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Written by Stephen Oyedemi, member, SFL African Executive Board.

Recent policy actions of the Federal Government of Nigeria make one wonder if we live in a sane, democratic society or under the control of some autocratic, intolerant rulers. In Nigeria, like most, if not all other countries, it is hard to earn a living; and as if that is not enough, Nigerians have to go through a lot of stress to have access to their hard earned money through an increasingly bureaucratic and inefficient banking system. This is evident in ridiculous limits on daily bank withdrawals as well as long queues at malfunctioning ATMs, meaning so much productive hours are wasted every day in Nigeria as a result of negligence.

Early this year, a lot of Nigerian students studying outside the country started to experience very serious financial challenges, not because their sponsors didn’t have the money to provide for their education but because their government back home had made it almost impossible for money to be sent to them. Today, you cannot send money through the Western Union, and to receive is also a problem. I had an ugly experience trying to help a friend of mine (who was in Nigeria for few days) receive money through the Western Union; we went from bank to bank with no success. The policy now is that to receive money through that medium, you have to have an account with the bank and the Naira equivalent would be dropped there. It took more than normal for him to finally withdraw it. How on earth do you expect someone visiting the country for just few days to open an account? He told me that in his country, it takes less than 10mins to collect money using the same medium and it is paid in the currency it is sent.

Now, this situation is getting worse. Last week, Guaranty Trust Bank announced a reduction in monthly withdrawal limit on customers’ debit cards outside Nigeria from $500 to $250, and now to $100. 2 days ago (October 17), according the punch newspaper, some banks have suspended ATM card usage abroad. The excessive urge of the government to control the forex market hasn’t yielded any positive result but has only made life more difficult for Nigerians; it is the reason why  we don’t have a single forex market.  Initially, it was limit on withdrawal, then stoppage of forex outward transfers through Western Union and likes, then withdrawal limit of $100 outside Nigeria. Obviously, what we should expect to see in the coming days and months is more encroachment on our freedoms. While it is understandable that there is scarcity of forex in the Nigerian economy, it is not responsible of the government and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to infringe on the rights of Nigerians to take part in international trade, to buy books online, to get an education, eat some imported food or have a vacation abroad if they so choose as long as their money is earned and not stolen. The focus of government should be on encouraging exports and making it easy for investors to invest in local production of commodities currently being imported most.

Buying Nigerian made commodities is good, and it is alright to encourage and educate people to do so; in fact, I now buy Nigerian made things much more than before as long as it is quality enough. But, you don’t force people directly or indirectly to consume a particular commodity; there is the role of individual preference in consumption choices and it is important to preserve people’s liberty to consume what they desire as long as they earn their money.


While these policies may not directly affect average Nigerians on the street, it should concern us all because, if not rejected, more of it will come in the future. Maybe tomorrow, the daily withdrawal limit on ATMs in Nigeria will be further reduced or law will be enacted to stop us from eating chickens, ponmo, apples, chocolates, or any other thing.

Nigerians are strangulated by bad policies everyday: this is reflected in bad roads, poor health care and falling standard of education. The focus of government should be to encourage an enabling environment for private sector-led solutions and to effectively protect the life and properties of every Nigerian. Recent actions/policies of the Nigerian government and banks badly affect Nigerian students, home and abroad and are therefore unacceptable. Hence, it is important that we point out that Nigerians are #FreeToSpend their hard-earned money on whatever they chose to, to transact legally with whoever they chose to and to do business with ease, as long as their actions are within the context of the law.


Report by Oluwafemi Ogunjobi. Chairperson, SFL African Executive Board.

On October 7 through 8, 2016, young people from Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Ghana, and USA gathered at hall of  Ibadan Business School for the 2016 ASFL West African Regional Conference. It is the second time ASFL will host the West African Regional Conference after the first one in 2013. This time, participants were required to apply in order to attend the two day conference. In the end, 206 of the best applicants were invited to attend, of which 140 of them made the conference.

Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, the Conference Director and the new Chairperson of the ASFL Executive Board, gave the opening remarks. SFL Director of Academic Programs, Kyle Walker gave the first presentation titled Arguing about Marx.

