Thursday, October 26, 2006

London: African Leadership Achievement Prize for Good Governance Announced


Sudanese-born entrepreneur Dr. Mohammed (Mo) Ibrahim, founder and Chairman of African mobile telecoms leader CelTel (a subsidiary of MTC Group), has announced a groundbreaking annual leadership achievement prize for good governance in Africa. Just when I was sinking into a hopeless well of depression over the disintegrating humanitarian situation in the Sudan’s western province of Darfur, Dr. Mo comes through with the big news of the day to lift our spirits about Africa. This news helps to inspire me at just the right moment since over the past several days I have been doing a great deal of online research in preparation for my next posts on the history of the Sudan and a piece about some of Khartoum’s budding entrepreneurs. Dr. Mo Ibrahim describes himself as a Nubian, a people with a long and rich history.

At the launch of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation today in London, Dr. Mo announced the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, a USD$ 5 million prize to be awarded annually to one of Africa’s best and most deserving leaders. has the best MSM news coverage on this exciting initiative along with an exclusive interview about the prize with Dr. Mo Ibrahim. BBC World News has today broadcast a short video about the award and published a story to their website. The rest of the global mainstream media is well…asleep at the wheel. Jewels in the Jungle is of course one of the first to bring this story to the blogosphere, where the best news and most informed readers really matter.

Hats off to the people of Sudan for bringing the world Dr. Mo Ibrahim. Finally, finally you have something to cheer about and a(nother) reason to be very, very proud.

I already know whom I would nominate for the Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for 2007 but unfortunately she was just elected to office last year. I certainly know whom I would not nominate for this year’s award, especially the guy sitting at position Nr.1 on this list of world leaders (World’s 10 Worst Dictators for 2006).

Excerpts from the latest news about the award can be found below with links to, BBC News, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and other related articles.
NEWS October 26, 2006
Posted to the web October 26, 2006
By Margaret McElligott
Washington, DC

After a professional career spent proving that investing in Africa can be profitable, telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim has embarked on a new task: to improve the quality of African leadership. To that end, the
Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced today a $5 million annual prize for African leaders who were elected fairly, improved their country's standard of living, and handed over power peacefully to the next elected government.

Recipients of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will get $500,000 a year in their first 10 years out of office, and $200,000 a year for the rest of their lives. The prize will be the world's most generous award, according to the foundation.

"The message is that we, Africans, it is time for us to take charge of our issues," Ibrahim said. "It is our responsibility to look after our continent, to look after our kids."

Ibrahim told AllAfrica that he hopes the award will spark a debate on the role of governance in Africa, and provide the means for former leaders to stay engaged in the national life of their countries.

"You don't need the power of the office to do things," Ibrahim said. "Civil society is so rich. We need to get engaged there."

More than anything, he said, the prize will be a reward to leaders who deliver to their people. He hopes to make the first award by the end of 2007.

"It's important that the citizens of Africa take the leaders to account," he said.

The prize's selection committee will choose winners with the help of a governance index that is being developed by Dr. Robert Rotberg at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The foundation will spend about $500,000 a year to develop and update the index. Rotberg has previously written on governance indices and has been developing new measurement methods with students for years.

Rotberg told AllAfrica that most existing measures rely on interviews and other forms of documentation for comparison, but that he will use only quantifiable, objective measures. For example, in measuring changes to the national infrastructure, the index may count the miles of paved road in a country. To measure political freedom, team members may identify the number of journalists or opposition leaders held in prison.

(Read more at - Record Breaking Governance Prize Launched)

Related articles and additional online resources

BBC News – 10/26/06
Prize offered to Africa's leaders A $5m prize for Africa's most effective head of state is being launched by one of the continent's top businessmen.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation official website – see Flash video with Nelson Mandela, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, et Al.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation African Leadership Prize press relese – 10/26/06

Exclusive interview with Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim about the Leadership Prize

Harvard University – John F. Kennedy School of Government
Center for Public LeadershipCPL Newsletter
Belfer Center (JFK School of Government) - Dr. Robert Rotberg profile

AME Info – 09/13/06
MTC Wins 4 Prestigious Industry Awards - 05/28/03
Dr. Mo - The Cellular Choice (interview by Francois Ploye)

CelTel Corporate website
Interview with Dr. Mo Ibrahim about his career and the telecoms industry in Africa

Technorati Tags:


Anonymous said...

Great news about Dr. Mo! I found some additional articles discussing entrepreneurship and reasons for optimism in Africa...they are pretty interesting:

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks for that great link to the Case Foundation website. I particularly liked the feature article "Africa: No Lost Cause" by National Geographic Magazine editor-in-chief Chris Johns. Thanks for your visit and sharing good information with us.

