Wednesday, September 26, 2007

World's biggest prize goes to Africa

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has announced the world's biggest prize. It will go to past leaders of African states who demonstrated excellent leadership. To qualify, leaders must have been fairly elected and served their term. The prize will be judged partly on the measures established by the Ibrahim Governance Index, which has been developed by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr Mo Ibrahim, African cell phone entrepreneur, has established this prize

It's bigger than the Melbourne Cup, the world's richest horse race, so what is it worth? Try this:

  • US$ 5 million over 10 years
  • US$ 200,000 annually for life thereafter
  • A further US$ 200,000 per year for good causes espoused by the winner

This initiative seems to be very well thought through, and it has the support of important leaders like Nelson Mandela

Mo Ibrahim has a vision to promote and recognise good governance that will drive Africa's political and economic renaissance. He has established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to develop criteria for good governance, stimulate public debate and challenge the continent's leaders to set the global benchmark on this issue.

And Kofi Annan

I thank Mo and all those engaged for establishing such a generous prize as an incentive. It reflects the unique insight of Mo the African and Mo the businessman and entrepreneur. May your initiative inspire and celebrate the best of African leadership and equip future leaders with the knowledge and experience they will need.

There's an interview with Mo Ibrahim on AllAfrica where he says –

We exist for Africans. This is an African effort. Our foundation is an African foundation. What we really care about is African civil society and African governance.

Wow! Here is another great philanthropist focusing attention on Africa. I like the idea of providing leaders with a real financial incentive to do good things. It may help counteract the strong temptations to use power for personal gain.

I would encourage you to keep an eye on Africa. Look out for the myriad of initiatives that are springing up to foster better government and stronger economic development in very poor countries. Help comes from all directions.

Some of that help can come from you when you donate to the School of St Jude: Educating future leaders of Tanzania. Who knows? one of these students may win the Ibrahim prize one day.

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