Kyle is a former Marxist, who explained what he believes is wrong with Marx’s thought and why he turned away from it. First, he explained that Marx thought socialism, in which the state owns the means of production, would happen and once the government puts everything in place, the state would fall away to execute communism. However, Kyle does not think that Marx’s theory explains why the government would give up its power to have a communist society.

Second, Marx considers wage labor as a sort of prostitution due to selling oneself. Marxism considers that socialism cannot happen without capitalism first. According to Marx, Capitalism promotes alienation not just from wealth or ability to own but from each other and our humanity. However, competition allows workers look for better wages and forces capitalists to pay more.

Emeka Adimmadu, a Professor of Evolutionary Economics delivered on Africapitalism: The Future of Africa’s Economic Development. Adimmadu argued that Africa’s quest for liberty and freedom must begin with reform of institutions and mechanism that support poverty reduction, political pluralism and widespread prosperity and a radical free market economy. He explained that the empirical relationship between governance, and economic freedom makes a case for liberalism. Africa is unique in character and history and free market capitalism must embrace Africa’s tradition and cultural values in other to generate the clout necessary for growth.

Linda Kavuka, advocate at Kenyan High Court and Executive Board Member gave a discursive lecture on How Gender-based Stereotypes Limit Individual Liberty and Expression. Linda gave a practical explanation of why individuals should do away with stereotypes, and stand up for what they believe in irrespective of gender.


Through a recorded presentation, Kalu Aja, a fiscal conservative delivered on: How Welfare Destroys the Economy. According to Aja, the intentions of welfare are noble but government policy must be judged by its effects not its intentions. Welfare does not end poverty. Poor families drag down any economy, even as more and more resources are committed.

‘Welfare creates a culture of dependency and entitlement. It removes the incentive for active labour force to seek paid employment and penalizes marriage which is proven as a way to escape poverty. Welfare drains the fiscal purse of the government, reducing funds for other areas of the economy.’ he said.

Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, ASFL Programs Associate spoke on How Foreign Aids Hurt Local Growth in Africa. Emeka explained that foreign aids, coupled with stiff government regulations have made it difficult to business in Africa, adding that aids may be seen as a kind intervention on the surface, but has terrible economic consequences.

Day two of the event saw Olumayowa Okediran, SFL Director of African Programs give the first address of the day. Olumayowa lectured on: ‘Regional Integration in Africa’. He illustrated how the current boundaries were colonial systems that have destroyed our unity and pride as Africans. They continue to hinder us from exploiting potential inter-state trade and movement which could boost not only our individual economies but Africa as a whole. The barriers have allowed corrupt officials to thrive.

Olumide Makanjuola, the Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), spoke extempore on: Human Rights Abuse And How It Tears Africa Apart. Makanjuola presented a very strong argument on LGBT rights and perspective. According to him, oppression should not be granted a form or structure as it has no place in our society.  He added that people should not look at choice of sexuality as lifestyle, as LGBTs are individuals with human rights. He stressed that LGBT right is a sensitive topic in any African society and should not be ignored.

Martins Oloja, Editor at The Guardian, Nigeria explored the topic; ‘Using Media and Communication Tools to Promote Human Rights’. Oloja explained the power of media especially social media as a powerful tool available for the promotion of freedom and justice in the society. He stressed the need for participants to focus attention on how media can help prevent abuse of rights and promote justice in the society.

The final speaker, Jonah Akufai, who represented Adeolu Ogunrombi, a Drug Policy Reform Advocate discussed the topic: ‘The Need For African Governments To Encourage Open Debate For Drug Policy Reforms’. Akufai did justice to the topic by citing the needs of Africa government on open dialogue for various reforms of drug policy.

