Wednesday, September 01, 2010

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Mohammed Ibrahim on Good Governance as the Engine of African Development

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When Sudanese engineer and entrepreneur Mohamed Ibrahim built a cellular communication network across the African continent, he likely had no idea he’d meet such massive financial, social and political success.

Ibrahim eventually sold his Celtel company for $3.4 billion, and used his money to establish the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The Foundation’s major goal is to improve governance across the African continent, since without government provision of security, rule of law, justice and human development, and facilitation of trade, citizens have a much more difficult time of transforming their societies for the better.

The Mohamed Ibrahim Foundation awards excellence in national leadership to any African federal leader who came to power democratically and left his or her country in better political, economic and social conditions.

Worth $5 million initially and $200,000 annually for life, the prize is awarded by a panel of internationally respected jurors including Nobel Prize winners, and can be given to any leader who left office within the previous three years. It’s the most lucrative prize in the world.

The money, argues Ibrahim, is not only to celebrate such excellent leadership, but to provide prestige, comfort and security for leaders who cannot, unlike their Northern counterparts, rely on endless consultancies and speaking engagements which routinely yield millions of dollars annually.

In 2007, Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano won the prize for leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy, and in 2008 Festus Mogae of Botswana won for “outstanding leadership [that] ensured Botswana’s continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic which threatened the future of his country and people.”

But Ibrahim argues that his greater accomplishment is the Ibrahim Index of Good Governance, a broad and deep survey of governance across the 54 countries of the continent and its island satellites.

International agencies supply the Index its raw data, which a team of African academics analyse and translate into performance scores in key areas from human rights and education to safety and transparency.

By ranking countries, Ibrahim argues that states will engage in positive competition to attract investment by improving quality of governance and civic life.

Dr. Ibrahim has received recognition around the world, including the Economists Innovation Award for Social & Economic Innovation, the BNP Paribas Prize for Philanthropy, and placement on TIME Magazine’s 2008 and 2009 lists of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Mo Ibrahim spoke at the sixth anniversary of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore on July 15, 2010.



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