The 1990s have seen increased interest on the part of Western governments in funding civil society in Africa in an attempt to promote the continent’s democratisation process. This discussion paper examines how a range of foreign donors has developed civil society initiatives in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. All three countries form part of the new generation of African states that are seen as turning their back on decades of authoritarian rule, instead
embracing open government and open economies in productive ‘partnerships’ with the West. After defining what donors mean by ‘civil society’, this discussion paper is divided into two main sections.
The first section identifies who the major foreign donors to civil society are in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. It examines the relative
importance and differences in approach of the United States, Germany, the World Bank and the Like-minded Group of donors (the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and Canada). The second major section discusses the broad objectives of donors in African countries. The study found that civil society organisations committed to the promotion of liberal democracy and economic liberalism are the most popular with donors. The paper concludes that although assistance to civil society is relatively small, and is directed at a very particular section of civil society, in each of these societies it funds some of the key actors involved in influencing economic policy and defining the
content of democracy.