Lunch was served on both days of the conference and participants also got to take away SFL T-shirts, books including Why Liberty and Voices from Africa, published by SFL and Atlas Network respectively, and a CD on the Foundations of a Free Society from the Institute for Economic Affairs. The award-winning film “Poverty Inc” was screened at the conference, with partnership with Eastern African Policy Center, Nairobi, Kenya. ‘Hell or High Water’ – a short Nigerian film challenging the narratives about sexuality and spirituality was also screened at the event, courtesy of The Initiative for Equal Right. The documentary, the 100th Man, which portrays the relationship between profit and service provision, was also aired at the conference. The WARC 2016 evening socials at ID Restaurant and Bar marked the end of the annual conference, where participants were able to network and socialize.

Special thanks go to Atlas Network and Students for Liberty for the tremendous support that made the event possible. This conference attracted some of the best minds in the region, who have been empowered to act as champions of liberty and join our efforts to grow the libertarian community in Africa.


By Ifeoluwa Adedeji, Ohio University.

Acacias in the late afternoon light, Serengeti, Africa

“The main reason why Africa’s people are poor is because their leaders have made this choice.”  Mill’s first sentence in the ‘introduction’ of the book succinctly lays out his central message. With a per capita income 50 percent less than that of the next poorest region (South Asia), sub-Saharan Africa’s growth has lagged since independence. Many reasons have been put forward for the region’s slow development – a lack of human and government capacity, poor infrastructure and trade access, the effects of too little (or too much) foreign aid, the legacy of arbitrary colonial boundaries, low productivity or laziness or culture, climate, and geography. Many African leaders blame the rest of the world for African poverty. Yet, as Mills contends, African leaders – not a lack of capital, access to world markets, or technical expertise – are to blame for the continent’s underdevelopment.

Before going ahead to lay out his points, he admits possible limitations in the reception of his work – being a white South African and representing a foundation backed by the private sector. However, he more or less condemns any understanding of his work from these positions, arguing that that is in fact the reason why Africa has not developed: the perfection of the art of externalizing blames.

His experience working in and out of the field and across different geographies is quite impressive. First, he brings a private sector perspective: prosperity is built by business. Second, he has a remarkably wide international experience. He uses relevant examples from across East and South Asia, from Latin America, from the new societies of the former Soviet Bloc and from post-conflict situations such as in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Rwanda and Liberia. Third, he has worked on both sides of the fence. He has hands-on experience of African policy-making and its underlying politics. Finally, and crucially, he faces reality. This is not a book preoccupied by political correctness and a bias to optimism: the debilitating curse of all official analyses of Africa. Chapter by chapter, he examines the African situation, the misdirection of government responses, and challenges the role of external actors.

For Mills, the ‘flat’ world of globalization should have been a leverage for Africa’s ascendancy; this should have been Africa’s time. The paradox is also sharp and jabbing: what should be Africa’s strength and comparative advantages – the youth population, oil wealth, and agricultural potential – are unfortunately weaknesses and the clog in the wheel of progress. Resources have become curses and irresponsibility has become institutionalized by government.

The rhetoric of government analysis of the problem with Africa demonstrates its alienation from the society and suggest the need for help. For some leaders, capacity has broken down and discipline is a distant desirable. When this is viewed with the knowledge that African leaders/intellectuals are no less intelligent or smart than their counterparts in other parts of the world (where sound policies have worked and sheer political will has driven the state in the direction of development), suspicion molds. Then again, lack of (financial) resources. The response of the international community has also been embracing: there is a need to give more and more to Africa.

There is also a withering critique of the latest official fad for “fixing fragile states”. What Mills proposes in its place is an emphasis upon the responsibility of local leadership. Africa’s leaders have not been trapped in stagnation – they have chosen it. They have done this because stagnation has often been to their advantage: the retention of power is easier and the rewards of personal plunder have exceeded those of generalized growth. As Mills argues, the most amazing thing is that Africa’s leaders have been allowed by their citizens to get away with such choices. They have been able to do so, he suggests, by the tradition of “big man” rule and by the lazy ideology of victimhood that has enabled the externalization of responsibility for problems.

