For the second year in a row, a prize recognizing excellence in leadership in Africa will not be awarded. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation said yesterday that no new candidates for the $5 million prize had emerged in the year since its selection committee decided that none of the eligible African former heads of state met the criteria for 2009.
Indeed, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation seems to accomplishing its goal – albeit in a less celebratory way – of provoking debate about good governance in Africa.
The prize is given to a democratically elected head of state who served his or her term in office within the parameters set by the country’s constitution and left office within the past three years. Since the Mo Ibrahim Foundation was founded in late 2006, Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique, and Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana, have received the prize. Former South African President Nelson Mandela received an honorary prize in 2007.
Despite the gloomy message that the announcement sends, the foundation emphasized that the narrow criteria make for a small candidate pool each year and that according to statistics compiled in the Ibrahim Index, governance across the continent is in fact improving. “Nevertheless, the Foundation is anything but complacent about the standards of governance in Africa,” a statement said.
With a slew of presidential elections scheduled to take place in sub-Saharan Africa over the next year, the Ibrahim Prize selection committee should have a broader pool to select from the next time around. Here’s to hoping that one of the candidates is worthy of the honor.
Photo: Mo Ibrahim (AP)