At each of Atlas Network’s Regional Liberty Forums, three contestants take the stage during the Think Tank Shark Tank competition to pitch their Atlas Network-supported project to a panel of judges for the chance to win additional funding for that initiative. At the 2022 Africa Liberty Forum, Nyandire Reinhard Bonke (African Wildlife Economy Institute, South Africa), Leonard Ogunweide (Face of Liberty International, Nigeria), and Evans Exaud (Liberty Sparks, Tanzania) presented their innovative plans to increase freedom and prosperity on the continent. Evans Exaud emerged the winner of this year’s Africa Think Tank Shark Tank for his plan to encourage trade regulation reform in Tanzania, and he will take home the US$5,000 prize.
In Tanzania, strict trade regulations frequently lead to the extortion or destruction of merchants’ goods. One Kenyan woman was forced to watch as Tanzanian officials destroyed the chickens, eggs, sugar, and tea she had brought to sell in the country because she did not possess the correct import documents. Other traders have had their vehicles impounded or even been imprisoned themselves. A complex system of required documents, fees, and taxes makes it very difficult for anyone legally to bring goods into Tanzania. Many resort to dangerous smuggling attempts. This situation and the laws that produce it contribute to keeping millions of Tanzanians in poverty and prevent traders in neighboring countries, such as Kenya, from bringing trade goods to respond to shortages. Evans Exaud and Liberty Sparks are determined to change that situation.
Exaud’s winning pitch focused on his plan to build on Liberty Sparks’ previous work on Tanzanian trade policy. The organization has conducted in-depth research into how burdensome regulations have kept people in poverty and why they need to be reformed. The documentary they produced has helped bring attention to their findings. Now, they want to bring together lawmakers to show them how current laws ignore the reality of the situation for everyday people and why reform is so badly needed. Reducing the barriers to trade has the potential to lift many Tanzanians out of poverty, and Evans Exaud and Liberty Sparks are committed to making it happen.