MillsAfricaPoorMills believes that the key to development is opening up trade and markets, rather than tightening government control and regulation. He cites Kaunda’s legacy of government intervention: a civil service geared to protectionism and regulation at all costs; a private sector that rewards insiders and discourages independent entrepreneurship; socialism. Pointing out lessons to be learned in Japan’s decline, a decline of investment against savings, and debates toward Keynesian economics that followed the 2008 global economic crisis, he shows that there is no straightforward, clear path, that markets are irrational and indeed can ‘boom and bust’. Nevertheless, they have been much more efficient than government in creating wealth and achieving growth and development.

Mills’ book is essentially a wake-up call to Africans to break free from the neo-Marxist conceptual framework that has protected the plundering state from reform. Profit for business is not intrinsically exploitative; the big state is not the ally of the poor; the global economy is not a threat to be opposed, but a market to be entered. The opportunities created by globalization and technology are immense and within the reach of countries should they align the local environment to be receptive and actively participatory.

Without any doubt, Mills has offered a valid counter-position to the explanation and analyses of African leaders and the evaluations and policy focus of the international community of donors and ‘development experts’. This position, however, is not new. It is the same view that Claude Ake expressed in his 1996 book ‘Democracy and Development in Africa’: development has not failed, it has just never really been on the agenda, and political conditions are the greatest impediment. Mills’ arrival at this same conclusion more than a decade later shows how deeply important the situation is, and how urgent the call. There is nothing more compelling than to see two people from two different methodological thrusts – induction from experience and analytic and statistical deduction – arrive at similar conclusions.

Mills’ argument for market liberalism is well presented and supported. Governments have done a poor job of stirring the economy toward growth; almost everything has been ‘officialized’. In any way, one does not wish away rain just because floods may occur and properties damaged (even these can be contained). The market succeeds better than the state in rewarding innovation, creativity, and excellence. The state’s proper role should be to ensure institutions that guarantee access and equal play, and eliminate entry barriers.

African leaders are not unaware of the problems of their societies. They are not less educated, to the extent that education is a standard for knowledge and problem-solving. They are not conservative – in fact, they travel far and wide to countries where policies work and benefit immensely from globalization, technology, and trade. It seems they fear that they may be overrun if conditions change, and so maintain the status quo.

On the other hand, Africa’s people are locked into positions more complex than the perception that they allow their government to get away with their self-aggrandizing actions. They oppose the government’s politics, but have no real electoral power. They are skeptical of market liberalism, since that’s the cause of their poverty (or so the government has made them believe). Their situation is similar to the prisoners in Plato’s allegory of the cave. They battle appearances, not reality.

The message to African leaders is clear: Seek not what the international community can do for you, rather focus on what you can do for yourselves. Development will not start from China, Europe, America, or any other place; it begins from home.

Written by ASFL Local Coordinator, Hendrix Nkamicaniye.

When the opposition and civil society voiced their discontent and grievances about President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a controversial third term, they believed that the major donors would come to their defense. The international community has done so to some extent, for instance, through media coverage of the crisis, hosting refugees and releasing human rights abuse reports, which the current regime often considers as biased. 


Security Council votes to approve a 200-strong UN police contingent for Burundi.

On the one hand, local civil society still believe the United Nations and the African Union have not done enough when it comes to sending peacekeeping units and human rights monitors.  On the other hand, the current Burundian government sees the deployment of peacekeepers as an attempt to topple the elected government. Their defense is one of state sovereignty. Some among the opposition and civil society think that the international community is lacking the will, not the means, to address the issue.    It does not seem unreasonable to argue that some Security Council member states may sometimes intervene or not intervene without the moral duty of protecting the victims, rather to pursue their geopolitical interests. The divergent reactions of Security Council members over the Burundian conflict may place a question mark as to their intentions.

More importantly, local human rights activists ought to focus on violations of human rights of both state actors and non-state actors. In such a way, all parties are given mutual responsibility, since all the participants may conceivably take part in escalating the conflict.    

The Burundian regime needs to understand that human rights concerns may sometimes outweigh the principle of sovereignty and thus legitimize external intervention. Moreover, those who seek to redistribute the power and privilege, or those who try to maintain the status quo, can use non-violent means, as war puts innocent civilians at risk. These people have suffered a lot in the name of democracy.   

