Uganda: Quick Guide To Establishing And Operating A Foreign Not For Profit Organisation (NGO) In Uganda

Last Updated: 11 October 2016
Article by Daniel Angualia

Regulation of Not for Profit Organisations in Uganda

Not for profit Organisations commonly referred to Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Uganda are regulated by the Non Governmental Organizations Act 2016. The Act was signed into law the President on 30th January 2016. S. 56(1) of the Act repealed and replaced the Non Governmental Organizations Act Cap 113. The Non Governmental Organizations Regulations SI NO 19/2009 is still applicable law in Uganda. The new law brought in stringent regulation of Not for profit Organisations in Uganda. The body responsible for regulating the activities of not for profit Organisations is now called National Bureau for Non Governmental Organisations. It replaced the Non Governmental Organisations Board under the old law.

Section 57 of the 2016 Act vested all rights and obligations of the Board into the Bureau, (including property, assets, money on board account, contracts, agreements, undertakings, securities, any proceedings etc) and former employees of the board continued in office as employees of the bureau on similar terms and conditions. This bureau is established as body corporate with perpetual succession, common seal, power to sue and to be sued, purchase and hold property, enter into contracts and to do all lawful things a corporate body is capable of doing. The Bureau will have branch offices at every district.

Self regulatory of Not for Profit Organisations

The 2016 Act allows NGOs to form a self regulatory body for purposes of exercising regulatory authority over them. Two or more organizations may come together and form a self regulatory body which must be registered with the Bureau. The organizations must agree that the body will regulate them and that they will abide by a set code of conduct, rules and procedures.

Registration with the Bureau is by way of application accompanied by a resolution of each of the organizations forming part of the body stating its willingness to be part of the self regulatory body and a code of conduct of the body. The code of conduct is adopted by a special meeting of the body. The body also has the liberty to adopt its own structure, rules, procedure for efficient administration. The body may also adopt self regulatory mechanisms that include rules, standards to govern the organizations.

Requirements for registration of foreign Not for profit Organisations in Uganda

The 2016 Act put in place many requirements for registration of a foreign not for profit organisations. The requirements include;

  1. Fill Application form A and accompany it with an application letter addressed to the Secretary NGO Board (which should clearly state the geographical area of operation, field of operation/ activity). The availability of the intended name of the foreign not for profit organisation must have been confirmed and reserved with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)
  2. Recommendations from; District NGO Monitoring Committee, Two sureties (Prominent people or other operational organisations), The Line Ministry (Under which the objectives fall of the organisation fall).
  3. Work plan (For first year of operation), Itemized Budget (For First year of Operation), An organizational chart
  4. Memorandum of Understanding between the organisation and their donors (If any) and Memorandum of Understanding between the organization and the Line Ministry in Uganda.
  5. Certificate of Good Conduct/ No Criminal Record of the promoters from the Police in their country, Photocopies of immigration status of the promoters and certified copies of academic documents and evidence of work experience of volunteers coming to work in Uganda.
  6. A certified copy of the constitution of the organisation which should have been certified by the home office or a notary Public from the country of origin and two Copies of the Constitution drafted for use in Uganda.

Where the organization fulfils these requirements, the Bureau is mandated to issue it a certificate of registration and a permit. The foreign not for profit organisation may need to engage the services of an attorney knowledgeable in the area to facilitate with the registration of not for profit organisation. The Bureau is keen on the quality and compliance standards that the documents must meet.

Employment of non citizens by a foreign not for profit Organisation in Uganda

The law requires every organization to; Submit to the Bureau a chart showing its organizational structure at the time of applying for registration. The structure should among others indicate; its foreign staff requirements and the period for replacement of foreign staff with qualified Ugandans. Comply with Ugandan employment and labour laws.

A foreign not for profit Organisation shall not employ a non citizen unless that person has been cleared by the Government of Uganda. The process of clearance requires the organization to forward to the Uganda government through the Ugandan Diplomatic Mission in that country the following for consideration of their suitability to work in Uganda; Certified details of his or her certificates,
credentials, recommendations, proven work experience, Certificate of criminal clearance. The documents must be notarized. A foreign not for profit organisation shall not practice salary discrimination between Ugandans and non nationals.

Special obligations of not for profit Organisations in Uganda

Section 44 of the new law outlines the special obligations of not for profit organisations and they include;-  They shall not;  Carry out activities in any part of the country unless it has received the approval of the District Committee and Local Government of that area and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Local Government to that effect.  Extend its operations to any new areas beyond the area it is permitted to operate unless it has received a recommendation from the Bureau through the District monitoring committee. The Organisation shall co-operate with local councils in its area and the relevant monitoring committees.

The Organisation shall restrict its operations to the area in which it is permitted to operate under the permit. Shall be non partisan and shall not engage in fundraising or campaigning to support of oppose any political party or support or propose to register a candidate for a political office.

The Organisation shall have a memorandum of understanding with its donors, sponsors, affiliates, local or foreign partners specifying the terms and conditions of ownership, employment, resource mobilization for the organization.

Annual returns to be filed by not for profit Organisations

The Organisation shall keep accounting records of its income, expenditure, assets and liabilities. It shall also draw up a financial statement within 6 months of the close of every financial year.

The Organisation is required to submit a report to the Bureau on its compliance with accepted standard of accounting practice and how they were applied in preparing the statement. Submit annual returns and a report of the audited books of accounts by a certified auditor. Declare and submit to the District Technical planning committee, the monitoring committees of the Districts in which it operates its estimates of income and expenditure, budget, work plan, information on funds received and the source of such funds.

Renewal of operation permits

An organization is required to apply for renewal of its permit within 6 months before the expiry of the same. The Bureau may renew the same upon being satisfied that the organization has complied with the requirements (conditions and directions) in the previous permit. It is also an offence for an NGO to operate without a valid permit under section 32 (6) of the Act. The law provides that where an NGO's permit expires and such NGO continues to operate without renewing the same, it is an offence that attracts pecuniary sanctions of a fine.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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