The Burundian think tank Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDE) has won the 2020 Africa Liberty Award for their ProLibertyWriters Project.
In Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), few free-market publications are widely available. Starting in 2018, CDE launched the ProLibertyWriters Project, which was designed by CDE to focus media attention on issues that will help countries in the Great Lakes region boost their scores on the World Bank’s Doing Business index. The CDE team commissioned local and international journalism and marketing experts, including Dr. Emmanuel Martin; Bill Witz of Consumer Choice Center; and Burundian, Congolese, and Rwandan journalists and bloggers who offered intensive training sessions to help writers raise public awareness about the positive impact of free enterprise and the rule of law.
Writers associated with the project publish between four and six articles every week and have produced more than 840 articles in 2019, reaching 87,000 people in Burundi, Rwanda, and DRC. Since the project was launched in 2018, many liberal reforms have been set in motion. In 2019, when the DRC’s government decided to cut off public internet access, an article by a ProLibertyWriter made the case for continued access. A few days later, after CDE and other stakeholders engaged policymakers about the issue, the internet was restored. Also in 2019, a CDE writer showed how the financial inclusion of women entrepreneurs would be an asset for their empowerment and a step toward equality. Six months later, at the Conference of Women Leaders in Bujumbura, the government of Burundi revealed its plan to create a bank specifically for women.
CDE Great Lakes plans to continue the ProLibertyWriters project for the foreseeable future and give a voice to liberal ideas in their region.