World's biggest prize launched to reward Africa's good leaders
BRITAIN: A top African businessman launched the world's biggest prize
to reward good governance by departing African statesmen, with a host of
world leaders backing his landmark initiative.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, funded out of the Sudanese mobile phone
tycoon's own vast wealth, has been established as an African-based
project to recognise good leaders among 48 sub-Saharan African countries
- and name and shame the shoddy regimes.
The annual Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
will land a former head of state or government with a
five-million-dollar (four-million-euro) prize split over 10 years with
200,000 dollars annually for the rest of their lives. A further 200,000
dollars a year will be made available for good causes espoused by the
The prize, which will be first granted in 2007, far exceeds the 1.3
million dollars given to recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile, the annual Ibrahim Index for African Governance will rank
the countries according to governance quality, with the idea of showing
African citizens how their rulers match up.
The foundation is backed by former South African president Nelson
Mandela, the Ghanaian United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan,
former US president Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and African Union Chairperson Alpha
Oumar Konare among others.
"Nothing is more important to African development than good
governance," said Ibrahim, the Celtel International telecommunications
"I'm ashamed that we always have to look to the rest of the world for
assistance. It impacts on our dignity and our self-respect.
"We want to celebrate the guy who managed to take his people out of
poverty. That deserves the largest prize in the world.
"Billions of dollars are thrown at African countries. Five million
dollars to reward good leaders is peanuts when it comes to matters of
life and death."
The winner will be chosen by a team of 18 academics in conjunction
with the UN and other bodies such as the World Bank.
They will be informed by the Ibrahim Index, which assesses national
progress on sustainable economic development, health and education
programmes, transparency and empowerment of civil society, democracy and
human rights, security and the rule of law.
The index has been drawn up by experts at the Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University in the United States.
"There are no excuses for anyone to criticise. This is not mixing
business with politics: I am a concerned African citizen and this is my
private money," Ibrahim told AFP.
"Good governance is the biggest block to African development and this
will start a debate about it. We will absolutely name and shame in the
index, but we will also celebrate good leaders.
"For once, we want Africa to do something for itself. I have no
better way of spending my money."
And he warned Africa's corrupt rulers: "Watch out: we are coming
Foundation board member Mary Robinson, the former president of
Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, said the award would
have much greater impact because it was an African initiative rather
than simply a Western handout.
"It's greatly significant that this is an African businessman who has
invested in 15 countries, made big profits and done it cleanly, and has
now decided to put it back in to his own people," she told AFP.
In a video message to the launch, Mandela said: "It sets an example
that the rest of the world can emulate.
"The foundation aims to deliver the biggest prize of all: helping to
ensure that our rich continent becomes a prosperous one - for all its
London, Friday, AFP