Ghana Hosts 9th Students & Young Professionals Academy (SYPALA 2015)

The Students and Young Professionals African Liberty Academy (SYPALA) is the educational wing of the globally respected Ghana-based think tank, IMANI Center for Policy and Education.  SYPALA was started in Ghana in 2007 and has since been held in five African Universities in five countries.

This year’s seminar will be held in Ghana, specifically at the University of Ghana Business School (Finance Department) from August 25-29, 2015.    Our theme for this year’s SYPALA is “Africa is rising, where is the evidence? Effective Politics and Policy Making in the New Africa”.

Some of the lectures to be delivered are as follows;

Africa is rising – Who are the key drivers and what can the laggards learn?  What role for the African Entrepreneur? (Nkunimdini Asante-Antwi), How to get a sleepy government bureaucracy walking again – The case of OccupyGhana and the Ghana Audit service – (Lawyer Ace Ankomah), Can Governments ever be trusted to provide efficient public goods? (Sydney Casely-Hayford), Do countries really need long-term development plans in a dynamic political and competitive marketplace of ideas? (Kofi Bentil), Dealing with one of Africa’s biggest enemy – corruption – (Japheth Omojuwa), What aspects of regional trade integration is feasible for Africa today? – (Patrick Kwabena Stephenson), Can Obama’s “Power Africa” keep the lights on in Africa? What role should African governments play in the energy sector? (Kofi Boahen), Reflections on entrepreneurship/ Youth employment in Africa – (Fatim Badjie), What does it mean for a country to seek a bail out from the IMF? – (Dr. Godfred Bokpin), How did Africa fare with the MDGs? Should we bother with the SDGs? When are we going to have our own blueprint for development?—(Yaw Adu Gyamfi), How can we build a prosperous Africa?   What Foundations of public Policy do Africans really need? – (Franklin Cudjoe), Why are African Youth Loosing Hope in African Leadership – The case of CDD’s Afrobarometer?  -Dr. Franklin Oduro

Background and origins of SYPALA

SYPALA is built on an educational centered model with the core mandate of training a new crop of future visionaries and leaders who will carry the torch of liberty and blaze the trail of prosperity in the coming dawn of African renaissance.  Annually, SYPALA organizes seminars that cater to almost half of the African continent with the strategic aim of equipping young professionals and students with the right tools to practically affect change wherever they find themselves and equally participate in the development process of their respective countries by turning challenges into solutions.   After going through vigorous training and coaching, participants are encouraged to submit policy-oriented papers addressing (a) particular issue(s) in their respective countries with (of course) recommendations provided going forward to be published weekly on the academy’s website.

Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President of IMANI and Chief Executive Officer of SYPALA, says of SYPALA, “we provide opportunities such as this seminar for intellectually curious young people to explore the ideas of human freedom and their application to today’s problems. We are focused on these seminar series because we are convinced that ideas have consequences.”

SYPALA’s Chief Visionary Officer and founder of mPedigree, Bright Simons says “IMANI’s focus has not departed from one of its core objectives of training a new corps of future visionaries and leaders who will carry the torch of liberty and blaze the trail of prosperity in the coming dawn of African renaissance. IMANI’s continental seminars have catered to many of the youth from across Africa, and brought many determined and inspired students in contact with Africa’s leading thinkers and doers.”

SYPALA 2007 in Ghana; – Participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, United Kingdom, Germany

SYPALA which is spearheaded by IMANI launched its first ever seminar in 2007 at the Ashesi University Campus. It was in collaboration with Ashesi University, CATO Institute, European Enterprise Institute and the Staley Foundation. This program under the IMANI Summer University (IMSU) led a five day seminar which had over 60 carefully selected and illustrious participants from a range of Universities and professionals in Ghana, West Africa, the USA and the UK. Some of the Universities represented were the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Institute of Professional Studies (now University of Professional Studies, Accra), Kumasi Polytechnic, London School of Journalism, among others. Some professionals from organizations such as the Free Africa Foundation, Center for Ethics and Technological Development and the Quorum Corporate Services also attended. The theme for the summit was “Inspiring African Transformation” signifying the beginning of a wave in which Africa would continuously transform herself for the betterment / prosperity of her citizens.

