Friday, June 11, 2010

Mo Ibrahim's 10 million dollar Cash Prize

Mohammed Ibrahim is a big cheese. He made his billions (2.5 US, according to Forbes) by launching  a telecommunications company called Celtel in several African countries. With Celtel now sold to the Zain group (for 3.4 billion US), Mo has taken up the task of improving the political landscape in Africa. He created the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2007 with the purpose of stimulating debate on good governance, collecting data and creating statistics on good governance, and recognizing achievement in African Leadership.

Toward this end, he created an African Leadership award. To be considered for the award leaders must have been democratically elected, served within their constitutional term limits and have stepped down within the last three years. Joachim Chissano from Mozambique won it first in 2007, then Festus Mogae from Botswana, and last year they decided not to award any African Leader. Bad news guys! Better shape up, you wouldn't want to lose out on a cool five million USD over 10 years and a further 200k a year for life!

The Foundation also releases quite a tidy index on quality of governance in Africa.  Here are some rankings:

(It seems that this islands do better than the mainland. Why would that be the case?)

Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi over at AidWatch show off some of the FT's interpretation of the Mo index. Pretty graphics. Of course, I am skeptical about the statistics, especially their usefulness for comparisons across countries and across time (diff in diff type). However, I think Mo is attempting to do something noble and should be encouraged. Given the history of big men in African politics, creating an extra incentive for leaders to be good seems necessary.

Creating incentives for leaders to step down gracefully, another goal of the foundation, is also very important. If people like Qaddafi and Mugabe would just slip away, I'm sure their nations would greatly appreciate it. 

Speaking of those two, some other brutal bastards that are still in office include:

Isaias Afewerki 
Laurent Gbagbo 
José Eduardo Dos Santos 
and, pictured below with the Obamas,
Teodoro Obiang Nguema:

Do you think a cash incentive is enough?

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