June 14th, 2010
01:10 PM ET

Foundation: No African leaders worth $5 million award

Billionaire Mo Ibrahim says not enough is being done to improve governance in Africa.

A London-based foundation has decided for the second year in a row not to award its $5 million prize for excellence in African leadership.

The Ibrahim Prize, which was scheduled to be handed out Monday, goes to candidates based on their “exercise of leadership and the performance of their country during their time in office,” according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation website.

The award went to Mozambique ex-President Joaquim Chissano in 2007 and Botswana ex-President Festus Mogae in 2008. Chissano was credited with helping end his nation’s civil war, while Mogae was honored for his work to improve Botswana’s economy.

In a statement, the foundation said its prize committee considered viable candidates last year but couldn’t make a selection. The committee decided “there had been no new candidates or new developments” this year.

Ibrahim, a Sudanese billionaire and communications mogul, said African countries were improving their economies and their governance, but not enough.

“The foundation is anything but complacent,” Ibrahim said, according to a statement. “Its mission is to improve governance and nurture leadership in Africa. It is clear that much more needs to be done. It is for that reason that the Foundation has decided to promote complementary initiatives.”

Among the initiatives are leadership fellowships, which will provide mentoring to professionals composing “the next generation of outstanding African leaders.”According to the foundation, the Ibrahim Prize committee – which includes former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and Graça Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela – is independent and reserves the right to withhold the prize in any given year.

In 2007 and 2008, Chissano and Mogae won the award for leadership that was comparable to that of “the very best leaders of any continent, past or present,” the foundation’s website said.

“While the focus is often on failures of leadership, the Ibrahim Prize aims to call attention to the positive leadership on the continent,” the website said. “The Ibrahim Prize will not be awarded if there aren’t any suitable candidates.”

In addition to a $5 million prize, doled out over 10 years, winners also receive $200,000 a year for the remainder of their lives.

The prize money allows African leaders to continue building on their achievements.

“While leaders from the Western world have a range of options open to them after leaving office, including writing memoirs or sitting on company boards, these are not available to their African counterparts,” the website said.

The foundation uses an 84-criteria index to grade governance in Africa. The top-governed African nations, according to the index, are Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles, Botswana and South Africa.

According to its website, the foundation was set up to stimulate debate on governance, provide criteria for accountable government, recognize achievements in African leadership and support the continent’s aspiring leaders.

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Filed under: Africa • Uncategorized
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. damiao


    June 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    That's probably a good decision.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. relians

    what "leaders"?

    June 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. relians

    maybe it should just read, "association finds no african leaders"

    June 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ravenmortal

    Does the award roll-over to the next year?

    June 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sabaajayi

    That's really bad omen for Africa. How I wish they will be challenged and do more for us but rather, what they care about is their own pocket, well-being and that of their families ESPECIALLY Nigerian leaders. Shame on them.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GBusher

    well.. hmmm... nope.. cant think of any good african leaders in the US that would fit that prize either.

    June 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      thats cuz there are no african leaders in America. Obama is black American. had he been born in Africa he would have been African American. good to know your close mindedness is working out for you.

      June 15, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. v

    wow, a London based company! how bout this, London should just give money to all the laborers who have toiled in the mines for diamonds and whatever else. africans have made the US and UK rich. regardless of their ridiculous leaders if i were London i would do something to better their conditions, seeing how London has prospered on the backs of africa. i am so laughing my head off right now because the chickens have come home to roost for real! reaping and sowing has taken on a whole new meaning and we can only hope for grace and a pardon for our transgressions to our fellow man.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. mindy1

    gee what a shocker

    June 15, 2010 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. steven

    No African leader is worth a $5 award for peace and leadership...

    June 15, 2010 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. Horace Ramtahal

    The time when each African leader makes a personal commitment to end corruption, each starting with her/himself, seek the highest good for their country's citizens, and respect for human rights, only then, will their leadership be considered lofty. All else make them to be nothing but power grubbers, hungry for their country's coffers as their personal bank account, all at the expense of the service worthy of the people, whom they were meant to serve in the first place.
    I strongly encourage the Ibrahim Prize to reconsider and choose Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia's 'Iron Lady' for this endowment as I believe that few men have the cojones to govern a country so rife with strife. She has the compassion, courage, and common sense, few among her peers can surpass

    June 15, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Seamus Wardowski

    Another oxymoron for our language: like Military Intelligence, or Jumbo Shrimp...we now have African Leader...

    June 15, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. Abebe

    All most all African leaders are reacher than this business man. I guess, they wouldn’t stop laughing when they heard about this prize.

    June 18, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Harrysamboo1

    Has the Prime Minister of Mauritius been considered?
    Today, Mauritius is considered as an example of true democratic welfare state with free education to all from pre-primary to tertiary levels. Transport for the elderly and students is free. The Prime Minister has created a new ministry to eliminate the few pockets of poverty with a plan to build some 10,000 low cost houses for the needy.
    Mauritius has been quoted by Mrs Clinton as an example to be followed by the African states as regards the collaboration of Public and Private sectors for the economic and social development.

    August 8, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |