Xinhua sees “great potential in Sino-Africa non-governmental cooperation”

According to a Xinhua report dated 14 October, which has only now been circulated on International Rivers’ mailing list, a “China-Africa NGO seminar” has been organised within the FOCAC framework, to which “20 persons in charge of NGOs and ambassadors from eight African countries and more than ten Chinese NGOs” had been invited. (According to People’s Daily, only diplomats from Ethiopia and Sudan actually attended, but there were officials from NGO councils of Botswana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia.)

The non-governmental communication is expected to be an important part of the Sino-African relations, and contribute to building the strategic partnership between the two sides, said Li Jinjun 李进军 [“Li March-in-the troops”], secretary-general of China NGO network for International Exchanges (CNIE), the organizer of the seminar.

The event confirms the shift towards greater social engagement in China’s African activities (whether cosmetic or substantive) that several authors — such as Chris Alden — have commented on. A number of international NGOs, such as Oxfam, have been banking on the strategy of bringing NGOs from China and the investment recipient countries together with the idea of sharing the latters’ concerns with the former.  The prominent liberal economist Qin Hui has similarly expressed hope that Chinese civil activists might learn from their counterparts in Africa and Southeast Asia, and press Chinese companies to operate more responsibly at home as well as abroad.

This was not quite the idea of the organisers of this seminar, though. On the contrary,

“I found the African NGOs have a strong will to learn from China,” said Jiang Bo, secretary-general of China Education Association for International Exchanges.

His view was echoed by Ntobeko Melvin Gotyana, president of South Africa National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO). (…)

Peter Oloishura Nkuraiyia, executive director of NGO Co-ordination Board of Kenya, said that both Kenya and China are developing countries and China is more developed so that Kenya NGOs would like to learn from China from many aspects, especially on how to regulate the funds and how to seek help from the governments.

A book named Africa NGOs Studies and Sino-African Relations [非洲非政府组织与中非关系] was launched at the seminar. The book was written by experts of Zhejiang Normal University [沈蓓莉  and 刘鸿武, apparently CNIE staff] as a result of a project launched by the Chinese government.

These individuals sound like important people within Africa’s NGO circles. I wonder whether this account does reflect the sentiments of African NGOs, which have so far been largely negative on the Chinese presence (if one is to go by Western reports, that is). I am also very curious about this new publication.

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5 Responses to Xinhua sees “great potential in Sino-Africa non-governmental cooperation”

  1. Fred Olendo says:

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    The NGO Council of Kenya wish to confirm that they were neither invited or attended the above meeting as reported. We wish to request the organisers of the meeting to make this clear.

    With regards,

    Fred Olendo

    Finance and Administration Manager.

    NGO Council House P. O. Box 62389 -00200 Tel; 254(020) 2715259/ 2738288
    Behind Hurlingum Plaza, Nairobi –Kenya Tel/ Fax; 254(020) 2736345
    Argwings Kodhek Road, GSM 0720-707927/ 0733 772580
    Hurlingum- Nairobi Orange Fixed Plus; 020-2458228
    Website; http://www.ngocouncilkenya.org E- mail; admin@ngocouncilkenya.org

    ‘’The National Council of NGOs committed in safeguarding the independence and self-regulation of the NGO Sector as outlined in the NGO Coordination Act of 1990, Code of Conduct and Rules and Regulations’’

  2. Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Olendo. I suppose you have sent this letter to the organisers as well as to the Xinhua New Agency.

    What is the NGO Co-ordination Board of Kenya, then? Is it an organisation of importance in the Kenyan NGO scene?

  3. Fred Olendo says:

    NGOs LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN KENYA

    The NGO Co-ordination Act, 1990 (the Act) provided for the creation of a self-regulatory body for NGOs (the National Council of NGOs) alongside a Government oversight body (the NGOs’ Co-ordination Board). The NGO’s Board was established to oversee the registration, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of NGOs in the country and their role in national development. The NGO Council’s primary objective was to develop a code of conduct for the enforcement of self-regulation in the sector.

    The National Council of NGOs (NGOs Council)

    Overview

    The NGO Council is a self-regulating, non-partisan body comprising all registered NGOs. Registered NGOs pay a prescribed annual fee to the NGO Council. Fully paid up members vote on policies and elect officials during the General Assembly, held annually.

    The Council’s mandate is self-regulation of the NGO sector, capacity building for the sector and policy intervention. As set out in the Act, its functions are to:

     Advise and maintain adherence to a Code of Conduct for NGOs
     Advise and maintain adherence to Regulations to facilitate self regulation on activities of national interest
     Advise and maintain adherence to rules and procedures for audit of the accounts of NGOs
     Support applications by potential members for registration under the Act (subject to agreed criteria)
     Compile reports for the General Assembly for the purpose of recommending a cancellation of a member’s registration certificate to the NGO Board

    The Council operates through the decisions of the General Assembly. The General Assembly elects a Board of Trustees, an Executive Committee and a Regulatory Committee.

    The Board of Trustees comprises 5 members elected every 3 years by the General Assembly. The Chief Executive Officer heads the Secretariat and is an ex-officio member of all the committees and subcommittees of the NGO Council.

    The Executive Committee comprises 15 members elected every 3 years. It is responsible for policy making and for directing all the programmes of the Council. The Executive Committee has four subcommittees. These are the;

    • Networking,
    • Finance & Administration,
    • Rapid Response,
    • Programme Support and
    • Information and Publicity subcommittees.

