Do NGOs have a major role to play in the development of Africa?

Over the past two decades, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have become major actors in solving various issues and have continued to grow rapidly in Africa and around the world.

In South Africa alone, there are more than 100,000 registered non-profit organisations, in Nigeria over 50,000 and in Kenya, the number of NGOs grew by over 400 percent between 1997 and 2006. 

In Africa, these NGOs have played major roles in providing health care, education and improving the lives of people. But this has been criticised by some people who say that they are not the most suitable people to improve the lives of people. They have been criticised of focusing on poverty rather than dealing with the issues that cause poverty. Critics have also said that the NGOs focused on the interest of their donors rather than the imminent need of those that they represent.

However, Moky Makura, Deputy Director, Communications, Africa Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who spoke at the Global Africa Forum on Communications (GAFCOMM) is of the opinion that “African governments are not there yet and nobody wants to keep funding Africa. We want to see it develop. So as the country graduates, we pulling in the next one and it continues that way.”

Despite all these critisims, it is worthy to note that the NGOs are also doing their best in ensuring that they achieve desired results before leaving the benefiting community. The NGOs cannot do their work effectively and efficiently if they don’t work with the government because the governments are the gateway to the people.

NGOs need to work with the government because it is the idea of working together rather than working separately that will help both parties go further in achieving the desired result, according to Sean Kerrigan, National Director, World Vision, Rwanda who was one of the panelists at GAFCOMM.

However, the masses need to know about the benefit of free health and free education because it would get to a point when the funds of the NGOs will get low and they might not be able to support the government again. In knowing the benefits of the services provided by the NGOs such as education which enables them to read, write and learn new skills, the people can now know that they have the ability to achieve a lot and be better than what they were.

It is also worthy to note that the problems that the NGOs are solving in Africa are as a result of the failure of governance in Africa. This is because if we have good governance, a lot of these problems will be resolved. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if NGOs influence the evolution of good governance in the Continent.