Mo Ibrahim, we are so far away from that prize

Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese born British businessman.  From modest beginings as an Engineer in Sudan Telecom to Celltel an African cellphone empire to being valued at 5 billion dollars by Forbes.  The founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which helps promote democracy by offering a 5 million dollar prize to African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents, and who democratically transfer power to their successor.

The stated aims of the foundation are to:

  • Stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world
  • Provide objective criteria by which citizens can hold their Governments to account
  • Recognise achievement in African leadership and provide a practical way in which African leaders can build positive legacies on the continent when they have left office

This man spent the majority of his adult life making money and instead of retiring and living an easy and happy life decided to give back to his community, not just his country but the whole African continent.  Being a British citizen one would have expected him to find a nice country house in the English country side, raise a few sheep and toast his toes by the fire.  To the contrary he is trying to promote democracy and long term gains for the people of Africa.  I love it when I come by examples of people like this.  The prize offered by the foundation is the largest in the world, Nobel is only 1.3 million dollars.  He has definitely exceeded all expectations.

Unfortunately for us though we are no where near that prize.  Egypt has never seen a presidency transfered from one president to the next through elections yet.  Neither have we seen any security, health, education and economic development worth mentioning.

The initiative is a commendable one and worth knowing and teaching in our schools as part of our social studies curriculum just as we teach children about the Nobel prize.  To have our own example of great and altruistic individuals who should be the role models of our younger generations is priceless.

“Nothing, simply nothing, is more important for Africa than good governance” Mo Ibrahim

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