The speakers for the program were Dr. Robert Darko Osei, Dr. Yaw Adarkwah Antwi, Reverend Daniel Ogbammey Tetteh, Ms. June Arunga, Mr. Kofi Bentil, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, Mr. Peter Jungen and Mr. Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah. The aim of this first seminar was to give birth to a generation of intellectually conscious future leaders who were willing to explore freedom and pursue goals for the benefit of all in society.

Mr. Peter Jungen, a German Industrialist and philanthropist also drew upon his longstanding experience in the highest echelons of the German industry surveying the power globalization is lending to entrepreneurial developments across the world, sometimes regardless of local constraints. He observed that never before in recorded history, has poverty been decreased as fast as in our times. For the first time since the industrial revolution, inequality has fallen. The world has become a better place due to globalization and a fast-spreading culture of entrepreneurship.

 Mr. Kofi Bentil spoke also on Entrepreneurship & the Spirit of Creative Destruction with insights not being only philosophical but also being downright practical. Mr. Bentil guided participants through a maze of ideas which led to the breathtaking vision of “revolutionary” capitalism once drawn by the renowned economist, Schumpeter. Schumpeter had believed that the traditional systems of economic transformation such as the theories of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes to be flawed and incomplete.

SYPALA 2008 in Ghana; – Participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, United States, United Kingdom

In 2008, SYPALA saw yet another successful session. The momentum of the previous year had gathered more force and the theme for this year was “Liberty Abreast African Intellect”. The venue was once again the premier Ashesi University with an overflow of speakers rich in knowledge and ready to share their wisdom to participants. The speakers who graced the seminar were from a wide range of backgrounds such as businessmen, journalists, pharmaceutical companies, think tanks, the banking sector, political scientists, academics, military officers, technology gurus, among others.

 The first session was on Privacy in an Age of Internet Domination with a representative from NHIA making a presentation on the National Health Insurance Database System. There was another presentation by a representative from NIA speaking on the National Identification Authority Project. These two presentations were especially useful seeing as Ghana is moving towards being more technologically savvy with health insurance and national identification being inclusive of this shift and what issues of privacy may arise with registered citizenry under both of these programs.

 The second segment addressed 6 tips on preventing coup d’états in Africa with the presentation coming from none other than the men at the forefront, retired military Generals Major General John Attipoe and Lt. General Arnold Quainoo (retd) who gave some remarks on ethics and patriotism training for the modern African Army and Civil-Military Relationships in Africa using some contemporary perspectives as examples.

 There was also a round table discussion on having a Liberal Healthcare regime in Africa with the Keynote speaker, Mr. Nathaniel Otoo, Director of Administration at the National Health Insurance Authority on the topic of Ghana’s National Health Insurance and whether there were any pitfalls ahead of the rolling out of the insurance scheme. This further opened the platform to other professionals in the health and pharmaceutical industry presenting on topics such as drug patents and pharmaceutical innovation, prescription costs as well as the dynamics of local medicine supply.

 There was also a segment on what constitutes Good Governance and Economic Prosperity with a series of presentations from enlightened persons on the topic such as Professor Ken Atafuah from the Justice & Human Rights Institute who gave a symposium on the rule of law and the accountability of public institutions.

The last segment of the conference was on the Foundations of International Trade with many speakers giving their insight on the system of international. Notably, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson and Bright Simons gave an exposition on the topic to further assess the impact of international trade on African players, in what they titled; Chinese Dragon; African Prey which sought to look at whether the Chinese were hampering Africa’s development by “preying” on its resources.

