Yesterday, former President of Botswana Festus Mogae was announced as the winner of this year’s Mo Ibrahim Prize, a $5 million prize awarded annually to a former African Head of State or government who has demonstrated excellence in leadership. The BBC calls the Ibrahim Prize the most valuable annual prize in the world.
Mogae, who stepped down in April after two terms as president, was considered instrumental in consolidating democracy in Botswana and ensuring the country’s diamond resources were managed well and invested into local poverty reduction and job creation. Botswana is often touted as an African success story for its stability, low levels of corruption and relatively high economic growth. Former UN Secretary General Kofi noted this in his announcement, saying:
“Botswana demonstrates how a country with natural resources can promote sustainable development with good governance, in a continent where too often mineral wealth has become a curse.” Watch Annan’s full remarks here.
Mogae also was one of the first African leaders to speak out publicly about HIV/AIDS and embrace a program of universal treatment. In an attempt to counter the stigma associated with the disease, Mogae had himself publicly tested and introduced testing as part of routine care in Botswana’s national medical policy. In 2002, Botswana became the first African country to offer free antiretroviral treatment. Botswana now has one of the world’s highest coverage rates for HIV treatment, reaching 90% of those who needed medication in 2007.
President Mogae will receive the$ 5 million over 10 years and $ 200,000 annually for life thereafter. He will also be able to direct an additional $200,000 per year to a cause of his choice during the first ten years. The prize part of a broad range of efforts by the Ibrahim Foundation to support improved governance and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa (we posted here last month on the Ibrahim Index on African Governance, which ranks governments on quality of services and accountability to their citizens). The Ibrahim Foundation was founded by Sudanese telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim, a long advocated for strengthened governance and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa.