"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.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail email@example.com.