June 11, 2020 Print

Atlas Network’s Africa Liberty Award celebrates think tanks throughout the region whose work most successfully encourages prosperity and human flourishing. The finalists for the 2020 Africa Liberty Award are:

South African Institute of Race Relations in South Africa for their “Big Daddy Liberty” project.

Students’ Organization for Liberty and Entrepreneurship in South Sudan for their “Right of South Sudanese Women to Own Property” project.

Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes in Burundi for their ProLibertyWriters program.

The winner will receive a $7,000 award, and each runner-up will receive $1,500. 

Tune into Africa Liberty Forum Online Wednesday, June 17, 2020 beginning at 11:00 am GMT Standard Time (4 hours ahead of EST) for the live announcement of the winner!

The South African Institute for Race Relations (South Africa)

The South African Institute for Race Relations’ new initiative seeks to bring the conversations about liberty from the offices to the streets. Big Daddy Liberty (BDL), is an online personality who promotes classical liberal ideas and dispels stereotypes about black South African political ideology. BDL seeks to change the status quo by conveying the message that people don’t have to conform to expectations and stereotypes. BDL is giving a voice to blacks who do not approve of the status quo, and is making the ideas of liberty, freedom, and diversity of thought mainstream through three media programs: 

The Big Liberty Show is the core of BDL’s brand. The show is a multimedia approach that specializes in man-on-the-street interviews about current and specific issues. The intention is to disrupt the “fiefdom of political thought.”

The Liberty & Friends Podcast is a regular program that includes a solo presentation from BDS on issues pertaining to freedom, a segment with 1-2 libertarians, and an interview with a special guest.

Blacks Only is a facetious and humorous, yet serious discussion hosted by BDL and 1 or 2 non-white guests to counter the narrative that skin color is indicative of opinions.

BDL has garnered a ton of media attention since he joined the Institute for Race Relations team in 2018. When he joined, he had a Twitter following of about 10,000. Today he has over 160,000 Twitter followers and more than 201,000 YouTube views. 

Students’ Organization for Liberty and Entrepreneurship (South Sudan)

While South Sudanese women are legally allowed to own and purchase property, a lack of knowledge, entrenched discrimination, and a lack of money has made it impossible for a vast majority to do so. Students’ Organization for Liberty and Enterprises (SOLE) is laying the foundation for change to a system that continues to push women out of property ownership and onto the streets.

SOLE launched an awareness campaign that seeks to educate women on their rights, and better equip them with the tools necessary to both advocate for change and buy property. Special workshops and community meetings have been offered to women in Yambio and Nzara, the counties with the most embedded discrimination. Additionally, radio appearances and outreach were launched to help women understand their rights. 

In five months, SOLE has trained almost 500 women. To date, 13 women have bought 15 pieces of land, 9 have acquired a land lease, 7 have started new business ventures. SOLE hopes to educate 2,000 women in Yambio and Nzara and reach 8,000 people through radio outreach with this project. With the help of SOLE, women will no longer be second-class citizens. 

Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (Burundi)

In Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), few free-market publications are widely available. Starting in 2018, the Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (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 towards 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.