries (Finance, Territorial Administration, and Social Affairs), as well as a representative of the World Bank’s resident mission in Yaounde, Mr. George Minang.

The proposed legislation differs from the draft presented previously and discussed in the September issue of IJNL. Instead of making extensive changes in the current Law on Freedom of Association (Law No. 90/053 of December 19, 1990), this new proposal makes only minor conforming revisions. However, an altogether new law is proposed as well, which will regulate associations that meet the definition of NGO found in what is presently Article 3 of the draft. The basic framework of the new legislation permits associations that have been declared in accordance with the 1990 legislation to register as NGOs and become “associations subject to an agreement.” If they are registered in accordance with the new legislation, they will be able to gain access to certain government subventions and other fiscal privileges.

The proposed law requires associations to register in order to receive the benefits allowed to NGOs, but they are only permitted to do so after they have been operating for three years in a field of public service activity. The fields of public service activity include economic, social , cultural, health, sport, and humanitarian activities. The law proposes that an oversight commission be established for NGOs, but the composition of the commission has yet to be determined.

ICNL is presently working with the Bank’s Resident Mission and Washington-based staff to provide detailed comments on the draft bill. Once those comments are prepared they will be available from ICNL. For further information on the legislation please contact George Minang,


A report on the current self-regulation initiative can be found in the self-regulation section of this journal!


In March 1995 Ghana introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) but suspended its implementation some 3 months later because of inflationary expectations and administrative difficulties. The tax has now been reintroduced with effect from 18 March 1998, although collection of the tax did not start until 30 December 1998. VAT is levied on all supplies of goods and services in, and imports of goods and services into Ghana. However, the relatively high registration threshold of supplies exceeding GHC 200 million (USD $80,000) per year means that most NGOs will not be required to register. The standard rate of tax is 10% but there are a limited number of exemptions intended to reduce the burden of the tax on low-income persons, including the supply of water (unless bottled or distilled), education and health services approved by the relevant ministries, and public transport. (Value Added Tax Act 1998, Act 546 gazetted 18 March 1998)

South Africa

SANGOCO’s review of the recent Katz Commission Report (501 KB )is available in the Articles section of this issue!