Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Keiskamma Tapestry on display at the South African Parliament Building 

With celebrity-like support from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Amartya Sen, Luis Michel (EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development), Jeremy Hobbs (CEO, Oxfam), as well as political backing from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Paul Wolfowitz and Alpha Oumar Konare (Chairperson, African Union), the Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched last Thursday in London a prize for Africa’s most effective head of state:

The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership recognises former executive Heads of State or Government in sub-Saharan Africa who have dedicated their constitutional tenure of office to surmounting the development challenges of their country, improving the welfare of their people and consolidating the foundations for sustainable development.

The prize will consist of US$5 million dollars over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. There will be a further $200,000 a year made available for good causes espoused by the leader. The selection criteria will be objective and measurable, covering the following areas of governance:

  • Sustainable economic development;
  • Human development: health and education;
  • Transparency and empowerment of civil society;
  • Democracy and human rights;
  • Rule of law and security.

While many believe this will offer a real incentive to governance improvements in the continent, others, such as Patrick Smith, of specialist publication Africa Confidential, beg to differ:

The people who know what to do and have done well are already doing it. And the people who are doing badly and are killing their own people or stealing state resources are going to carry on doing that.”

A colossal waste of money or a key turning point in African governance? You tell me…

[via Patrick]


5 responses to “Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

  1. Dr. Kwaku A. Danso

    This is perhaps one of the largest incentives for effective leadership in the history of mankind. However, we all know that African leaders who are corrupt know they can steal in sometimes billions of dollars. To them this award will not help. Where it becomes of value are the cases where genuine and professional honest people who have the love of their country and want to enter into leadership in their countries can be helped to become part and central locus of control for effective leadership and hence socio-economic development.


    Kwaku A. Danso, M.Eng, PhD

    For a review and copy of the latest Book by Dr. Kwaku A. Danso:
    Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa: The Case of Ghana
    Go to:

  2. From the desk of Dr. Sidney Okolo; Professor, Business Consultant, strategist, Expert in Africa…

    Dr. Danso made a compelling case and I applaud him for that. However, in addition to Dr. Danso’s prospective we need to create workshops in order to help coach and mentor these leaders. Dr. Godwin O. Igein developed a leadership model to enhance the leaders of developing countries. I will also include that the implementation of this model in African countries will require the developer, Dr. Igein in order to guarantee a successful and workable model.

    Most Africa countries have fractured infrastructure that has hindered the economic and market structure of these developing countries. This has inhibited these countries from prosperity. I have developed “a common sense economic and market structure model” to help elevate most of the developing countries’ problems and ease on the economies.

    Dr. Sidney O. Okolo, Ph.D.

  3. Joseph Darmoe, MSc

    This is a laudable concept that needs to be encoraged and developed. From the postings of Dr Danso and Dr. Okolo, it can be inferred that they have a lot to offer their respective countries and the continent as a whole.There is the need for leaders of today and prospective leaders to identify what policy direction we need to follow. For now, Africa is being used as a theory testing site for the academia and people with selfish political ideologies and desires. We need not just look at the infrastructural needs, and, the persons political capabilities, but his leadership style and how that will beenefit the continent in the long run. Effective leadership needs to be encouraged. The definition of what effective leadership is in the african context is beyond the criteria provided above. Let us all come together and look at where we started and what made us get to where we are now, and, with that we will know where we want to go.
    Thank you

  4. Wolali Ahlijah, MS

    I think this is another initiative that does not take into account the neo patrimonial nature of african government. An african leaders does not govern alone. There is like a clan/gang mentality and giving an incentive to the top person is not enough to change the leadership in depth.
    What surprises me is why Dr Rotberg moved away from the African Leadership Council which has a far more transformational approach that the transactional methods of the Mo. Ibrahim prize. I agree with the Dr Okolo that coaching and mentoring are critical to improving leadership in Africa. I have had the opportunity to listen to Dr Igein and his concepts are original. African leadership experts should work on consolidating coaching models such as Rotberg’s and Igein if they want to truly influence leadership on the continent.

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