Ghana NGO Sector

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As early as Ghana's pre-colonial era, civil society has shaped, and been shaped by, the country’s political developments. After independence in 1957, the government created economic and social reconstruction development plans. This included putting local development committees and the emerging nonprofit sector in charge of providing education, health and social services to the country’s citizens. During the period of political and economic instability that followed independence, citizens were dependent on humanitarian aid and emergency services provided by churches and charities (Atingdui 1995:11-12).

By the early 1980s, the country’s subsequent reorganization of the public and private sectors directly affected religious and church-related organizations, requiring them to reapply for registration with the government (Atingdui 1995:12). Despite the government’s move to exert more control over NGOs, local groups continued to grow and expand unabated. A sharp increase in international development assistance to Ghana occurred between 1989 and 1990, with a significant amount of funds going to the nonprofit sector (World Bank, World Tables). The 1990s saw an exponential growth in the non-profit sector and non-governmental organizations in Ghana, in both the number of groups and their range of activities. By the mid 1990s, the number of registered nonprofit organizations grew to over 700 (Atingdui 1995:15).

Today, the sector encompasses thousands of organizations of all sizes and types. Nonprofit organizations in Ghana are defined as “civil society organizations that are formed independently of the State but register voluntarily under specified laws in order to gain official recognition to pursue purposes that are not self-serving but oriented towards public benefit.” (NGC National Draft Policy). As Ghana moves into the 21st century, civil society in the country is a sector that is still growing and defining itself.

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