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…