The inaugural Africa Liberty Forum kicked off with more than 120 attendees in Accra, Ghana, on June 9–10, co-hosted by IMANI Center for Policy and Education. The event brought together friends of the freedom movement across Africa to discuss challenges facing the region and to learn from one another how to most effectively advance free-market reforms.
The first day opened with an address from Franklin Cudjoe, founding president and CEO of IMANI Center for Policy and Education in Ghana, as well as a dynamic discussion on “Africa’s Prosperous Future: Challenges to Entrepreneurship,” featuring Herman Chinery-Hesse (CEO of SOFTtribe), Brian Conklin (USAID), Awurabena Okrah (CEO of Winglow Clothes & Textiles Ltd.), and Dr. Gordon Kewsi Adomdza (Ashesi University). Attendees also watched Acton Institute's prestigious Templeton Freedom Award–winning documentary film Poverty, Inc. and examined the challenges to economic growth in Africa.
The speakers focused much of their attention on aid distribution — and the notion that Africans lack thinking capacity to propel development socially, economically, and politically. “Aid may help some entrepreneurs but it is not a sustainable model,” Okrah said. Instead, they need greater access to unhindered free trade throughout their countries, regions, the continent, and the broader world.
Dr. Kwesi Aning, director of faculty of academic affairs and research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, discussed the pervasive insecurity throughout much of Africa, and whether it is drive by religious differences, poverty, or unemployment. He also highlighted the frustrating reality of high youth unemployment in many African countries.
The second day included sessions on regional trade, the oil industry, and an intriguing discussion about the Chinese economic downturn and the lessons it provides for Africa. Panelists also discussed fundraising techniques and how think tanks can gain financial support for the ideas of liberty and free market reforms in Africa.
Dr. Tony Oteng Gyasi (CEO of Tropical Cables & Conductors Ltd., and IMANI board member) spoke at the closing dinner about free enterprise and economic development, and Ace Ankomah Esq. (managing partner at Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah) spoke about civil liberties, national security, and law in the age of technology.
The dinner included the announcement of the winner of the inaugural Africa Liberty Award, Namibia-based Chevauchee Foundation, for its “Namibia Schools Reading and Debating Societies” program that introduces the ideas of freedom, Austrian economics, and public choice theory to students in high schools and universities across the country.