After over two months abroad, my internship at Ghana Center for Democratic Development
(CDD-Ghana) is drawing to a close, and so it’s a good time to look back and think about the projects I’ve done, and what I’ve learned during my internship.
One of the most valuable parts of this summer has been getting to observe the work of a think-tank from the inside. From the outside, it may be easy to write off think-tanks as a waste, just a bunch of people blowing hot air. In working at CDD-Ghana, however, I’ve seen firsthand the amount of hard work, dedication, patience, and research that goes into being on the cutting-edge of democracy and governance issues, and how important and influential a think-tank can be.
Founded in 1998, CDD-Ghana now has a few dozen staffers, and a branch office is set to open soon in another part of the country. Over the years, it has been involved in exciting, innovative initiatives, designed to promote democracy.
For instance, CDD-Ghana has been a crucial partner in the Afrobarometer
, a project in which citizens from more than a dozen African nations are surveyed for their thoughts about government and other issues. These surveys are valuable in that they reveal on-the-ground perceptions about a range of public policy issues, including political corruption, highlighting institutions that could be the focus of government reform efforts.
During the summer, I had the opportunity to work on several different projects, exposing me a wide variety of legal issues in Ghana and the region. I helped prepare an HIV/AIDS training manual for public service professionals, which is designed to help reduce stigma concerning HIV/AIDs. I critiqued a draft bill concerning NGOs, pointing out weaknesses that should be addressed so as to improve the legal climate for NGOs and foster transparency. Under the draft bill, for instance, the government could require organizations attempting to register as NGOs to submit additional information, without any justification, and the government can reject these applications for registration without providing any reasons.
I’m excited to go home soon, but it’s been an exciting summer. I learned a lot, and I’ll always treasure the experiences I’ve had here in Ghana.