African Journalists For Economic Opportunity Training – Not Your Usual ‘Free Food, Big Selfie Stick’ Kinda Forum

African free market think tanks, other than fattening your participants and talented speakers, and giving them an opportunity to take epic photos next to the guy/lady adorning the latest fashion design in high quality fabric, how else do you create impact? How do you measure...

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African free market think tanks, other than fattening your participants and talented speakers, and giving them an opportunity to take epic photos next to the guy/lady adorning the latest fashion design in high quality fabric, how else do you create impact? How do you measure impact? Do you journey in-mission?

Do not get me wrong. I love food. Whenever I come across delicious food, I don’t just eat it, I enjoy it. I did pretty recently and I will be telling you all about it in a jiffy.

I also have the habit of taking pictures next to the best looking, best dressed individuals at conferences. As a proponent of individual liberty, I am certain you reckon there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Africa faces a lot of challenges that mostly require policy solutions. It is therefore important that platforms are created where individuals and organizations can have a conversation on how to come up with sustainable solutions to such development-impeding obstacles.

The libertarian perspective holds that the role of government in a free society is to protect lives and property. Anything more than that is meddling. Note that I did not say ‘regulate’, ‘govern’ or ‘control’.

The status quo on the subject of a free society, especially in Africa, points to a people so governed, controlled and regulated that it is becoming difficult to make many individual decisions.

However, there is hope for a better future. This is evidenced by an increasing number of individuals and organizations that are convinced that free markets, individual liberty and limited governments can change the narrative from poverty reduction to wealth creation and improved living standards for all in Africa.

I must admit, it is challenging to package the ideas of freedom in a manner that they can be accepted in the society. Often, when people hear about liberty or freedom, what comes to mind is a society of people with absolute freedom and, at worst, lawlessness!

That is not the kind of freedom propagated by free market advocates. What we are saying is that if you set an individual free, they have the potential to become the best version of themselves. This freedom is limited to respecting and not infringing the liberty of another.

We believe that free trade can create massive wealth, get countries and individuals out of poverty and improve lives.

We believe that if governments stop meddling in the affairs of private sector and businesses, there is a huge potential for job creation and empowerment. Development happens with less hurdles.

Now, in order to encode these messages in a way that is comprehensible and a little interesting, capacity building is paramount for agents of these good ideas.

The Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI) is a free market think tank based in Ghana, whose mission is to provide innovative economic research and pensive multidisciplinary public policy advocacy through intellectually-inspired leadership to help create freedom and prosperity for a free society.

Simply put, ILAPI Ghana does public policy research and advocacy to help develop and analyze public policy that inspire a free, peaceful and prosperous society.

ILAPI was founded four years ago but has been in the forefront in building a prosperous society in Africa by intensive research and taking part in public policy discourse geared towards individual empowerment and the larger development agenda in Africa.

This is evidenced by, among other things, a recent award by the Atlas Network’s ‘Africa Think Tank Shark Tank’ competition which ILAPI bagged in 2017 during the Africa Liberty Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the same year, ILAPI conceptualized a program called ‘African Journalists For Economic Opportunities’ (AJEOT). This is a two-day intensive residential certification training for journalists and prolific writers to learn the tools for advocacy and economic principles of classical liberalism. This will help shape public policy discourse and question the status quo, in favour of a free and prosperous society.

The first group was trained in August 2017 in Ghana.

Between 23 and 24 June 2018, journalists from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Switzerland gathered in Koforidua, Ghana for a more intense training facilitated by some of the best facilitators in the global liberty movement.

ILAPI is also known to have the culture of nurturing talent and, therefore, some new talent was also given an opportunity to facilitate at the forum.

Facilitators took participants through various topics, including:

“Introduction to Classical Liberal Geopolitics” by Vicente Camara from Switzerland;

“Identifying Tools for Economic Journalism” by Tom Palmer from America via Skype

“Understanding the Liberal Framework Within the Realms of Public Policy Formulation” by Ebenezer Nii Tackie

“Media Entrepreneurship” by Abdul-Rahman Dogbatey Sarpong

“Media Censorship in Africa” by Evans Badu Boampong, Vice President of ILAPI

“Two Ideologies in One Country” by Professor Brian Baugus via Skype. He postulated that corruption and illegal systems were the two major problems hindering development of Africa.

“Government, Inflation and GDP” by Bright Nkyi, economist and research assistant at ILAPI.

Myself, being the president of a new free market think tank and a writer, spoke on internet freedom and how restrictions to access and privacy violations affect economic and social gains that accrue from responsible use of the internet.

Dr. Steve Davies from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in the United Kingdom also addressed participants via Skype.

He argued that subsidies by government was a bad leadership approach to solving problems and also emphasized the need for African leaders to make it possible for citizens to own property in order to reduce conflicts.

Evans Kissi-Appiah, a PhD candidate in Germany in agricultural economics, touched on the apparent disconnect between resource management and economic prosperity.

Mr.  Isaac Annan Yalley spoke about the banking economy and the reasons why banks fail. He argued that it will be more efficient if banks concentrate on delivering quality services with fewer branches, instead of focusing only on opening more branches.

IMANI Africa president, Franklin Cudjoe, shared with journalists tips on how to unravel and communicate evils in the society without necessarily putting their lives at risk.

He went on to say that good journalism can help identify the gaps in policy and use their mediums to expose corruption. Mr. Cudjoe explained how corruption is executed through projects and contracts and cited the Kelni GVG as an example. He described the contract as a ‘grand theft’ being used to rob the limited resources of the state.

The event was climaxed with an awards night where participants were put into groups to answer questions and compete for an award. Individuals were also allowed to pitch business ideas of a media platform that would best carry and disseminate the ideas of a free society. ILAPI Ghana would fund the website of the winner.

The best speaker award went to Vicente Bacardi. He received a gold medal and a certificate.

The best participant awards went to Rashid Obodai Provencal from Ghana who also won the business pitch competition. Dayo Pelumi from Nigeria also won the best participant award. Stephen Bernard, an investigative journalist, and Roderick Asante, a journalist with Groupe Ndoum (GN) TV, received medals for two major stories they pursued after the 2017 AJEOT.

Stephen Bernard went undercover to expose a police officer who abused a civilian. He subsequently reported the case at PIPS despite threats on his life.

The Hayek group won the day two assignment presentation on identifying a policy area and determining policy gaps using liberal principles, and suggesting five ways to help government create a free society.

Economic freedom is a driver of economic empowerment, and respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a prosperous society.

AJOET is a platform that equips journalists to do just that; break barriers to economic freedom and empower individuals for a free and prosperous society.

I am extremely honored to have been a speaker at the AJEOT 2018, in Koforudia, Ghana. I look forward to AJEOT 2019!

I ate Ghana’s best delicacies, gained knowledge, networked, trained, and I am now ready to continue the conversation on another platform created by Young Africans For Opportunities (YAFO), an African non-profit organization seeking to break barriers to economic opportunities and empower young professionals, entrepreneurs and students through public policy research and advocacy.

AJOET was made possible by generous support from the Atlas Network, the Network For A Free Society, the Language of Liberty Institute, and the African Liberty Organization for Development.

YAFO was actively involved in the planning and logistics at the forum.

The proceedings were covered by Ominira TV, an online libertarian television network that seek to package and disseminate information on activities by free market think tanks in Africa.

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