Case Foundation - Africa: No Lost Cause

Black River Eagle said...

Patrick Smith, noted editor of Africa Confidential writes in his weekly newsletter:

The offer is simple, on the face of it. The world's biggest individual prize - US$5 million spread over 10 years - is to be offered to the retiring African leader who is judged to have run the best government. That judgment is to be made by Dr Mo's fellow board members, Graça Machel, South Africa's Dr Mamphela Ramphele, former Organisation of African Union Secretary General Salim Salim and former Irish President Mary Robinson, and based on an index of good governance developed by Professor Robert Rotberg of Harvard University.

It looks like a lavish pension for well-meaning, well-doing African leaders - or, less politely, a fat bribe to make sure they quit on time. Many are horrified that the wealthy power elite in Africa should be offered even more money simply to leave when their term of office ends.

Yet the edgily energetic Dr Mo thinks that he has hit on a way to solve Africa's governance problems, to help the continent's leaders deal with life after power. For now, he says, these presidents face three choices: relative poverty, extending their term in office or building a vast pension through corrupt contracts. Dr Mo says that his prize will offer Africa's leaders a fourth choice: 'Govern well - and win a substantial prize'.

Many remain to be convinced. Some African leaders cause problems but so do its weak institutions that allow personal rule. The $5 mn. incentive would only be of interest to a narrow group, somewhere between those effective leaders who stick to their countries' constitutional term limits and those venal, oppressive leaders for whom $5 mn. is less than a contract kickback.

More questions still are being asked about Professor Rotberg's index of good governance. Will the Professor and his team of two researchers at Harvard complete their full governance rankings for 48 African states by the middle of next year as promised? How much will they rely on the notoriously inaccurate statistics of the World Bank, IMF and UN agencies? How much field work will they do in Africa? How many African institutions and academics will they involve?

All these issues are under consideration, Dr Mo and Professor Rotberg assured me. Clearly, there is much preparatory work to be done and big decisions to be taken if the 'Ibrahim index', as they call the African governance rankings, are going to have the hoped-for impact. In one respect, the Foundation is already succeeding: more people than ever are talking about standards of government in Africa, its institutions and leaders. 'Governance has come out of the closet in Africa,' as Dr Mo says.

The ONE Campaign said...

Hey Bill,

I work for the ONE Campaign and I’ve been tasked with looking for blogs that talk about extreme poverty and AIDS. Our Online Organizer here, Ginny Simmons, wants our blog ( to be better connected with, and help to build up - the poverty blogosphere.
Your site hosts fairly comprehensive topics and thoughts about what is going on in Africa and so I thought maybe you would be interested in becoming part of our network.
We recently put out a new ONE TV Spot. It’d be great if you wanted to post it on your blog. You can find code for the ad here:

The rest of our ONE videos are here:

We’d be really interested in hearing from you. Please shoot an email back to me ( with any questions, ideas or thoughts.

Thank you so much for all your good work.

Meagan McManus
The ONE Team

yovo68 said...

Hey Bill,
thanks for highlighting the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. That sounds like a great organization.

Sorry you had trouble posting comments on my blog. I had to lock down the comments b/c of comment spam. I installed a new security scheme for comments today. I think that this will work a lot better.

Re the MoBlogging: This plugin only enhances accessibility - I am not quite that mobile yet to require a MoBlog solution.

Black River Eagle said...

The ONE Campaign activities back in the States looks like something that I can definately support, Meagan. I especially like that idea of getting fellow Americans to vote (sign-up) for the campaign to help Make Poverty History by setting aside an additional 1% of our federal budget for proven and effective programs and initiatives.

Consider it done, Honey. You can tell your boss that not only did another offshore U.S. star sign up with the campaign today, but that he is gonna compose and publish a post about the ONE Campaign this week as well. Are there any ONE Campaign scripts that we can cut&paste to our blog templates?

To Yovo68 (aka Jürgen the biodiesel bootlegger):

Thanks for stopping by and leaving that note Jürgen. Thanks to both of you (Meagan and Jürgen) for the nice compliments...:-)

Meagan McManus said...

Thanks Jurgen and Bill! Juregen, if you e-mail me directly at, subject line it my name, Meagan, I will e-mail you an attachemnt of a template that you caN cut&paste for your blog. Thank-you so much for your support and enthusiasm to help us in our mission to erase poverty!

Meagan McManus
The ONE Campaign