Other lectures delivered were on “ Populism and Participatory Democracy: Why Elections are not enough” by Dr. Kwesi Jonah, “Climate Change & Food Security: Putting the Cart before” and “Spontaneous Order, Efficient Design & Central Planning “ by Kofi Bentil,” “Energy Security & the so-called Resource Curse” by Dr. Kwabena Donkor,” How to Hook a Loan Shark” by Pearl Esua-Mensah of UT Bank, “Foundations of Public Policy Analysis and Journalism” and “Property as Norm & Resource “ by Dr. Tom Palmer, “The Free-Rider problem from the Tragedy of the Commons” by Franklin Cudjoe, “Rent-seeking, Special Interests & Moral Hazard” by Bright Simons and June Arunga.  Philip Sowah, Yaw Owusu, Dr. Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, Dorothy Gordon Director-General, Kofi Annan ICT Centre of Excellence, Estelle Akofio-Sowah, Bernard Avle, Yofi Grant, Kofi Dadzie, Michael Amankwah and Eric Osiakwan were among the 60 faculty members.

The significance of this seminar cannot be understated as one participant, Sasha Nuer expressed his gratitude for being a part of this experience and cited it as the turning point in his life after being fed up with seeing the lackadaisical manner in which development policies were initiated and implemented in Ghana and other developing countries and so was thrilled to be part of a group that was brainstorming on various national and other development issues affecting the African continent.

SYPALA 2009 in Ghana-; Participants from Nigeria, Guinea, Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States

By 2009, IMANI’s SYPALA had proven that it was here to stay as a household name which was actively imparting the youth with the required skills to spur positive change in their nation and the African continent in general. The third symposium with the theme “Africa in an Age of Uncertainty” was held at the premises of the Ashesi University with about 80 participants from various universities from home and beyond such as the University of Ghana, Kumasi Polytechnic, KNUST, Anambra State University, Nigeria, National University of Rwanda, University of Botswana, University of Venda, University of Dar es Salam, Oxford Brookes University, University of Leicester, just to name a few. There were about 60 speakers, comprising of Army Generals, CEOs, Senior Technocrats, and Academic Deans and Dons who administered to the participants enkindling in these bright young minds a strong desire to become champions of liberty, proponents of the prosperity borne by strong markets and human rights, and principled advocates for the rule of law and institutional growth here in Ghana and farther afield.

Past Ministers of State, Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom of the CPP, Herman Chinery Hesse of SOFT tribe, Prof. Ato Quayson, Director of Diasporan and Trans-National Centre at the University of Toronto, Canada, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, immediate past CEO of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, David Ofosu-Dorte, Managing Partner of one of Ghana’s five leading law firms, Edwin Baffour, Corporate Affairs Director of Guinness Ghana Brewery, Estelle Akofio Sowah, Google Ghana, Judith Aidoo, one time advisor to President Clinton and Ms Joyce Aryee, CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Kweku Sakyi-Addo, host of the Kwaku One-on-One show on TV3, Kwesi Pratt, a consummate socialist, Paul Adom Otchere, of Metro TV, Eric Don Arthur of TV3 and Dr. Patrick Awuah, President of Ashesi University who opened the program with a deeply thought provoking welcome address to the SYPALA 2009 participants.

Mr. Eric Don-Arthur led a session on Finding Africa’s Voice in the Global Crisis which sought to ensure that Africa would remain a player in spite of the global financial meltdown in the West and how to brace ourselves from the negative trickledown effect that was bound to occur. There was also another session on the importance of globalization for all countries to be winners from the exchanges that occur under globalization. Mr. Gabby Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, developed the theme of government duty further, narrowing the focus to Rule of Law and Civil Liberties.

Gabby made a striking observation that nearly all the purposive social actions of the Hitlers, Abachas, and Stalins, of yesteryear, were perfectly legal according to the constitutions that they bulldozed through. Thus it is easy to conclude that “The Rule by Law” does not necessarily coincide with the “Rule of Law”. To properly identify the key features of the rule of law, we must necessarily view it against a backdrop of a kind of constitutionalism which assumes certain basic rights to be unquestionable and unalterable by any sovereignty beyond the law itself.

