WACSI Convenes Key Civil Society Actors in Ghana to Assess the Legal Environment for CSOs in the Country

WACSI Convenes Key Civil Society Actors in Ghana to Assess the Legal Environment for CSOs in the Country

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An enabling environment is key for civil society sustainability. However, across the globe, there have been growing concerns of threats to civil society sustainability due to the dearth of or non-compliance of laws that ensure an open, functional and civic space. For instance, in Ghana, the proposed non-governmental organisation Bill (NGO Bill) has raised a lot of concerns among civil society in the country. The Bill, which is set to be passed by July 2020, was drafted with little consultation and input of the Ghanaian civil society and many fear that it may further restrict Ghana’s civic space, curtail donor-funding and create a less than favourable environment for civil society to thrive.

It is against this backdrop and in line with its 2018-2022 strategic plan that the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with African Philanthropy Network (APN), commissioned research to rapidly assess the existing legal environment for civil society organisations (CSOs) and philanthropy in Ghana. This research, which was conducted by Mr Edem Senanu, an expert management and development consultant, sought to examine and review relevant Ghanaian laws and policies that aim to regulate CSOs and philanthropy, find out its efficiencies, weaknesses and gaps that have necessitated a new bill for NGOs in the country.

Following this research, WACSI organised a-day workshop to validate the research findings and collate inputs from broad stakeholders to further enhance the assessment report. The workshop, which held on 27 February 2020, saw a gathering of more than 40 participants representing different CSOs including NGOs, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) platforms, networks and the media. This rich mix of civil society stakeholders brought to bear the extensive and diverse experience of Ghana’s legal environment and how it directly affects civil society sustainability and philanthropy operations.

The highlight of the workshop included the presentation of the assessment findings by the lead researcher, Mr Edem Senanu. According to him, the approaches adopted during the assessment included desktop research, literature review of several national and international legal documents; interviewing of key informants, few focus group discussions, among others. His presentation also revealed that civil society sustainability was heavily reliant on the legal framework for CSOs in the country. “It is clear that our ability to access funds whether local or international have a lot to do with the legal framework that exists”.

Mr Senanu emphasised.  He submitted that Ghana is yet to pass a bill to regulate civil society as a sector, though the country is a signatory to international treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). Thus, indicating that the lack of a national law regulating CSOs does not necessarily indicate the lack of a legal environment for CSOs.

In addition, the report declared that the Ghanaian civic space is not closed but rather repressed due to lack of enabling environment for civil society to thrive, which has over the years been fuelled by cumbersome and expensive registration processes; a lack of a favourable legal framework, a lack of a national, legally-recognised CSO and philanthropy platform for self-regulation; among others. Therefore, an introduction of a new Bill to regulate the operations of the sector without the input of stakeholders is a move that could only further repress Ghana’s civic space.

Participants of the workshop expressed satisfaction with this initiative. They particularly appreciated the fact that the assessment filled gaps on relevant data on the legal framework and highlighted the contemporary challenges confronting the sector. The stakeholders gave feedback on relevant areas to improve in order to finalise the report. One major point discussed during the validation exercise is the glaring scarcity of documented data on philanthropy operations and impact in Ghana.

This according to Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, Executive Director, WACSI, could be because, “a majority of CSOs and philanthropic organisations operate in an uncoordinated manner, due to the lack of an umbrella body, as well as unhealthy competition within the sector”. The participants echoed the urgent need for Ghana’s civil society to work on consolidating its efforts to increase impact in the lives of Ghanaians; in order to have the confidence to leverage on the power of the people when engaging government for a more progressive, effective and enabling environment to thrive.

Closing the workshop, Dr Stigmata Tenga, Executive Director of APN, noted that repressive laws in civil society is a trend across the African continent, and pledged APN’s dedication to advocating for civil society and philanthropy in Africa.

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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.