The Ibrahim Prize

Had you ever heard of the Ibrahim Prize? Until yesterday, we had not. We read this article on the NYT saying that “Again, No African Leader had won the Annual Good Governance Prize”. And so we discovered it.

Founded by Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British billionaire who made his fortune in the telecom business, the Ibrahim Prize was established in 2007 “to celebrate excellence in African leadership”. The Prize is awarded to former African Heads of States or government, who were democratically elected, who did not exceed their constitutionally mandated term and who “demonstrated exceptional leadership”. Its most striking feature? It is the largest annually allocated prize, comprising $5 million over the first ten years, followed by US$200 000 per year for the rest of winner’s life. Chaired by seven exceptional people who dedicated their lives to public policy, the Prize Committee counts with Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize Mohamed ElBaradei, Mozambican Dr Graça Machel and Irish human rights advocate Mary Robinson.

Nevertheless, the prize was only awarded three times. In 2007, Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano was awarded the prize amongst other reasons “because of his decision not to seek a third Presidential term reinforcing the country’s democratic maturity”. In 2008, it’s was Botswana’s President Festus Mogae as his country “demonstrates how a country with natural resources can promote sustainable development with good governance”. And in 2011, it was the time for Cape Verde President Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires as “he transformed Cape Verde into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity”.

The only sad part behind this astonishing initiative? Since 2011 – the fourth time in five years -, the prize has not been awarded. This seems to confirm that the continent is lacking exceptional leadership and defenders of good governance…

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