The major powers need to be impartial in their quest to reconcile all the sides in the conflict, and should never be seen to be tipping toward one party over another. It will be difficult, but it is certainly not too late, to find sustainable solutions to the Burundian crisis in these divided times.


African Students For Liberty announces the launch of the ASFL Open Online Local Coordinator Program  (OOLCP).

The African Students For Liberty (ASFL) Local Coordinators Program is the premier program for actively advancing the ideas of free markets and individual liberty on college & campuses. ASFL Local Coordinators (LCs) are the face of liberty on their campuses. They are the muscle of the movement, empowering students in their areas to defend the ideas of liberty. This local program seeks to identify strong student leaders to spread the ideas of individual liberty, self-reliance and economic freedom by starting new student groups, organizing events to promote these ideas, resourcing student groups and identifying and mentoring other vibrant students.

These young individuals are dedicated to spreading the ideas of human dignity, individual and economic freedom, and the ability to pursue one’s happiness without coercion.

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If you are a student in Africa, the ASFL Open Online Local Coordinator Program is an amazing opportunity for you to join the network of young people whose efforts are constantly changing the world. Also, students who could not complete the training program in the past for different reasons can access our training materials, complete the assigned tasks and eventually become part of our Leadership in their regions. 

African Students For Liberty therefore provides a platform for African Students to generate and share ideas that will lead to a peaceful and liberated Africa. ASFL exists to provide support for pro-liberty students and student groups across the continent, by providing them with training and resources for the advancement of liberty in Africa.

Some of the Efforts Of Our Local Coordinators:

  • November 2014, ASFL Leaders at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria hosted Nigerian Leadership Forum of more than 50 student leaders from more than 6 Colleges.
  • In July 2014, African Students For Liberty (ASFL) hosted the first ever African Students For Liberty Conference at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and recorded 1,180
  • In 2015, ASFL also hosted Southern and Eastern Africa Regional Conferences in Malawi, and Kenya and had 1,276 Attendees at these conferences.
  • The year 2015 also witnessed several Leadership Fora and Tabling events held at various campuses across the continent. Examples are; February2015 Liberty Forum at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria with 117 registered students, and also a Tabling event at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria.
  • December 2015, , hundreds of students gathered at the expansive auditorium of Ajayi Crowther University, Nigeria for the second annual Liberty Debate organized by the ASFL Campus group led by LC Adedayo Adetayo. The event was tagged: Acquiring Entrepreneurial Skills: The Way Forward to Solve Unemployment among Graduates and Youths in Nigeria
  • January 2016, ASFL group in Burundi led by LC Aimable Manirakiza hosted the first ever Liberty Lecture at the University of Bujumbura Light Campus, Kinindo with 127 attendees.
  • On February 6, 2016 at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, LC Adeola Bamgboye, organized the first ever Liberty & Entrepreneurship Workshop that registered over 50 students.
  • January 2016, the ASFL group at the University of Abuja, Nigeria also held a Tabling Event that signed up more than 50 students.

We seek to change the world by expanding the number of people who support the cause of liberty, developing more leaders to be effective advocates of liberty, and empowering them to act to bring about a freer future, a world with economic, social and intellectual freedom for all people.

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There are no applications to the ASFL Open Online Local Coordinators Program (OOLCP).  The OOLCP is open and free, and participants will go through a rigorous training process on a range of topics, including leadership, communication, social change, new and old media, student organizing, activism, organizing events, and others.

To get started, please email Chukwuemeka Ezeugo [email protected] as soon as possible.

Written by ASFL Senior Local Coordinator, Stephen Oyedemi.

On this International Youth Day, I want to congratulate every youth like myself for the powerful and wonderful roles we play in the society and all the moves, small and big that we are taking to create a better world. We are indeed the engine of growth and development in every society.
The African continent is endowed with enormous human capital – diverse, beautiful and vibrant people. Unfortunately, the continent has not been able to maximise its resources to position it at the level it should have reached by now. Across the continent, senseless wars are been fought, low percentage of children have access to basic education, and many are dying of malnutrition and curable diseases. Corruption and nepotism have seriously hindered growth and people’s freedoms are stifled and denied by oppressive governments.


