Peter Bismark Kwofie shakes hands with a participant of the National Undergraduate Debate and Essay Competition.
The 2017 Africa Liberty Forum, held in Johannesburg in May, closed with the much-anticipated Regional Think Tank Shark Tank Competition. The winner of this competition was Peter Bismark Kwofie, executive director and president of the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), an Atlas Network partner in Ghana. Kwofie won for his pitch of the “National Undergraduate Debate and Essay Competition” in Ghana, which has now become a reality.
“Apart from undergraduate students studying political science, economics, and other related economics and governance, the majority have never heard of economic freedom or free markets,” said Kwofie. “Those who have heard of it also do not know how it has the potential to eradicate poverty and create a free society.” Kwofie is devoted to sharing the message of liberty to Ghana’s young generation.
A perspective of the competition from the audience's point of view.
In this spirit, ILAPI launched its debate and essay competition for undergraduate students in Ghana. The theme of the contest was, Job Creation: A Role of The Individual, Not the Government. “Too many students in Ghana have a misguided role of government,” Kwofie continued. “They think the government’s role is to create jobs.”
Through this educational competition, ILAPI wants to encourage its participants to rely on themselves and their own individual strengths, rather than an unreliable government, to find their career paths. The debate and essay competition also helped the students learn the basic principles of freedom and classical liberalism as a fulcrum to creating prosperity in a free society.
Peter Bismark Kwofie gives his opening remarks before the National Undergraduate Debate and Essay Competition commences.
The debate component brought together nearly 500 students at three separate universities with 30 joining a local Students for Liberty campus chapter. Some students were so moved by the event that three even enrolled in Atlas Network's Leadership Academy. Over 20 essays were submitted for the national essay competition component, with winners to be announced on November 20. The winner must be a student in any tertiary institution in Ghana.
Kwofie was proud of the impact the event had on its participants, sharing, “For the first time, most students are believing in themselves after learning of economic freedom, property rights, and roles of government and antipoverty programs of the state. Students then turn to understand why they have to question the status quo and certain cumbersome campus policies that militate innovation and extort from them and how they can see themselves as future entrepreneurs.”
After the conclusion of the event, many students volunteered to record their reflections on the experience. One student was ecstatic, saying the event was, “beyond our imagination in what we thought it was [going to be], we have learned so much, we are already leaders, we are entrepreneurs on our own.”
“This project is changing the mindsets of students and preparing them for the future to help create prosperity through entrepreneurship and competition,” concluded Kwofie. “Unemployment is a threat to every economy and students are scared of not getting job after spending years studying. No one would like to be jobless and the debate and the essay is really making an impact more than ever before in Ghana.”
An alumnus of Atlas Network's Leadership Academy, Peter Bismark Kwofie was the winner of the 2017 Africa Think Tank Shark Tank competition.