Chinery Hesse used his life to demonstrate to the young Africans that one does not necessarily need to be the best student in school to be able to make a change in the world around them. Not deprecating his sharp intellect, he noted that with hindsight, school makes one think “in the box” these days and that much as educational qualifications are necessary it takes personal resolve to be able to “think outside the box” and make a difference. He said instead of running away to the West for the so-called greener pastures, the youth must see Africa as the best place that offers them the opportunity to explore their potential and come up with solutions to the plethora of challenges facing the continent.

Franklin Cudjoe, Founding Director of IMANI, thrilled the gathering, when his time came, with an amazing array of anecdotes and personal accounts of the struggles – intellectual and social – involved in the process of developing a “homegrown think-tank” that was independent-minded and prided itself on objective, but forceful, research.

He later laid open the critical elements of the debate about property rights, by situating it firmly in the struggle for fundamental freedom. Property implies empowerment and guarantees dignity. Property implies a stake in the security of the collective, because the guarantee of freedoms also, necessarily, requires a mechanism to implement restraints on any anarchic tendencies that may pose a threat to the notion of property. Therefore, property is also critical to the prospects of civil society – the layer beneath the state that activates our concerns about the collective that predate the state.

Bright B. Simons, of IMANI took participants through the rudiments of the theory of Unintended Consequences after which a spirited discussion about the role of the government in the developmental state ensued. Bright spent some time justifying his position that “specialization” and “competition” are fundamental principles that seem to produce optimal results and favour small government over big government. “We can only ask government to do more when it has demonstrated competence in the things it is specialized to do, or ought to specialize to do, such as the provision of judicial services, guaranteeing the rule of law and strengthening the framework that enables fair competition amongst self-interested private interests”.

Speaking at a development reception held at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, presidential candidate for the Convention People’s Party in the 2008 election encouraged the youth to read but not to become “slaves to ideology.” “Read and understand the history of the development of the world” he urged.

Major (Rtd) Courage Quashiga, Ghana’s immediate past Health Minister was full of praise for the participants for choosing to be part of the seminar and advised them to learn as much as they can to be competitively relevant in the world.

In a rather controversial but thought provoking presentation, Major Quashigah said it seemed colonialism did not only put chains on the hands and legs of Africans but their minds as well. Noting that other colonized countries have shaken off their colonial garb, he was surprised that many African leaders were holding their own to ransom with negative economic growth strategies. He urged the students to understand that there was something practically wrong with their society, and their contributions would help change the depressing reality for good.

Speaking to the Public Agenda, a number of the participants noted that they were glad to have been part of the programme and that they were going back to their various countries with a renewed sense of duty. There were interactive sessions and group discussions following some TED video screenings which sought to dissect the problem facing African nations being broken down into segments under the headings Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs. This session desired to find solutions to some of the ailments facing Africa such as nepotism, corruption, and the incompetence of the public sector. It also looked to mend the rifts of partisanship and heal the nation of its bleak past. It gave hope that the onus was on the youth to be creative and inspired to change the trajectory of the nation by using the lessons gathered from past mistakes and putting it to good use whiles translating it into ammunition to face and conquer present challenges.

A participant’s testimony on the program gives sufficient credence to its implementation stating that, “you have fertilized my mind; all my life I will bear fresh seeds of liberty”.

Akin Iwilade, a participant from Nigeria said “Knowing the difficult context of Africa’s development, I am quite impressed with what Imani was able to put together. Sypala 2009 was a master piece of logistic efficiency, a testimony of the outstanding quality of a dedicated, even if rather small, staff. I came, and I do not regret it.”
Akin continues, “Even though Sypala did not instantly change my left leaning values; I have learnt something. This is that even though we live in a world that inevitably makes it difficult for the common people, for whom the state ought to exist, many of the entrepreneurs, the key drivers of the economy, are merely normal people who wish to do things for themselves. Akin added, “somehow, in my deep resentment of the exploitative logic of capitalism, I missed the obvious fact that most capitalists are indeed good people, some of them visionaries in fact, and accommodation could still, perhaps, be found within the contradictions that plague our different conceptions of the world. I am grateful for the respect with which the IMANI team treated us and must say that it is a refreshing g new ideal in a generation of falling standards.”

