"I have brought to light contracts for exploration and exploitation of the country's minerals, lumber and oil," said Essangui, who was in Washington to accept the $150,000 prize, along with five other winners.
Essangui, who founded Brainforest (www.brainforest.org), a non- governmental organization, exposed a contract between Gabon and the Chinese company, CMEC, to allow for the mining of iron ore. The project, signed without an environmental impact statement, could have affected a large section of the Ivindo National Park, part of the Congo Basin Rainforest.
Additionally, CMEC began constructing a road through the park. Essangui's efforts have helped lead to a renegotiation of the contract and the cessation of some activities.
Essangui, paralyzed and wheelchair-bound since he contracted polio when he was five, has been harassed and jailed during his career. He started his journalism career at a radio station in Libreville, Gabon's capital. He also writes for a newspaper and publishes articles on his website.
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