For the second year in a row, the London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation has announced that it will not award its $5 million annual prize for excellence in African leadership.
Created in 2007 by Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership honors a former African head of state who has demonstrated leadership that improves the prospects of people on the continent. Recipients of the prize, who receive $5 million over ten years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter, must be democratically elected and have left office within the past three years. The first two recipients of the prize were Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana. In addition, South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela was named an honorary laureate in 2007.
According to the Associated Press, the seven-member prize committee considered "some credible candidates" — including former presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and John Kufuor of Ghana — in 2009 but eventually decided not to award the prize. This year, the committee told the foundation's board that there have been "no new candidates or new developments and therefore no selection of a winner had been made." The foundation will continue to promote complementary initiatives, including the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships, a new initiative designed to identify and prepare the next generation of African leaders.
As measured by the foundation's Ibrahim Index, which uses eighty criteria to assess the performance of African countries, the overall standard of governance on the continent is improving. "Many African countries are making great strides not just economically, but also in terms of their governance," said Mo Ibrahim. "Nevertheless, the foundation is anything but complacent....[Our] mission is to improve governance and nurture leadership in Africa. [And it] is clear that much more needs to be done."