Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2009


NYT: No Prize to Ex-head of state this year

AllAfrica.com: Africa - No Ibrahim Leadership Prize to be Awarded This Year

BBC News: African leadership prize withheld

BBC News: Prize offered to Africa's leaders

Wikipedia: Ibrahim Prize

After a surprise announcement, the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will not be awarded this year.  The award is presented to a former sub-Sahara African head of state based on their good governance in the areas of security, health, education and the economy.  A democratic transition of power from the former head of state to their successor is also a prerequisite to winning.  Winners receive $5 million paid out over 10 years followed by $200,000 a year for the rest of their life.  It has been praised not only by eligible African leaders, but world luminaries such as former South African President Nelson Mandela, United States President Bill Clinton, and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan have supported this unique idea.

The award was founded by billionaire Mr. Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese mobile phone entrepreneur.  In 2005, Mr. Ibrahim sold his pan-African company Celtel to Kuwait-based MTC for $3.4 billion.  He now wants to give back to his homeland, and has started a foundation to promote good governance in Africa.  Mr. Ibrahim felt that many former African presidents have difficulty letting go of the fancy trappings of their offices.  Many go from having expensive cars and mansions to experiencing difficulty renting a house in the capital city.  Mr. Ibrahim says this causes them to engage in embezzlement, corruption, and to slow smooth transitions to newly democratically elected leaders.  The Ibrahim prize is the world’s largest, far exceeding the $1.3 million given for the Nobel Peace prize.  Mr. Ibrahim hopes that the generous gift will help honest people who may be having trouble making the right decisions to stay the course and promote good democratic leadership.

Past prize winners have included Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007 and Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008.  Additionally, former South African President Nelson Mandela is an honorary laureate.  This year marks the first time that the award has not been given, a possibility that Mr. Ibrahim has said always existed.  He points out that the decision by the prize committee is not meant as a slight to any potential candidates.  Early speculation favored South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Ghana's John Kufuor.  However, in failing to find a worthy recipient, the awards committee has highlighted a troubling trend on the continent.  Uganda, Chad and Cameroon have all recently amended their constitutions to allow their leaders more time in office. Guinea, Mauritania and Madagascar have all recently suffered from coups.  Many observers have noted that even when there were democratic elections, they often fell short of international standards.  It is hoped that next year will see a return of the Ibrahim award and an improvement of the ideals that it stands for.

Discussion Questions:

1) Is the Ibrahim prize a reward for good leadership or is it a bribe that good leaders should not need?

2) When any prize skips a year, does it hurt the respect given to the award and what it stands for?


CD rates said...

Any prize is always a reward. It is an appreciation token for good work done, without doubts it is encouraging and motivating for people to perform there best.

I think not giving the award doesn't affect the pride of prize, rather there are lack of people who deserve prestigious awards.

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