Civil rights violation is still a major issue and as African youths, we should confront it. In some parts of Africa, people born with albinism are targeted, killed and used for rituals.; these people like every other people who should have their rights to live and fulfil their purpose without abuse and attacks. The dignity of women should be paramount and they should be free to choose what is and what is not important to them. Women shouldn’t be humiliated and forced into early marriage as it is especially prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Niger and Chad, 75% and 68% respectively of women are married off before they are 18. The rights of women to maternal health and reproductive rights should be entrenched in the consciousness of our society and people should be free to choose how they want to live their lives as long as they do not prevent others from doing the same. Everyone should be free from abuse of whatever kind from the government or any other setup in our society.

Peace is an essential component of overall human development and flourishing. When there is peace, people will be enabled to trade more provided there are no restrictions to trade; by so doing there will be widespread prosperity. Too many wars have been fought, too many damages have been done, and it is time to look away from the destructive temptation of conflicts and wars. As African youths, peace should matter to us and we should advocate it with our character everywhere we find ourselves. We should be embodiments of what we advocate.

Our individual liberty is extremely important and within it lies our right to define our value and belief systems, what we want and what we do not want, how we desire to be treated and not to be treated, to own properties, to quench our thirst for knowledge without barriers and to live our life without fear or intimidation, as long as we do not obstruct others in their expression of these same rights. This is why liberty and peace should matter to us as African youths; and we should continually pursue the values of liberty, peace and development in our communities and countries to ensure a greater future.

History has taught us that vigilance is paramount in ensuring and preserving freedom. Therefore we must continually challenge authorities in order to conquer oppression, dominance and injustice.
Once again, Happy International Youth Day!

On June 17th and 18th, 2016, libertarians from Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Nigeria and USA converged at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa’s Jubilee Hall for the third annual ASFL East African Regional Conference. The event was the first of its kind in the continent as participants were required to apply in order to attend the two day conference. In the end, 109 of the best applicants were invited to attend.

Linda Kavuka, Chairperson of the ASFL Executive Board and host of the event, gave the opening remarks followed by a representative from Catholic University. SFL African Programs Director Olumayowa Okediran then gave the first presentation on barriers to movement and trade. He illustrated how the current boundaries were colonial systems that have destroyed our unity and pride as Africans. They continue to hinder us from exploiting potential inter-state trade and movement which could boost not only our individual economies but Africa as a whole. The barriers have allowed corrupt officials to thrive.

From left to right: Stella Nderitu (SFL Member, Kenya) Joseph Kwanya (Local Coordinator, Kenya) and Aimable Manirakize (Local Coordinator, Burundi).

From left to right: Stella Nderitu (SFL Member, Kenya) Joseph Kwanya (Local Coordinator, Kenya) and Aimable Manirakize (Local Coordinator, Burundi).

Next, Local Coordinator Teklemariam Bekit shared a rather moving personal experience concerning immigrants and the challenges they face in their host countries using Eastern Africa as a case study. He expressed his disapproval of the repatriation of the Somali refugees at Dadaab and instead suggested that the refugees should be absorbed into the community and granted asylum.

June Arunga graced the event with her presence and chose to share her personal take on liberal ideas which was not only an African perspective but a practical one as well. She made reference to the slang word ‘tunyitane’ which in her interpretation means ‘let us get each other.’ Urging the audience to apply this attitude in their daily lives, June reasoned that doing so will help to promote a peaceful society in which mutual understanding endures despite differences of opinion.

Mike Rotich, Co-founder of the Eastern African Policy Center, shared his take on the challenges that Africa faces in the area of regional integration. He argued that there are too many regional markets which fail to  accomplish their objectives yet continue to receive money from their member countries. Vice President of Atlas Network Tom Palmer gave the keynote and final presentation of the day. He gave us an overview on liberty with respect to the present state of Africa. He broke down the major principles of free markets and theirbenefits to the audience, which he has addressed in his book, The Morality of Capitalism. (more…)

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We are receiving applications to the African Students For Liberty Executive Board (AEB). Applications are welcome from highly qualified candidates who currently work with, or have previously worked with Students For Liberty international in the capacity of a Local Coordinator or member of the African Executive Board. Anyone who has contributed to the growth of the Liberty movement within the continent is also free to apply. This is a voluntary position therefore, applicants must be university students or recent graduates of not more than three (3) years, who are willing to dedicate their time for a freer society.