Mbasekei Martin Obono, a Nigerian participant who received the grand award and the founder of Youth Against Cybercrimes in Nigeria said the seminar “had helped him network and meet people to learn from their experiences.”

Benjamin Akyena, a merit award recipient of Ghana also said he had learned a lot from the seminar and the “tried and tested faculty” and that he was going back “with a renewed appetite and desire to make things happen.”

Another participant, Theophilus Acheampong, winner of the Sohne Prize for African Excellence said, “This week has been a very transformational one for me personally. It has rekindled the burning desire in me to bring about the much needed change that I want to see happen in Ghana and Africa. And for this great mission to be accomplished I need knowledge, integrity and the great entrepreneurial mindset. After this week’s intellectual and brainstorming sessions, I’m very much empowered to bring about the change that I want to see. My life has been made better thanks to IMANI and SYPALA 2009. I’m ever ready to participate and contribute to any of IMANI’s research and programs.” Theophilus received a laptop donated by Tropical Business Solutions, a colour printer donated by IPMC, Ghana and an MP3 player. The prizes were awarded by the Australian High Commissioner in Ghana, Prof. Atu Kwei Okai, and CEO of West African Business Association and IMANI’s Board Chairman, Mr. Sam Poku.

 SYPALA 2010 in Tanzania:  Participants from Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria

By 2010, SYPALA needed no introduction. She was known around the continent and this time, SYPALA decided to spread its wings and take its conference to the East African country of Tanzania where the well known week long symposium was held. This was to enable the East African students who were previously unable to attend SYPALA conferences due to financial constraints have the program come off right at their doorstep at the University of Dodoma (UDOM) with 65 young promising students from Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. As always, students were in for a life changing session from lectures, discussions and group discussions that shaped their worldview and always geared them towards wanting to do more for man and society.

Most of the themes from the program revolved around the thoughts and thinking of French philosopher, journalist and economist Frederic Bastiat in commemoration of his 209th birthday. Writing in the early 19th century, Frederic Bastiat capably weighed in, with wit and insight, into the popular discussions of individual freedom versus power.  We have seen how much carnage the politics of big men has caused in Africa. Bastiat warned of the penchant for  governments  legislating powers to enable them to drive their utopian ideas of equalizing welfare for everyone, when, in fact, the only way to achieve that was by un-equalizing power by giving rulers the power to take what everyone had productively applied their minds and physical labour to.

There are a lot of these often misdirected do-good attitudes by many African governments with dire consequences for “prosperity, morality, equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, cooperation, property, labor, trade, capital, wages, taxes, population, finance, or government”.  But, Bastiat believed then, and many will attest to the fact that many of society’s problems though largely caused by intrusive governments have one solution- liberty.  “At whatever point on the scientific horizon I begin my researches, I invariably reach this one conclusion: the solution to the problems of human relationships is to be found in liberty”.

Thus many of the themes at this year’s program invariably fell within the theme of liberty in response to tackling many of the questions and challenges facing Africa. An essay competition was also launched allowing the youth from age 18-35 take an active part in dealing with a question in a practical manner and in 1500 words, were to identify three actions of their government which they considered curious or rather suspicious while describing some of the hidden costs behind the actions and this was to be reflective of Bastiat’s thoughts on opportunity cost. Prospective essay writers were encouraged to read Bastiat’s essay, What Is seen and What Is not Seen. The awards for the essay writers were as follows, $800 for first place, $600 for second and $400 for third. There were also 5 Honorable mentions with $150 for each mention.

SYPALA 2011 in Nigeria; – Participants from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, United States

For this year, SYPALA was held at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria with 75 students and young professionals across Africa meeting giving hope to the continent once more as determined and revolutionary citizens as they discussed and deliberated how to deal with the issues facing Africa. Tom Palmer of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in a statement said, “This group of young people is so inspiring. Their questions are focused and well formulated. They are striving for understanding. And they are determined to win their liberty, to uphold their dignity, and to demand justice from their governments. They exemplify free minds exercising free speech to demand free markets and prosperity.”

