The award was founded by Sudanese British telecommunications entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim.
The African Leadership Prize was launched in 2006. Despite being in its 11th year, the Ibrahim Prize has only been awarded 4 times. Past winners include Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano who won in 2007 for his “his role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy”, Botswana’s Festus Mogae (2008), Cape Verde’s Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires(2011) and Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba who was awarded in 2014.
Candidates are required to be democratically elected presidents who have left office in the previous three years at the end of their constitutional terms. The criteria also take into consideration the quality of the leader’s administration during their tenure.
In 2007, Nelson Mandela was made the honorary inaugural Laureate due to having ruled South Africa from 1994-1999.
“As I emphasize each year, a very high bar was deliberately set when the Prize was launched in 2006. We recognize and applaud the important contributions that many African leaders have made to change their countries for the better. But the Prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition.
The prize constitutes of $5 million which is paid over 10 years with a pension of $200,000 a year.
Africa leaders are notorious for clinging to power and causing a political meltdown and instability as a result. Hence, it does not come as a surprise when the Mo Ibrahim African Leadership Prize fails to find a winner.
The longest serving leader in the world is an African. In fact, seven of the top 10 longest-serving leaders in the world are all Africans and this grossly reflects the African leadership plight.
Various political crisis as in Zimbabwe and worse in Burundi have been borne in the continent as result of African leaders’ refusal to step down from power.
A similar case was narrowly avoided in The Gambia, after Nigeria, Senegal and some delegates from the ECOWAS intervened to get former President Yahya Jammeh to accept the outcome of the election result which saw him lose to Adama Barrow. Nonetheless, it’s been speculated that the former leader who committed human rights abuse amongst other atrocities was offered immunity before he conceded defeat for the final time.