Successful candidates will be invited for a two-day Executive Board Retreat in Nigeria, where they get to meet each other and discuss their plans for their Regions in the year 2016/2017.

Board members serve as Regional Directors for ASFL, coordinating the activities of Local Coordinators within their regions of operation, and also make sure that Regional Conferences attract the best minds who commit themselves to the promotion of freer societies. A board member is also obligated to contribute at least, one blog post each month, on contemporary socio-political issues affecting the continent. Board members are to serve for one year, after which they can either re-apply to be on the Board, or move on to greater heights.

Are you committed to the cause of freedom? Do you have what it takes to promote a freer Africa? Then, click here to apply for a position on the ASFL African Executive Board. Application closes on the 7th of August, 2016.

Good luck!


Mr. Olumayowa Okediran, the ASFL Programs Director, with Linda Kavuka, Chairlady of the 2015 ASFL African Executive Board.

Credit: Breitbart.com

Burundi is among the smallest economies in the world, recently ranked by International Monetary Fund as the poorest country in the world. The ongoing political turmoil was sparked a decision of the ruling party in April 2015 to enable the President to seek a third term in office. The alarming violence which followed in the wake of this decision has caught the attention of the international media and civil society.

The civil war of 1993 to 2005 weakened Burundi’s economy, its legal system, and endangered transparency in public affairs This African country is now at crossroads, and seems to be prone to another conflict.  Many commentators have been more concerned about the political aspect of the current crisis, ignoring the crucial economic dimension which is central to appreciating the true nature of the conflict.

In fact, corruption which affects many countries in Africa did not  spare Burundi. According to the Transparency International Report on Africa, dated December 2015 (PEOPLE and CORRUPTION: Africa survey 2015, page 21) the courts and police in Burundi rank high on the corruption scale with 16 to 30 percent of respondents admitting to having paid bribes to the police

Unfortunately, most of the bribe givers are ordinary people in urban areas who try to get licenses, certificates or seek to resolve land disputes, especially in their struggle to meet their basic necessities.

Another sector wherein corruption is prevalent is the public sector where job opportunities reflect political, rather than competitive, trends. Despite that, in Burundi exists some formal channels of job recruitment, but many workers are still hired based on their political aspirations. In April 2015, the growing number of discontented graduates and students who opposed the government’s way of recruiting, responded to the call of the opposition and civil society to protest the President’s desire to be reelected for a third term. 

This political resentment among youth in form of protest has been mainly obvious in the urban areas, especially in the slums of the capital Bujumbura. Youth alienated from the ruling party in Bujumbura took the lead in these demonstrations chanting anti-president slogans. Although it was not like the recent protest in Brazil against Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff over the Petrobas oil company corruption scandal, it still shows how the citizens can challenge the elites’ decisions, asking for the rule of law and transparency.

It is significant to note that the above tendency of recruitment has been endemic to all successive governments in Burundi, which spurred unequal share in public sector between the political clients and non-political partisans.

As stated by Rachel Strohm on 6 February 2012 in his article CORRUPTION NARRATIVES IN BURUNDI: “corruption could delegitimize fragile post –conflict governments and creates grievances that could spark a return to conflict”. For instance,  OLUCOME (Anti-corruption  and  Economic  Malpractice Observatory), a local anti-corruption agency, has expressed  a  deep concern over the nickel deposit in the Musongati region, alleging the government is granting mining licenses, by way of a non-transparent process, to international companies. In so doing, OLUCOME as well as the media have enhanced the political accountability of the government as well as the public awareness of government mineral policy.   

