In spite of the crucial role played by CSOs and philanthropy, and the fact that freedom of association, expression and assembly, as recognised in international and regional treaties, provide a legal basis for the protection of CSOs including philanthropic organisations, many African states have failed to protect these rights adequately and often do not provide an enabling environment for CSOs. There is therefore a need to raise awareness on the need for relevant and appropriate legislation to promote, protect or fulfil such fundamental rights for civil society organisations and philanthropy. CIVICUS reported in 2015 that “Increasingly, funding support to African CSOs is dwindling, with African CSOs having to cut their budgets and let staff go”. Furthermore, the African Philanthropic Network (APN), adds that although the practice of philanthropy – the desire to promote the welfare of others or private initiatives for the public good – is alive and active in Africa, there is a “lack of an enabling policy environment including a lack of clear tax or other incentives for more strategic and structured philanthropy” (African Grantmakers Network, 2013).
Although Africans are willing to donate for good causes, CSOs and philanthropic institutions in many African countries face serious barriers that limit them from accessing or providing such resources. This could be due to the lack of a favourable legal architecture or enabling environment which affects not just philanthropy but the activities of African civil society organisations (CSOs) in general. This is happening even though local funding is clearly an indispensable factor for a resilient civil society and for sustainable development in Africa. Evidently, a strong legal framework crafted amongst others to help facilitate the flow of local resources from the private sector, interested groups and individuals, as well as governments etc., to African CSOs, would make a difference.
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