The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, hosts of the African leadership award, announced that there will be no winner this year. The award gives $5 million award to outstanding former African leaders over the course of five years and $200,000 each year afterwards. The foundation was founded by Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British magnate whose efforts in improving the quality of governance across Africa are renowned. Its decision not to give any candidate the leadership award has become somewhat expected, as it makes a statement on the poor state of leadership in African countries.

 

One of the world’s richest prizes, the African leadership award been awarded just four times despite been established a decade ago. For full details of who qualifies as a candidate, they are democratically elected African heads of state or government who have served their mandate and left the office in the past three years. Leaders must have also showed exceptional qualities in their role.

 

A number of African countries have “lifetime” heads of state who have ruled for decades on end. The rich rewards of the African leadership award are meant to encourage the role models who buck that trend. The award’s prize committee has stuck its ground by not giving awards where it feels none is due. The prize committee’s strict stance has drawn critics who argue that there are candidates who make the award’s cut and should thus receive the prize.

 

There were no winners in 2009, 2010, 2012. and 2013. However, a few leaders can claim to have won the award. Most recently, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia claimed the foundation’s prize in 2014. Others who have won the prize include Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires in 2011, Botswana’s Festus Mogae in 2009, and Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano in 2007. Notably, the African countries these leaders come from also feature highly on the global peace index. Nelson Mandela was also given the inaugural Honorary Laurete in 2007.

 

Perhaps in the future, Tanzania’s president John Magafuli, whose leadership efforts have been lauded so far, may win the prize.

 

Does the fact that few leaders have been given the African leadership award truly highlight the dire lack of quality African leadership? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on Twitter @rafeeeeta