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Over the last 15 years, 12 African countries have adopted legislation or policies that improperly constrained nongovernmental organizations (NGOs): Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Tunisia, Algeria, South Sudan, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Burundi, and Tanzania. Six countries — Rwanda, Zambia, Sudan, Malawi, Egypt, and Mozambique — have anti-NGO measures pending or may be moving to introduce them, while six — Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, and Zimbabwe—have introduced such measures only to have them abandoned by the executive, rejected by the legislature, or invalidated by the courts. These laws and policies seek to impose state control over civil society, particularly NGOs that work on human rights and governance issues.

This report describes and analyses the approaches that African governments are taking to impose restrictions that handicap NGO activity on the continent. In particular, it examines anti-NGO framework legislation, of which Ethiopia’s 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP)—recently replaced—is a progenitor. The report also assesses other, auxiliary legal instruments by which states are seeking to achieve the same goals; such instruments may be ostensibly related to counterterrorism, controls on money laundering, or cybersecurity.

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