No African leader found worthy of $5-million good governance prize

Sudanese-born telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim discusses the release in London of the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which found a worrying trend in erosion of public safety and the rule of law on the continent. The foundation decided against awarding its 2013 $5-million prize for a former African head of state or government demonstrating exceptional leadership.
(Carl Court / AFP/Getty Images)

Most Africans are now better governed than in 2000, but the pace of improvement has slowed, and many countries are experiencing setbacks in public safety and the rule of law, a group dedicated to improving leadership on the continent reported Monday.

The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its 2013 Index of Good Governance, finding advances in security and justice in only 20 of the continent’s 52 countries.

Also lacking, in the judgment of the foundation’s prize committee, was any leadership role model for young Africans. For the second year in a row, the foundation decided against awarding its prestigious and lucrative $5-million prize, saying no former African head of state or government deserved it.

To be worthy of the prize -- which pays out the $5 million over 10 years, then provides an annual $200,000 stipend for life -- a recipient must have been democratically elected, have left office within the previous three years after fulfilling his or her elected term and have demonstrated excellence in office and progress in fostering sustainable and equitable prosperity.


The prize was established in 2007 by Sudanese-born telecoms magnate Mo Ibrahim but has found no worthy recipient in four of those seven years.

Previous winners were Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007, Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008 and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde in 2011.

The index, also first issued in 2007, provides a framework for citizens, governments, institutions and businesses to assess the delivery of public goods and services and policy outcomes across Africa, the foundation says on its website.

At the top of the foundation’s rankings for governance last year were Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, Seychelles and South Africa. Somalia ranked last, with Congo, Eritrea, Central African Republic and Chad rounding out the bottom of the index.


Good governance scores are determined by assessing each African state’s progress since 2000. Although 94% of the continent’s citizens live in countries better governed now than a dozen years ago, the gap between the best- and worst-managed countries has widened and given rise to fears for future African unity, said Salim Ahmed Salim, chairman of the Ibrahim Prize Committee.

Some notable highlights of the latest index were the performance of five countries recovering from armed conflicts: Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Burundi have shown the most improvement since 2000, with Angola and Rwanda posting consistent year-on-year advances, the foundation reported.


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