Mo Ibrahim Group Decides Not to Award African Prize

Billionaire Mo Ibrahim
Billionaire Mo Ibrahim speaks during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, on Sept. 24, 2013. The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation was started in 2006 by Ibrahim, who founded the telecommunications company Celtel International BV. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation decided not to award an African leadership prize for the second straight year and said most nations on the continent are failing to match developmental gains with improved security.

The decision not to pick a winner of the $5 million prize was taken by a seven-member panel headed by former Tanzanian Prime Minister Salim Ahmed Salim, according to an e-mailed statement today. Previous winners include former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Mogae of Botswana.

While 46 of 52 African countries improved their scores on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance since 2000, 20 advanced when it came to safety and upholding the rule of law, according to the annual assessment. The London-based foundation was started in 2006 by Mo Ibrahim, 67, the billionaire founder of telecommunications company Celtel International BV.

“The findings highlight widespread improvements across the continent,” Ibrahim wrote in a forward to the report. “Average scores in the safety and rule of law category have declined. If this deterioration is not turned around it could signal an era where, despite fewer regional conflicts, we will see an increase in domestic social unrest.”

Mauritius retained its position as Africa’s best-governed country in the index, which measures performance for 2012. Botswana was second, followed by Cape Verde, Seychelles and South Africa. Somalia scored the lowest, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, the Central African Republic and Chad. Ninety-four percent of people in Africa now live in a country that has demonstrated overall governance improvement since 2000, Ibrahim said.

Declining Safety

The assessment, released for the seventh consecutive year, uses data from 32 independent, external sources to gauge factors including the extent to which human rights and economic stability are upheld.

Africa-focused funds are increasingly incorporating the assessment into their investment decision-making process, as evidenced by its inclusion in Barclays Plc’s latest emerging markets focus report, Elizabeth McGrath, the index’s director, said by phone from London.

Eighteen countries were accorded their best-ever index score for overall governance last year, with Liberia, Angola and Sierra Leone posting the biggest improvements. Conditions deteriorated most in Madagascar, Eritrea and Guinea Bissau.

A measure of human development on the continent rose an average 10.2 index points, while a gauge of sustainable economic opportunities gained 5.6 points and one for participation and human rights advanced 3.2 points. The measure for safety and the rule of law slid 1.1 points.


Countries have become increasingly interested in their rankings, with officials from Rwanda, Senegal and Djibouti approaching the foundation to get a better understanding of how they can utilize the index in their decision-making, Sophie Masipa, the foundation’s head of communications, said by phone from London.

Sudanese-born Ibrahim started Celtel in 1998 and built it into Africa’s third-largest mobile phone company. Zain, Kuwait’s largest mobile-phone provider, previously known as Mobile Telecommunications Co., bought 85 percent of Celtel for $3.4 billion in 2005.

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