The significance of this program is not lost on anyone and one Nigerian couldn’t have put it any better by saying that, “Nigeria’s quest for economic liberalization and socio-cultural liberty will receive a massive boost when some of the world’s most productive Libertarian voices come calling this week. Africa’s most populous country will host the Students and Young Professional African Liberty Academy Seminar SYPALA 2011 at the historic Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from the 10th-15th August.” This shows that the mandate that SYPALA holds as it is regarded in high esteem.

There were various speakers and a wide range of themes. For instance, there was a presentation by Tom Palmer on The Concept, History and Importance of Freedom. Mr. Palmer’s take away point was that, citizens shouldn’t stop demanding the rule of law from their governments and that the onus was on them to ensure that they held government accountable and that property rights, properly defined, defendable and divestible (transferable) is one of the fundamental pillars for modern economic development. He noted also that Parliaments are not the sole repository of laws as there are many customary laws that make more sense although not implemented by Parliament.

Dr. Manuel Araujo also gave a lecture on the history of Mozambique, the fundamentals of economics and later The Political Economy of Regulation: How Regulation Kills Innovation and Enterprise in which he argued for deregulation and minimal governmental control to give rise to more entrepreneurial activities in a nation.

The problem with inefficient governments was also tackled to some extent with Dr.Mike Duru, Economics Professor at the Ahmadu Bello University stating that, “Every Nigerian is almost a municipality or community on his own, providing the basics that governments should have provided yet pays monumental taxes to the government.”

SYAPALA 2012 in Mozambique; – Participants from Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and United States

SYPALA for 2012 took off at the Catholic University in Quelimane, Mozambique at the Faculty of Social and Political Science.  This event drew nearly 200 participants working together on the theme Africa: From Slavery to Freedom, From Poverty to Prosperity. For the next few days, this event became the capital of debate and reflection on the economy, citizenship, freedom, politics and development in Africa.

The speakers slated for this event included Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, IMANI and SYPALA President, Henriques Viola, researcher and Executive Director of the Center for Mozambican and International Studies, Andy Eyschen, co-founder and director of the Language of Liberty Institute, Antonio Alberto da Silva Francisco Research Director at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies (IESE) and Associate Professor of Economics at the University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). At the end of the conference, SYPALA, Outreach director, Adedayo Thomas, donated some books to the Faculty of Social and Political Science at the University and thanked them for hosting such an important conference which sought to destroy their common enemy, weak development.

SYPALA 2013 in Kenya: Participants from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Netherlands, Tanzania

Under the theme “Building Today for a Prosperous Africa”, SYPALA 2013 took off at the Kabarak University, Kenya. Questions about poverty and underdevelopment plaguing the African continent and what the way forward is pervaded the activities of the 3-day programme with young participants across the continent made to think hard about dealing with these issues.

Among the notable speakers at the conference were Professor Allen Katwalo (Dean) of Kabarak University, Gareth Bloor, Cape Town representative in Mayoral Committee for Economic and Environment Planning, Rejoice Ngwenya, a Zimbabwean liberal Democrat and Deman Yusuf, a lecturer at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. The others were Olumayowa Okediran, a board member of Students for Liberty (SFL) and Brian Stout, a Masters Student in Netherland.

Tom Palmer, Executive Vice-President for International Programmes at Atlas, spoke on the World Financial Crisis: How this is not the fault of Capitalism, and said that the aim of the conference was not to proselytize participants with dogmas of monotonous ideology but to stimulate participants to think hard about solving the problems of the continent, open their minds to the challenge of creating institutions that make laws work, as well as to challenge the claims and ideologies of politicians.

He also bemoaned the tight controls at borders frustrating inter and intra-regional trade. According to Palmer, “…What is African about stationing a machine gun at the border drawn by the British and French…why is it easier for people in Nigeria to buy goods from Americans or British than people from Ghana, which is almost next door or the Republic of Benin? The reality is that if a Nigerian tries to buy goods from Ghana, he will meet security agencies with machine guns and have to pay certain amount of money without which the goods and services cannot move.”

