There was no winner in 2016 of the world’s largest annual award – the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced last week.
Following a meeting of the independent Prize Committee and the Foundation’s board, former Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, the Committee chairman, said there was no former African leader who left office over the last three years to win the Prize consisting of $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 a year for life thereafter. It is also possible for winners to apply for an additional $200,000 a year for philanthropic activities.
Dr Salim explained: “After careful consideration, the Committee has decided not to award the Prize in 2016. As I emphasise each year, a very high bar was deliberately set when the Prize was launched in 2006.
“We recognise 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,” Dr Salim added.
The candidates for the 2016 award were African heads of state who had left office during the period 2014 to 2016, having been democratically elected and served their mandatory terms.
Since 2006, only four leaders have won the Prize: Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007; Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008); Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011); and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014).
The Ibrahim Prize “recognises and celebrates African leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries, lifted people out of poverty and paved the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity”.
It recognises winners as “exceptional role models for the continent” while ensuring that Africa “continues to benefit from [their] experience and wisdom…once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent”.
The Committee noted: “[It] is an award and a standard for excellence in leadership in Africa, and not a ‘first prize’; there is not necessarily a Laureate every year.”