George Ayittey

Ghanaian economist, author, and president of the Free Africa Foundation

Sub-Saharan Africa

George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist known for his argument that “Africa is poor because she is not free.” He asserts that the corruption of autocrats and the complacency of citizens are the bedrock problems in the majority of African states. Dr. Ayittey calls for democratic government, debt reexamination, modernized infrastructure, free market economics, and free trade to promote development. He founded the Free Africa Foundation in 1993 to serve as a catalyst for reform, and was named one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” in 2008 and “Top 100 Global Thinkers” in 2009. He has written several books, including Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyrants in Africa and Around the World, published in 2011. He also serves on the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) International Council. In 2015, along with HRF president Thor Halvorssen, he spoke out against an impending performance by rapper Nicki Minaj for Angolan dictator José Eduardo dos Santos. “Her rank hypocrisy when it comes to caring about justice in one place but not in Angola eliminates any shred of credibility Minaj may have to opine on matters of race or rights in the future,” Ayittey and Halvorssen wrote in an op-ed in Slate. He currently teaches at American University and is an associate scholar at Foreign Policy Research Institute.