According to a World Bank report from April 2011, the youth population in Burundi which is younger than 15 years, constitutes 39 percent of the population. Thus, this nickel reserve, which comprises 6 percent of the world’s total, ought to be used to tackle growing unemployment and support the government to meet the immense challenges to sustainable development. Clearly, tangible efforts should be made to improve official transparency in this mineral field as well as in public job recruitment, which requires the state to show the openness and allow the media and civil society to inform the general public of what happens within the public sector.   

Eventually, the youth will be more concerned with economic issues rather than political disputes. However, the political will and enabling environment are central to redress all these issues which impede this nation nicknamed the Country of Honey and Milk.  Both parties responsible for this political situation in Burundi ought to see that dialogue make more sense than violence, and sit around the negotiation table at the upcoming discussions on in Arusha, Tanzania. 

Credit: commondreams.org

The following was written by Pretoria-based ASFL Executive Board Member Martin van Staden.

When I joined African Students For Liberty in the middle of 2014, I had no prior involvement in any kind of civil society activism. I had focused on academics during school and spent the majority of my first and second years at university finding myself politically and ideologically. Shortly after reading Murray Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty and becoming a libertarian, was I approached to join ASFL. And only a few months after that was I introduced to the vibrant classically liberal think tank scene in South Africa.

With a great desire to see social change in my country and Africa as a whole, I was glad to see that South Africa had various institutes working toward the achievement of individual freedom, the rule of law, and emancipation through property rights. Among them was the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa, which was founded in the 1970s to combat the oppressive and paternalistic economic policies of the South African Apartheid government.

ASFL and the FMF quickly developed a good working relationship, not least because of their co-affiliation with the international Atlas Network. ASFL has contributed to the establishment of the FMF Youth and the FMF Youth has provided support for ASFL activities.

The importance of relationships such as this cannot be understated in light of the leftward trend of South African public policy. The pool of classically liberal, economically conscious youth is rapidly declining, as high school economics makes no mention of the Austrian school, and the intelligentsia are increasingly considering economics as a ‘Western construct’. This is true not only for South Africa, but the lack of young freedom-lovers has been a problem throughout the African continent for decades.

I am able to count the amount of think tanks dedicated to individual liberty and free markets on my hands. Those think tanks dedicated to expanding the power of government, on the other hand, are so numerous that one would need to create an alphabetical index.

This is why the leaders identified and developed by African Students For Liberty should not be seen by liberal think tanks as ‘part of ASFL’ exclusively, but rather as a resource which they must invest in with an eye to absorbing these leaders into their own structures.

This is what the Free Market Foundation did.

Less than a year after hearing about them for the first time, I was offered an internship. During October and December 2015, and January 2016, I worked at their offices in Johannesburg and saw just how important free market activism and lobbying is within the African context. I was able to assist with various tasks which opened some of their staff’s time up to devote to even bigger projects. My writing skills were, and continue to be, put to good use by the FMF, which like other classically liberal institutes suffers from a quantitative lack of skilled and passionate writers.

The Institute of Race Relations – most likely the oldest think tank in Africa and certainly the oldest classically liberal one – is also investing in the youth. Frans Cronje, CEO of the IRR, recently said on The Renegade Report on CliffCentral.com that the Institute’s doors are wide open to young classical liberals who want to get involved.

However, other African think tanks are allowing this opportunity to pass them by.

Students For Liberty’s mission is to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty. This mission does not exist in a vacuum, nor does it exist for SFL’s benefit. These ‘leaders of liberty’ are meant to leave SFL and contribute to the spread of liberal ideas – indeed, they are the ones who will eventually bring about a freer future.


Martin van Staden, Southern African Regional Director, ASFL.

They have been equipped with the moral and practical knowledge which free market think tanks in Africa desperately need to influence their governments to liberalize the market. Whereas think tanks would have to train their new recruits from the ground up in the ideas and philosophy of freedom, ASFL has taken up this noble job. However, when our leaders leave ASFL, they are often allowed to go to waste, and are not absorbed by pro-liberty civil society.

African Students For Liberty is the single largest libertarian organization of any kind on the African continent. It is a producer of resources where there is a great demand for what it has to offer. Our leaders are what Africa needs!