Atlas Network Names Three Finalists for 2024 Africa Liberty Award

From Burundi to Tanzania and Uganda, Africa’s freedom champions are improving the lives of millions of people

Arlington, VA — Today, Atlas Network—the nonprofit organization that partners with nearly 600 independent think tanks in over 100 countries worldwide—announced its finalists for the 2024 Africa Liberty Award, which honors the region’s most outstanding freedom champion. The three finalists for this year’s award are Burundi’s Centre For Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (represented by chief executive Manirakiza Aimable); Tanzania’s Liberty Sparks (represented by CEO Evans Exaud); and Uganda’s Ethical African Organization (represented by director Lutakome Imran Kigongo), with all three organizations making innovative contributions to economic freedom and human progress.

Atlas Network’s winner will be announced at Africa Liberty Forum on July 11th and 12th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event will be hosted by Atlas Network in collaboration with Liberty Sparks, shaping the future of Africa’s economic prosperity in Tanzania’s bustling, dynamic capital. More information can be found here.

The three African award finalists made exemplary contributions to the cause of freedom:

Centre For Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (Burundi)

Women make up 70 percent of the workers in Burundi’s agricultural workforce—the country’s largest economic sector—but under 10 percent of landowners. This disparity is caused by legal and cultural factors that make it difficult for women to own and inherit land, and it prohibits women from both providing for their families and reaching their full potential to grow the world’s poorest economy. To address this problem and promote equality before the law, Centre For Development and Enterprises Great Lakes carried out their unprecedented “Why Women” policy and public education project. Over the last three years, the organization held critical conversations on roadblocks to the prosperity of girls and women and conducted rigorous, impartial policy analysis that led to historic policy reforms—from recognizing the existence of women in land management to securing their access to inherited land titles. Because of CDE Great Lakes’ ongoing work with the parliament, the supreme court, and other stakeholders, millions of Burundian women and girls now have stronger legal protections for their right to benefit from the land that belongs to them—without discrimination.

Ethical African Organization (Uganda)

In Uganda, operators of motorcycle taxis (known locally as “boda bodas”) were subject to burdensome licensing and bureaucratic procedures, meaning that many of these young entrepreneurs frequently dealt with harassment and unscrupulous arrests at the hands of police. Boda bodas are a crucial self-employment option for Ugandans and an important transportation service for the country’s broader labor market, but the challenges riders faced made it difficult for them to provide for their families. Ethical African Organization recognized their plight and worked with key policy makers to address the many indignities boda boda operators suffered. In addition to mobilizing influencers and producing a groundbreaking documentary on boda boda owners’ fight for economic survival, the organization shared policy proposals with Uganda’s prime minister and other relevant offices for reducing the cost of a rider’s license from 130,000 shillings (about $35) to 30,000 shillings (about $8). And, for the first time, boda boda riders gained a voice, making it easier for entrepreneurs in the transportation sector to use motorcycles for business and contribute meaningfully to the Ugandan economy.

Liberty Sparks (Tanzania)

Determined to assess and improve Tanzania’s economic policy, Liberty Sparks executed a comprehensive “Tanzania Economic Freedom Audit” in 2022 and, based on their research, advocated for reforms that enhance opportunity. After conducting thorough research, the organization published and distributed their report identifying the fundamental issues holding back the country’s prosperity and highlighting key opportunities for Tanzania to improve its economic freedom. Liberty Sparks then worked with a coalition of allies to develop and advance policy solutions. Thanks to their efforts, the government implemented policy changes to strengthen property rights and remove barriers to entrepreneurship and economic prosperity. Liberty Sparks also helped facilitate trade by eliminating import penalties, reducing license fees, and harmonizing foreign vehicle transit charges. From customs and tax reform to labor market changes that increase private investment, the audit created remarkable momentum for pro-market policymaking in Tanzania—and broader support for the free market among the public and policymakers alike.

The Africa Liberty Award is part of the Templeton Freedom Award prize program sponsored by Templeton Religion Trust—named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. In addition to Africa, the program sponsors awards in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Middle East and North Africa. Its grand prize, the Templeton Freedom Award, is presented annually at Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner in New York City. This year, the prize program will award $270,000 in grants to high-achieving organizations that make innovative contributions to economic freedom and human progress.

“In some of the world’s poorest countries, the African freedom movement is showing millions of people that economic freedom is the path to upward mobility,” said Brad Lips, CEO of Atlas Network. “From Burundi to Tanzania and Uganda, freedom champions in the think tank community are making prosperity more attainable than ever before through research projects, media campaigns, policy reforms, and other forms of innovative advocacy. These free-market ‘idea entrepreneurs’ are worthy of Atlas Network’s support, and we are proud to honor local leaders who make a true difference in their communities—despite numerous obstacles and opposition.”