July 8, 2019 Print

The Center for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDE) assembled the first Great Lakes Economic Summit, which emphasized the importance of economic freedom and featured an array of networking opportunities, engaging roundtable discussions, and international speakers. The June summit in Bujumbura, Burundi was sponsored by Atlas Network and attracted 120 intellectual minds from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Kenya, Lebanon, and Morocco.

In his opening remarks, Aimable Manirakiza, Chief Executive Officer of CDE Great Lakes, spoke of his desire to inspire policymakers, the media, and scholarly minds on the power of freedom as a solution for poverty alleviation.

Patrick Mardini, President and Founder of the Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (LIMS), led a roundtable discussion on the challenges of economic freedom, property rights protection, and the rule of law in the Great Lakes region. 

“The only key to prosperity in the Great Lakes region and around the world is economic freedom,” said Mardini. “If we let people work freely in the area they want without harassment, if we reduce the number of papers we ask to register for the ownership of a company, nothing will prevent people from coming out of poverty themselves.”

Another roundtable session led by Mardini, “Regulatory Barriers to Free Enterprise,” examined the disastrous consequences of over-regulation and was attended by representatives of regulatory agencies, representatives of the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Commerce. 

Mardini concluded his roundtable sessions with potential solutions and factors that will bring freedom and prosperity to the present and for generations to come in the Great Lakes region and the rest of the world. 

The summit concluded with a press conference where television hosts, online and print journalists, radio stations, and other Great Lakes media from Burundi, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo media attended to seek out answers from Mardini and Manirakiza. 

"Our aim is to show how much economic freedom can reduce the various barriers to prosperity," Manirakiza told La Nova News. As Manirakiza and his team focus on educating local leaders on the benefits of free markets, they will continue their efforts to work directly with government officials to improve economic freedom in the region.