    The Regulatory Committee comprises 7 members elected every 3 years. It is a quasi-judicial tribunal, established to facilitate self-regulation in the NGO sector. It promotes and maintains adherence to the NGO Code of Conduct and the Rules and Regulations. The Committee also has the power to define and review the criteria for support by the Council on registrations, applications for work permits and tax exemptions.

    Regulatory action

    The Regulatory Committee sits periodically and acts as a tribunal. It can hear complaints, dismiss complaints, issue a warning to an organisation, recommend that a certificate is cancelled or suspended, recommend an organisation takes appropriate action against an employee/member/agent, remove or bar a person from holding office in the Council for 5 years. The Council can summon NGOs and other parties to appear before the Regulatory Committee. There is a small charge for filing a case with the Committee. The Council has published a Guide to the Code of Conduct which covers regulations and procedures for hearings of complaints and outlines powers of its Regulatory Committee.

    The NGOs Co-ordination Board

    Overview

    The NGO Board registers and monitors NGOs. It also has the function of co-ordinating and facilitating the work of NGOs. This involves advising Government on NGOs’ activities and role in development, providing policy guidelines for NGOs for the purpose of harmonising their activities with the National Development Plan for the country.

    The Board’s mission is to provide efficient services in the registration, co-ordination and facilitation of NGOs/CSOs sector in order to support and enhance the role of the sector in the improvement of the welfare of the people of Kenya and beyond.

    As set out in the Act, the functions of the Board are:

     To register, co-ordinate and facilitate the work of all national and international NGOs operating in Kenya
     To maintain a register of national and international NGOs operating in Kenya with their precise sectors, affiliation and locations of their activities
     To receive, discuss, analyse and evaluate the Annual Reports of NGOs
     To advise the Government on the activities of NGOs and on their role in development
     To conduct a regular review of the register, and to determine its consistency with reports submitted by the NGOs and the Council of NGOs
     To provide policy guidelines for NGOs, for harmonising their activities with the National Development Plan for the country so that NGOs avoid activities which contradict national programmes
     To receive, discuss and approve the regular reports of the Council and to advise on strategies for efficient planning and coordination of the activities of NGOs in Kenya
     To receive, discuss and approve the code of conduct prepared by the Council of the self regulations of NGOs and their activities

    The Board is composed of 21 members:

     Chairman – appointed by President
     7 members appointed by the Minister by virtue of their knowledge or experience in development and welfare management
     6 Ministries are represented – Office of the President, the Board’s Parent Ministry, Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Economic Planning and Attorney General
     8 members recommended to the Minister by the National Council of NGOs
     The Executive Director – who is an ex officio member.

    The Board has five committees – for the efficient and effective discharge of functions:

     The Programs and Public Relations Committee (has Work Permits Sub Committee, which processes applications for work permits by expatriates in the NGO sector)
     The Procurements Committee
     The Finance and Administration Committee
     The Resource Mobilisation Committee
     The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Committee

    The Secretariat of the Board

     Headed by the Executive Director, the Secretariat performs the day-to-day functions of the Board.

    Registration

    The Act defines an NGO as “a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations, not operated for profit or for other commercial purposes but which have organised themselves nationally or internationally for the benefit of the public at large and for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity or research in the areas inclusive of, but not restricted to, health, relief, agriculture, education, industry and the supply of amenities and services”.

    It is a legal requirement for NGOs which operate in Kenya (both local and international) to register with the NGO’s Board . Failure to register carries a fine up to 50,000 Kenyan Shillings or 18 months imprisonment or both. The Board has registered 6,000 NGOs since its inception in 1992.

    Applications for registration of an organisation as an NGO are checked by staff of the NGO’s Board, the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS), the Programmes and Publications Committee of the Board and personally by the Chair of the Board. Organisations which are registered as NGOs receive a certificate from the NGO’s Board. Applicants can appeal if the NGO’s Board decides that their organisation is not eligible for registration. They appeal to the Minister responsible for NGOs (currently the Minister of State for National Heritage) and ultimately to the High Court.

    Not for profit organisations in Kenya, which (unlike NGOs) are not restricted to public benefit purposes, register under the Societies Act and the Companies Act. Others are registered as Trusts and Foundations. Community Based Organisations (CBOs) are administratively registered with the Provincial Administration or the Department of Culture and Social Services.

    Monitoring and evaluation

    NGOs are required to declare bank account details in their Annual Reports and to report any changes in address or changes in officers to the NGO’s Board. NGOs must also submit an Annual Return to the Board within 90 days after the expiry of their financial year.

    Regulatory action

    Concerns about NGOs (arising from monitoring of Annual Reports, reports from the NGO Council’s Regulatory Committee or from an external source) are investigated by the Programmes Department. A Regulatory Committee (comprising members of the NGO’s Board) meets periodically to assess cases and recommend a course of action to the whole Board, which can then decide to dismiss the complaint, admonish the organisation, fine it, or suspend or cancel its registration certificate.

    In carrying out its mandate, the NGO’s Board works closely with the National Council of NGOs.

  4. Thank you. In other words, the Coordination Board is government body while the Council is composed by the NGOs themselves.

  5. Fred Olendo says:

    Thank you, you have captured it well. Therefore you need to deal with the Council when you want inputs from NGOs in Kenya.

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