Association Growth In Sub-Saharan Africa

Posted by TMG on April 17, 2013 3:38:00 AM

I just returned from my annual trip to Kenya visiting friends and family in Nairobi and Nakuru. It was a fascinating time to be in the country with the Presidential election petition being presented and heard by the Kenyan Supreme Court (complete with references to the 2000 Bush/Gore Florida challenge in the US Supreme Court). The country was glued to the TV or gathered around radios on mopeds to hear the lawyers for both sides presenting their case.
The process has been a victory for the Kenyan democracy, transparency, the rule of law, and the new constitution. Just after our return power was transferred peacefully to the new President, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first President. The role of civil society was a part of the dialogue especially as one of the parties presenting the petition challenge was a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
Along the way I met with a young association professional working in Nairobi who relatively recently discovered that in fact, what he does every day is a recognized profession in the West. He was excited to learn that there are best practices for every facet of not for profit management that can be taught and practiced to enhance their effectiveness. He is looking to link up with professionals in South Africa to grow and professionalize the practice of association/society management.
The tremendous growth in Africa, projected to be 5-7% per year for the next three years, is enlarging the middle class and creating new opportunities in the formation of civil society organizations. It’s an exciting time to be in Africa to see the potential, especially when coupled with serious governmental reform as represented by the transition under way with the new Kenyan Constitution.
ASAE’s international outreach is focused on China and South Korea, where their research shows the most fertile ground for not for profit growth and professionalization. I think there is potential for “leapfrog” growth in our sector in Africa and look forward to working with the professionals there to make it happen.

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