Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Mo Ibrahim prize for African leaders: No winner ... again

By Mark Tutton, CNN
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Mon October 14, 2013
Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese communications billionaire. He created the foundation bearing his name in 2006, with the aim of improving leadership and governance in Africa. Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese communications billionaire. He created the foundation bearing his name in 2006, with the aim of improving leadership and governance in Africa.
HIDE CAPTION
Ibrahim Prize
President Joaquim Chissano
President Nelson Mandela
President Festus Mogae
President Pedro Verona Pires
Desmond Tutu
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • No winner of the 2013 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
  • Fourth time in seven years that no one has been awarded prize
  • Mo Ibrahim defends the stringent award criteria: "Let us seek heroes"

London (CNN) -- For a second consecutive year, no leader has been deemed worthy of the $5 million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The foundation's prize committee announced Monday that it had decided not to award the prize -- the fourth time there has been no winner in its seven-year history.

Winners must be democratically-elected leaders who have stepped down in the past three years after serving their constitutionally mandated term, and have demonstrated "excellence in office." The committee's failure to again find a prize winner has led some to comment that its selection criteria are too narrow, and should be broadened to include those showing leadership in civil society.

But Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecommunications businessman and billionaire, who created the foundation in 2006, defended the prize.

"Most African countries are new states -- some of the states did not exist 70 years, 50 years ago," he said, adding, "In established democracies there are some kinds of checks and balances, but at the early stages in a state's formation the power of the president is huge ... And we need really to point the finger at where the responsibility lies.

African dictators warned 'time's up'

"Let's put the light there and let us seek heroes."

Mo Ibrahim: Africa's elderly leaders risk more revolutions

The previous winners were President Pedro Verona Pires of Cape Verde in 2011, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007 and Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008. Nelson Mandela was made the honorary inaugural Laureate in 2007.

In 2009 and 2010 there was no winner, but in 2012 the foundation awarded Archbishop Desmond Tutu a one-off $1 million special prize for his lifelong commitment towards "speaking truth to power."

If there's no winner we hope that African people get more of the leadership they deserve.
Hadeel Ibrahim, executive director Mo Ibrahim Foundation,

There have also been accusations that failing to find a prize winner can encourage negative stereotypes about Africa and its leaders.

Hadeel Ibrahim, Mo's daughter and founding executive director of the foundation, told CNN: "We're holding a mirror up to Africa and if there's a winner, congratulations to the winner and to that country, and if there's no winner we hope that African people get more of the leadership they deserve."

She added: "I think that when there's no winner it means that there was no excellent individual. Some people have no expectations of a winner so it doesn't cast Africa in a negative light, because it's what they expect of the continent. For other people the fact that we've even had three winners has opened their eyes to the fact that leadership is much better than it was."

The foundation also released its Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) -- an annual study that uses 94 indicators to measure good governance in Africa.

In the 2013 index Mauritius scored highest for governance, followed by Botswana and Cape Verde, while Somalia scored worst, followed by DR Congo and Eritrea. Liberia was judged to have improved most, while Madagascar deteriorated most.

The report found that 46 African countries have seen improved governance since 2000, with those countries accounting for 94% of Africa's population.

But the report also found that safety and the rule of law have deteriorated overall, with only 20 countries showing an improvement in this category since 2000, partly because of increased internal unrest and internal conflicts in the continent.

Some felt the leadership prize, and its lack of a winner, detracted from impact of the governance report.

At the report launch Mo Ibrahim referred to the African Union's summit last weekend, where the AU agreed to a resolution stating no sitting African head of state should appear before the International Criminal Court, amid accusations that the ICC was unfairly targeting Africa.

"We need an honest and good dialogue between the ICC and the African Union," he said. "We cannot have a justice system that is in conflict with the continent, because it loses credibility."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
African Voices
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
The veiled female rapper tackling Egyptian taboos head on
Meet Mayam Mahmoud, the 18-year-old Egyptian singer tackling gender stereotypes through hip-hop.
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
As the head of Kenya Red Cross, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders at the Westgate shopping mall.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
Gikonyo performs a medical check-up for one of her patients at Karen Hospital in Kenya.
Leading pediatric surgeon Betty Gikonyo reveals how her life changed at 30,000 feet and her mission to save the lives of countless disadvantaged children in Kenya.
updated 8:46 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
Biyi Bandele
As a child, Biyi Bandele immersed himself in a world of literature. Today he's taken that passion and turned it into a career as a celebrated writer, playwright and now director.
updated 6:26 AM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Sanaa Hamri in Los Angeles, 2011.
Music video and film director Sanaa Hamri shares her story of how she made it from the streets of Tangier to the big film studios in the United States.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
updated 5:16 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the 86th Academy Awards nominees luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o has become a new critics' darling after her breakout role in last year's hit movie "12 Years A Slave."
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
Celebrated designer Adama Paris reveals how she was tired of seeing "skinny blonde models" on all the runways, so she did something about it.
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Global perceptions of the tiny country in east-central Africa are often still stuck in 1994 but local photographers are hoping to change that.
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Lightenings strike over Johannesburg during a storm on December 14, 2013.
Ending energy poverty is central to a resurgent Africa, writes entrepreneur Tony O. Elumelu.
updated 5:45 AM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
A group of young students have taken stereotypes about the continent -- and destroyed them one by one.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
Each week African Voices brings you inspiring and compelling profiles of Africans across the continent and around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT