The Africa Liberty Forum, sponsored by Atlas Network with organizing host the Johannesburg-based Free Market Foundation (FMF), is a gathering of the best and the brightest in Africa to discuss and exchange solutions that promote liberty and free-market reforms in the region.
What: Africa Liberty Forum, hosted by Atlas Network with local organizing host Free Market Foundation. Major sponsorship generously provided by the John Templeton Foundation.
When: May 23-25, 2017
Where: The Radisson Blu Hotel Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
Africa Liberty Forum Highlights
- Keynote speech from Tim Modise (Journalist, TV and radio presenter, South Africa)
- Keynote speech from Dr. Tom G. Palmer (Atlas Network, United States) about morality, property, and prosperity vs. confiscation and cronyism
- Additional featured speakers including, among others, John Kane-Berman (Institute of Race Relations, South Africa); Andrew Mwenda (journalist, Uganda); Bright Simons (mPedigree, Ghana); Ann Bernstein (Centre for Development and Enterprise, South Africa); Leon Louw (Executive Director, Free Market Foundation, South Africa); Chris Becker (Investec Bank Limited, South Africa); Rex van Schalkwyk (former Judge of the Supreme Court, South Africa); and Gareth Cliff (CliffCentral, South Africa)
- Regional Think Tank Shark Tank competition, where contestants pitch their innovative project before a panel of philanthropists and the regional network of free-market think tanks for the chance to win $5,000
- Announcement of the winner of the 2017 Africa Liberty Award
- Property Titling Day Trip to meet some of the recipients of title deedsfrom the FMF’s Khaya Lam (“My Home“) Land Reform Project
- Breakout session about entrepreneurs and the future of Africa
- Conversation about educating the region’s next generation
- Discussion about think tank projects that can yield real increases in economic freedom
With a current population of more than a billion people and a growth rate of about two and a half percent per annum, Africa is going to experience tremendous booms over the coming decades. By 2050, there will be 2.5 billion people living on the continent, and after 50 more years it will go up to 4.4 billion. So, by 2050 about 26% of the world’s population will reside in Africa and by the year 2100 it will contain 39% of the total.
To help cope with this tremendous increase, the countries of Africa need to form alliances with each other to start putting in futuristic infrastructure throughout the continent. They need more schools to train local citizens, thereby better empowering them to succeed. Like any other place in the world, independent innovation is going to be the key to modernizing Africa. This means local governments need to be restructured on better electoral systems. So, Africans need to have zero tolerance for improper governance. They need grassroots efforts to guarantee human rights.
Africa contains huge percentages of the global reserves of precious metals like magnesium and platinum, but so many people live in extreme poverty. This vast repository should transfer into the health and wealth of the people, but it doesn’t. Furthermore, farmland is becoming an increasingly rarer global commodity, but more than a quarter of all the fertile soil in the world is found in Africa. In reality, the continent has so much arable land that it should be exporting tons of food, however many areas are unused so countries end up needing to import vast quantities of edible goods, instead. This is a terrible waste of resources.
Foreign invested large-scale farming could help deal with this, but it’s not really the best solution. Although this would provide jobs to natives and allow for roads to be built and electricity to be harnessed, the problem is that it would make local populations dependent on foreign capital. Plus, vast mono-crop plantations cause tremendous harm to the planet, and the profits from things like palm oil don’t even really benefit local populations.
Food insecure countries don’t need overseas companies coming in and taking things over in vicious land grabs. There is a tremendously high demand for locally produced food that needs to be met. Plus, there are a number of exportable products throughout Africa — like cocoa, as well as sheep and goats. Everything is just being mismanaged, so very few people gain anything from all of this.
Granted, Africa’s food challenges are highly complex. They’re also very different from one country to the next. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, and all of the other African nations each need locally tailored solutions to their own locally specific problems. Although, the continents relentless growth means that it also needs to foster shared prosperity in order to flourish. This is quite a dilemma.
Inadequate infrastructure, erratic border policies, and weak input markets make it nearly impossible for the vast majority of countries in Africa to successfully modernize. They need enhanced irrigation and diverse crop varieties, but have no way of acquiring these things. This is terribly unfortunate because something like poor grain quality impacts every facet of daily life. So, the overall goal is to get lower production and transport costs on higher yields throughout the continent.
In addition to this, rampant deforestation is negatively impacting the lives of native hunter-gatherers more and more. So, to offset this, urban jungles need to be built to house these displaced communities. Strong public and private partnerships need to be made in order for this to occur. Simply put, there needs to be massive investment in the agribusiness sector to make more food locally available and to boost exports.
To make matters worse, along with widespread malnutrition, the growing threat of climate change will also negatively affect more and more people in Africa as time goes on. So, urban planning in the underdeveloped continent needs to move away from the concept of coastal living to prepare for the coming climate change inundations by setting up inland megacities. There needs to be massive investments in basic amenities like providing water to everyone by installing more plumbing.
By having better means of irrigation as well as access to electricity through renewable sources, Africans will experience quality of life increases unlike anything they have ever known before. Of course, this is going to require a great deal of commitment from the UN and the World Bank, as well as a number of other groups. Luckily, Africa’s workforce is developing faster than any other continent, so they will also be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, in many ways. If all goes well, by the turn of the century Africa will be completely new, with the fastest growing economies and the strongest middle class on the planet. That’s why we can’t afford to get this wrong. Africa simply has to modernize. The fate of the world depends on it.
Advice for foreign companies willing to invest in Africa:
- Do not come with solutions but ready to engage with others to find solutions: reengage the minds of the African population to solve their problems.
- You need local partnerships: coming from the outside, you’ll find a few things that will challenge your business model.
- You can’t have a short-term goal: you need patience for the investment to mature or for the industry to settle – in fact, you may need to help shape the industry.
- Know the values of where you are: if you want to build for the long term, you can’t just focus on the economic factor – you also need to facilitate social engagement.
To create economic value, create value for the people, and then they will support you.
Washington-based Atlas Network is a nonprofit organization that strengthens the worldwide freedom movement by connecting over 450 independent partners in 97 countries that share the vision of a free, prosperous, and peaceful world where limited governments defend the rule of law, private property, and free markets.
The mission of Johannesburg-based Free Market Foundation is to promote and foster an open society, the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom as fundamental components of its advocacy of human rights and democracy based on classical liberal principles.