No Ibrahim Prize for Kufuor

It was just announced (see for instance BBC here) that Sudanese business mogul Mo Ibrahim will not be awarding any former African leader his The Ibrahim Prize this year. The prize is the largest monetary prize in the world with its 5 million USD over 10 years and 200 000 annually for the rest of the recipient's life. The idea with the prize is to create debate around governance and provide positive incentives for democratic and transparent leadership in Africa.

Ghana's ex-president John Kufuor was one of the favorites for the prize along with South Africa's ex-leader Thabo Mbeki. Earlier this year, when Kufuor stepped down after eight years of rule, he was much applauded. Currently, he works with the UN-WFP. However, his name has also been mentioned in the questionable deal in which Ghana Telecom was sold, including the cable that connects Ghana to the rest of the world, to Vodafone Netherlands. I have blogged about Kufuor here, here and yesterday here.

The founder of the prize, a business man profiting on the telecom business in Africa, says in an interesting interview - to be found in whole here - about his success:

"I'm the same person. I still drive the same type of car. I live in the same house. Most of the money I made has gone back to Africa, or is going back to Africa. I decided the money will go into something really effective and worthwhile. That's what I hope our foundation will do."

Interestingly, the only way forward for Africa's leaders is suggested to be the opposite: large sums of wealth.

Still, I am sure the desicion to not award the prize ("no specific reason" was given according to BBC) will give cause for debate on good governance in Africa. Which ultimaltely, in my humble opinion, is the most important goal with the prize.

Well done, Mo Ibrahim!


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Lol at your clever-clever title. And I would also like to know what reason the "no reason" really is.

The pale observer said...

Thanks Kajsa - we were having this very debate this morning, when it had not yet been announced that the prize was not being awarded... I felt that it was sad to have to entice African leaders with promises of large sums of money, in order to step down in a democratic process where they are EXPECTED to step down.

Should this award not focus more on the acheivements during a leader's reign??

On the other hand, should there be such an award at all??? I am glad they have held the award back this time around - of there is no one who obviously should be exemplified.

Come on leaders of Africa - the prospering of your nations under your rule should be award enough.

Any of them worth their salt should donate the entire amount back into their country to a worthwhile project... That's just my two cents :)

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

this is a man who is modest in his greatness. Most of Africa's leaders steal from the population in order to live big but this is a man who started it from the beginnings...thanks. In Twi we would say 'Mo w'aye ade' i.e. Good you have done well. Mo in Twi means 'Well done' or 'Good'.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

@NY It might be so cleaver I don't even understand how cleaver it is...explain to me!

@Nana and Pale Observer - yes isn't it a paradox that this humble man thought of this solution? But if it is working, hey, don't fix it!

BTW, The "real no reason" must be the one Pale Observer suggests: No one obviously fits the bill. Not Mbeki, not Kufuor.

Nana said...

I would have been very excited for Kuffour if he had won, because he is the ex-president of my beloved country. Now, isnt it ironic that Ibrahim drives the same car, lives in the same house and put most of his money back into Africa? On the contrary, we award ex-gratia that includes mansions, luxury cars and payments to our leaders who are obviously not impoverished by any means. Just a thought.

Edward of PathGhana said...

@ The pale observer|| It's just like enticing kindergarten kids with candies to go to school!

Abena said...

Hey Kajsa,
Great title, I really had to look twice! I think the award is a great way to recognize African leaders who have adhered to the principles of democracy and good governance especially at a time when the continent appears to be slipping back to the dark days of military rule and lifetime presidencies. Not really sure whether a cash award is a good idea though.
I have heard some interesting (conspiracy) theories as to why no award was given out this year:

1. World economic crisis has caused a strain on Mr. Ibrahim's finances

2. Although the prize awardee is decided by a panel, the ultimate decision rests with Mr. Ibrahim. Therefore, there was no award for our JAK because Mr. Ibrahim has business interests in Ghana and it would not be prudent of him to be awarding the Ex-President of a party no longer in power. I said conspiracy theories!

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