5 Tips on how to register an NGO in East Africa
Registration of an NGO in East Africa is a crucial step to offering legal support for their services. Not following proper channels causes hitches; especially in operations such as outsourcing funds. NGOs vary depending on the country but majorly include volunteer organizations, people’s organizations, nonprofit organizations, community organizations, etc.
The United Nations Statistics Division data indicates that the African Continent is subdivided into five regions: Northern Africa, Central or Middle Africa, Western Africa, Southern Africa, and East Africa.
East Africa consists of 19 countries. Although of the 19, 6 partner states have combined to form the East African Community (EAC). The states include Kenya, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, the Republic of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. With a total gross domestic product of US $193 and a home for 177 million citizens, the EAC is a favorable location to establish an NGO. Here are tips to consider when registering an NGO in some countries in East Africa.
1. Registering an NGO in Kenya
Registration of NGOs in Kenya is mandatory according to the NGO Coordination Act (1990). Therefore, you should have the following in mind when registering an NGO in Kenya:
In Kenya, an NGO is any closed voluntary organization of persons or unions that is not run for commercial purposes or profit. The group may be organized nationally or internationally and should operate to benefit the public.
An NGO may benefit the public either through charity, development, social welfare, or research. These research areas range from the supply of amenities and services to agriculture, education, health, and relief.
NGO Regulator in Kenya
The body in charge of qualifying the NGO sector in Kenya is The Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board.
This Board, formed by the Non-governmental organizations’ Co-ordinations Act (Cap 19) of 1990, is responsible for the following.
- Registration of NGOs in Kenya
- It assists in the coordination and facilitation of every national and international NGO operating in Kenya.
- Guide the government on the contribution of NGOs to national development.
- Provide policies that ensure NGOs align their operations with the leading national concerns.
- Receive and analyze NGO’s annual reports.
Like the private companies must register in Uganda with URSB, all NGOs in Uganda must register with the National Board (NGO Bureau). Therefore, have the following in mind if you plan to register an NGO in Uganda.
An NGO in Uganda can be classified into these three categories, but each has different procedures.
- An NGO can be an isolated, voluntary, charitable group of people or associations formed to offer voluntary services to the community. It is a legally constituted non-governmental organization. These entities must not be for profit or commercial purposes.
- An NGO can be a trust or foundation that provides grants or loans to private or community organizations. In this case, the foundations will be registered under the Companies Act of 2012. The difference with the first is that a foundation is not exempt from paying tax.
- An NGO can be classified according to where it is incorporated. In this case, the founding members’ locations play a huge role, and they can either be incorporated in Uganda or elsewhere. Subjectively, foreign NGOs have a more difficult registration process.
Moreover, according to section 44(g), all NGOs must be non-partisan. They may not do anything detrimental to the welfare of Uganda or its citizens.
NGO Regulator in Uganda
The NGO Bureau is the body responsible for registering NGOs in Uganda, which is mandatory. As of the 2016 act, the NGO Bureau has broad and discretionary powers that include.
- Registering NGOs in Uganda and the Bureau can refuse to register or give permits to an NGO.
- It can revoke or block an NGO’s permit.
Apart from the burdensome registration procedures, it is vital to note that the Bureau does not have a time limit for reviewing applications. As a foreign NGO, you should have letters from your respective embassy, the Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recommendations from the relevant bureaus, and the NGOD Monitoring committee where you will operate.
The introduction of the Civil Societies Proclamation passed on March 12, 2019, is less restrictive for NGOs than the 2009 legislation. This legislation allows NGOs more activities, including funding from abroad. Here is what you should have in mind when registering an NGO in Ethiopia.
NGO’s fall under three categories depending on the nationality of their staff and the source of their funding.
- The first type is Ethiopian charities and societies. They are NGOs with local members as managers and must outsource most of their budget within the country.
- The second category is Ethiopian resident charities and societies. They are NGOs with members who reside within the country, but many of their budgets are foreign-sourced.
- The third kind is foreign charities and societies. They include NGOs created under external legislation with international staff in most positions and who receive most of their budget money from overseas.
Notably, the restrictions on foreign and foreign-funded charity work seem less stringent in the 2019 legislation.
NGO Regulator in Ethiopia
While registration of NGOs in Ethiopia is mandatory, it is regulated by the Civil Society Organization Agency (CSA). The CSA conducts the function of registering NGOs and can refuse registration if aims and activities are contrary to public morals.
If your NGO application is rejected and you disagree, you can appeal to the Societies Organizations Board within 30 days.
The NGO laws in Rwanda were first enacted in 2008 and were revised in 2012. As a result, Rwanda has the most stringent and involved procedure when registering an NGO compared to the other four countries discussed. Here is information you might find helpful if you are planning to register an NGO in Rwanda.
According to the 2012 legislation, an NGO comprises persons or autonomous collective voluntary organizations to improve social and cultural development.
On the other hand, an international non-governmental organization (INGO) is any entity established by persons as per foreign laws whose objective is related to the public interest.
NGO Regulator in Rwanda
The Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) is the body responsible for regulating NGOs in Rwanda. When registering, you will first get a temporary certificate for 12 months, after which you can apply for legal personality.
Nonetheless, RGB is responsible for.
- Registering of NGOs and can reduce or deregister an NGO.
- Decide on whether an INGO can be registered or not.
- Monitor service delivery and governance of NGOs and INGOs.
NGOs in Rwanda must submit specific reporting information, including cost estimates and updated planning to the authorities each year.
Recently, the Non-Governmental Act Regulations of 2018 and the written laws of 2019 have significantly amended Tanzania’s laws. Below are some tips to know if you are planning to register an NGO in Tanzania.
An NGO is any voluntary grouping of individuals or organizations that are autonomous, non-profit making, and non-partisan according to the 2012 Non-governmental Organizations Act. It can be a Non-Governmental Organization established with the help of a trade union, sports club, religious organization, political party, or community-based organization.
The act further states that an NGO is organized locally at grassroots, national, or international levels. Its purpose should be to enhance economic, environmental, social culture, protect the environment, and advocate on the issues of the public.
NGO Regulator in Tanzania
The body responsible for registering and regulating NGOs in Tanzania is The NGO Registrar’s Office. This body does not operate autonomously and reports to an NGO Board that comprises five members. Four of the members in the body are nominated by NGOs, while the president nominates one. The NGOs registrar’s body can register an NGO but don’t have the power to deregister one. The Board is the one that can deregister or suspend an NGO.
In all the five countries discussed, you need to register your group as an NGO in East Africa with the responsible local authority to be fully operational. With a registered NGO, you will have legal status in your field of operation and interact on an official level with other stakeholders.
You can obtain guidance and help from authorized companies on the process of registering your NGO in East Africa.
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