African youth leaders in Kenya for social change, leadership training
More than 150 youth leaders from 26 African countries are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, for the African Liberty Forum (ALF). The two-day event brings together leaders and free market think tank from all over Africa and the rest of the world. Organized annually by the Atlas Network, the event is creating a platform for young leaders to dialogue around challenges facing Africa, interact and inspire ideas to effectively advance the cause of liberty.
Keynote speakers include Senegalese entrepreneur, Magatte Wade, Dr. Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Head of Mission to the United Nations at Nairobi, Japheth Omojuwa, founder, Alpha Reach; and Brad Lips, Atlas Network’s chief executive officer, among others.
Last year’s event held in Lagos, featuring a broad range of discussions on overcoming government corruption, holding government accountable, helping boost Africa’s entrepreneurial future and peaceful cooperation.
One of the discussions was facilitated by Manali Shah, an independent facilitator based in Delhi, India. It featured expert partners of Atlas Network, who have experience generating new ideas in combating corruption. With an understanding of the dynamics of government corruption, a challenge India and Nigeria share in common, Ms Shah steered an engaging dialogue that produced rich experience sharing among the speakers. Among them was Dr. Kofi Bentil, founder of Lex Praxis Incorporated- a law firm in Ghana, who believes that ‘sometimes we need to lead demonstrations to get the government to do the right thing’. Narrating his experience, he said: “I have led demonstrations in Ghana before. Sometimes we think it’s only unemployed people or uneducated people who go on demonstration. That is not true. We have had demonstrations with doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians. If you can’t get all these people, then you start doing these things that present a political consequence.”
Everybody worries about who fights them; when a politician sees that you are telling public opinion against them, they’ll sit down. Sometimes, what it takes is for you to mobilise people, even if you are five in number, it’s about impact. The first demonstration we had, there were under 1000 people. But we used social media very well, we reached about 15 million people across the world. Now it wasn’t that many people but the impact was amazing. So sometimes, it’s not just the number. It’s about intelligence in getting the right people. I’m talking about political precedence. And like it or not that is what the politicians cannot stand against you as strongly as they do.’
A key highlight of the Lagos edition of ALF was the introduction of the book ‘Applied Economics for Africa’. Written by Dr. George Ayittey, a renowned Ghanaian economist, Atlas Network officers had been an inspiration for the production when they met with Dr. Ayittey in 2013 to explore what would have the greatest long-term positive impact for liberty and prosperity in Africa. As the lack of sound economics that has driven so many disastrously harmful policies featured prominently in their discussion, Dr. Ayittey proposed to write a new textbook that would explain economics as a useful science and that would draw on familiar examples and on African history.
The result is a complete university-level textbook, Applied Economics for Africa, in which Dr. Ayittey vividly describes the deep history of market exchange in African societies and explains that a free and prosperous continent will depend, not on importing socialist ideas from abroad, but on building upon ‘its own indigenous heritage of participatory democracy based upon consensus, free village markets, and free enterprise’. The book, which has already received praise from Nobel Laureates Vernon Smith and Thomas Sargent, will be available free of charge on AtlasNetwork.org.
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