One of the main goals I had in going to Ghana was to make the organization official in Ghana. We already had our 501(c)3 but were not registered in Ghana at all. In case you were wondering what is involved in the process, I will tell you what I did this summer.
1. Find an auditor.
2. Go to the Register General's Office. Buy a form, make 4 copies, pay your registration fee, give a letter from your auditor. Wait several months, unless you have a connection, in which case, wait two weeks or so and get your certificate!
3. Go to the Social Welfare Office. Bring a slew of documents including (but not a comprehensive list) your registration certificate, articles of incorporation, the Social Welfare application form, 501(c)3 copy (if affiliated with US nonprofit), letter from an auditor, and a memorandum of understanding between your nonprofit and the government of Ghana. We were also asked to bring letters from the Ministry of Education. Wait another few weeks, pay your fee (why is it that nonprofits have to pay exorbitant fees to the government when they are in fact stepping in and saving the government money by doing things the government is failing to do?), and receive your Social Welfare Registration.
4. Once you have your Social Welfare registration, you are free to begin applying for tax exemptions. In Ghana, these are not given unless the organization is either education or health related. Solomon and I have had quite the headache trying to convince the government that this is an educational venture. However, since we are not directly importing books or other clearly educational goods, we have been fighting tooth and nail for our import duty exemptions. The Ministry of Finance tells us there is no way for us to prove the lights are going to children and not being sold. This step is by far the hardest because you have to apply through the Ministry of Finance, who then sends you to Customs and the VAT (value added tax) for consideration, who then sends it back for approval. We are still fighting for this one.
5. Hire yourself a country director. We were very lucky to have a very good candidate fall right in front of us. To do this, you need to register your country director officially with the organization, and go to the SSNIT (Social Security Office) to fill out another form. Careful when setting the employee's base salary... the organization is required to pay 12% to SSNIT and the employee 5%.
I probably missed a few steps, because this was an extremely long and drawn out process, but since it happened within the three months I was there even with all the other things we were doing, I'd say it's relatively easy in Ghana. It is not very hard to obtain the status, but it does take some waiting time.