Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mo says No

The Mo Ibrahim foundation has decided for the second year in a row, not to award the coveted Excellence in African Leadership award. The 5 million dollar cash prize, as I discussed in an earlier post, is awarded to an African leader who have been democratically elected, served within their constitutional term limit and have left within the last three years. As he expressed in this piece for the Financial Times, Mo and his team were just not impressed by anyone this year.

This year, like last year, the prize committee – chaired by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general, who is independent of the board – has decided not to make an award.
So does that mean that African leadership has been, as The Economist might say, “hopeless”? And has the foundation, established to celebrate good leadership in Africa, ended up proving that there is no such thing?
No. Whether there is a winner of the prize or not, the purpose of the foundation is to challenge those in Africa and elsewhere to debate what constitutes excellence in leadership. The standards set for the prize winner are high, and the number of eligible candidates each year is small. It is always likely there will be years when no prize is awarded.

Though a disconcerting that there is no leader worthy of the prize, it's still nice to see this organization keeping their standards and not just doling out the cash to candidates who came close.

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