Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hard Pressed for Leaders

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation recently met to see if any new leaders (heads of government) fit the profile and qualifications of excellence in leadership and good governance. They decided that since there were no new candidates no prize would be awarded. To some this may seem like de ja vu, there was no prize laureate last year either. The only difference is that last year seemed more powerful and the political message was clear. This time around, there was hardly any news coverage or pomp and circumstance making people question whether this Prize will be around much longer. To be fair, the Prize Committee (the committee responsible for choosing the prize winners) are fighting an uphill battle. One is mathematical in that there will be years where no leader steps down or fulfilled his/her term limits, some term limits are 4 years, others 5, some 10 (see Tanzania). I am sure there will be a year with many potential candidates and years with none. The other problem is the lack of democratically elected leaders and visionary leaders that push for good governance and actually step down after their term without manipulating the constitution or becoming 'president forever.'

I am sure that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is now thinking of "plan bs" and contingency plans to make sure that the money is used towards the betterment of Africa and good governance. One thing is for sure, we are still facing a deficit in effective leadership. This goes back to the importance of the youth and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is going to establish a fellowship program and I encourage all of you to watch this spot:

"The Foundation will shortly be launching the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships, a selective programme designed to identify and prepare the next generation of outstanding African leaders by providing them with mentoring opportunities in key multilateral institutions. The programme will seek to attract a number of highly qualified and talented professionals each year to serve in leading institutions whose core objective to improve the prospects of the people of Africa. “The Foundation is currently working with pan-African organisations to design the fellowships. It will announce further details of them at the Foundation’s annual celebration and forum on governance to be held in Mauritius in November. Applications will open shortly afterwards and we expect the first Leadership Fellows to begin their Fellowships early next year."

This could be an opportunity for all of us to put our ideas and thoughts into action.

What are your thoughts on the Mo Ibrahim Foundation's Prize? Does it hurt or benefit them that they have not awarded a leader in two years? Who has the potential of receiving a Prize in the coming years?

For more information, see this PDF file.


  1. Thanks for this post boss.

    It's def important to note that the prize was not given for the second year in a row. We have the option of believing (a) that there is indeed no leader that fits the Mo Ibrahim Prize profile again, or (b) that there is something else going on.

    From a general perspective, I think it hurts not to award anything at all if you have set out the mandate to award people in the first place. If a specific leaders' profile did not surface to the top, then could some kind of institution be awarded rather than an individual? Say for example, the joint constitution efforts in Kenya (I guess these are also now compromised), or the leadership behind organizing the World Cup in SA.

    As you mention, however, the fact remains that the money has to be used properly. And the fellowships are a fantastic idea.

    However, will these fellowships be used specifically for the promotion of good governance? Ie: Will they help youth integrate into public service institutions that will eventually break ground for progressive, sustainable, and legitimate leadership in African nations?

    I hope they do, because we already have fellowships and grants available to entrepreneurs globally. While more money for entrepreneurs is great, what is happening on the policy front? This is where the Mo Ibrahim foundation steps in, especially given its philosophy of promoting good governance.

  2. A few years ago, our very own B Mkapa was snubbed for the prize.

  3. Mkapa "snubbed"? Man, I guess you missed the Sumaye, Mkapa, Lowassa et al's corruption scandal "rumours".

    I think the Mo Foundation is doing the only right thing -- considering the fact that we just seem to not have a lot of good leaders out there at the moment. I am afraid the situation wouldn't improve if the youths (who will be the leaders in a few days; not years) were ignored.

    So, congratulations to the foundation for deciding to be rather practical.