Taking off from where Palmer left, Kofi Bentil Vice-President of IMANI urged the participants to question principles and ideologies that had retarded growth and limited freedom of people to prosper. He spoke at length on What history has taught us about development, prosperity and how to get it.

Speaking on New Media Tools and Liberty in Africa: Perspective, Japheth Omojuwa, a notable blogger urged participants against the backdrop of the youthful population of the continent (50% of Africa’s population are youth), to explore the internet and social media to promote freedom and entrepreneurship in Africa.

Adedayo Thomas, Director of Outreach at, argued that government must not interfere in the economic affairs of the people. He stated that the responsibility of the government remained to create laws that would protect the interest of the market.

As usual, the conference did not end without great testimonies from participants. “I didn’t know this kind of forum exists before now. I was just opportune to be part of this and I will spread the message to my friends and Kikuyu people”, says Mildred Akoth, a student of Kenya Institute of Management, Nairobi.

SYPALA 2014 in South Africa: – Participants from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, United States, Cameroon, Tanzania

The most recent chapter of SYPALA took off in South Africa at the University Of Cape Town Graduate Business School. This event was a partnership between African and the Independent Entrepreneurship Group (Ineng) who co-sponsored the event with Global Shapers Cape Town Hub as part of their Entrepreneurs in Public Policy programme. The theme for this year’s seminar was, Creating the Foundations for a Free African Society driven by Entrepreneurs. The focus of this was to look specifically at the African context and how entrepreneurs and their advocates across the continent can unite for a more enabling policy environment. Africa’s growth potential is massive, but for broad based benefits needs to throw off the shackles of both crony capitalism and government overreach, which undermines the rule of law and sound institutions. Genuine free enterprise needs to be secured through an enabling environment for all.

Some speakers of the event included, Mr. Leon Louw, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and Executive Director of the Free Market Foundation.  Chofor Che Second Assistant Prefect at Government of Cameroon, Deman Yusuf, a lecturer at the University of Dodoma, Kris Mauren co-founder and Executive Director of Acton Institute for the study of Religion and Liberty, Franklin Cudjoe IMANI President and SYPALA President and Outreach Director, Adedayo Thomas as well as Rejoice Ngwenya, President of COMALISO, Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions based in Zimbabwe. Also in attendance were Temba Nolutshungu Director at the Free Market Foundation, Sheraan Amod tech entrepreneur and founder of Personera, Xolani Nyali, Global Shaper and founder of Pan African Youth Dialogue, Ruben Richards CEO at Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rapelang Rabana, Global Shaper and Founder & CEO of Rekindle Learning. Aksoile Foluke Damilola of, Moronfolu Adeniyi, President of African Students Liberty Organization, David Duarte CEO at Treeshake and Garreth Bloor, Global Shaper.

At the end of each annual program, there is always the motivation to do more to help the youth as the feedback from this program is always so encouraging.  “I’ve looked helplessly at life on these streets every morning, where kids don’t go to school and parents don’t go to work. I’ve looked on and thought that there was no hope for these folk, and bowed my head in shame. But after the first week of August 2009 at the Students and Young Professionals African Liberty Academy facilitated by IMANI, I believe in hope for these folk. I believe their hope is me and I am their hope. If only I will stop thinking about the problems and work on the solutions.”


We are particularly grateful to Atlas Network and the Cato Institute for their support over the years in delivering what ordinarily should be funded and supported by African entrepreneurs, foundations and governments.

Why you should be at SYPALA 2015

I assure you that the seminar faculty as in previous seminars, will not twist your arm to adopt a particular perspective. They have knowledge to share, and questions to explore with you. You will find that this intellectual perspective has many strands- sometimes multiple route to similar answers, sometimes divergent answers to the challenge at hand, so wherever you are coming from, there should be much here – and beyond – that challenges you to think about things differently and to try new ideas. How much you take from this experience is up to you, but we hope the seminar is either a beginning or a renewal

Sadly, we have only 30 free tickets for all the lectures. If you are interested, please email Zakita Maame Bentum at or call her 0573166922.

Yours sincerely,

Franklin Cudjoe

Founding President, IMANI