African billionaire has a plan for progress: Pay dictators to go away
Some hail a form of term limits
LONDON -- A Sudanese billionaire is putting up millions in prize money to promote good governance in Africa -- and to encourage leaders on the world's poorest continent to step down once their democratic mandates have expired.
Judges of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will rate 53 African countries each year on progress in the economy, health, education, and security.
Each leader awarded the prize will receive $5 million spread over 10 years after leaving office. If still alive when the initial prize is exhausted, prize-winners will receive another $200,000 annually until they die.
In an opinion piece published in The Guardian newspaper yesterday, Ibrahim said he was trying in part to address reluctance to relinquish power on a continent where military dictators and presidents for life have long held sway.
"A situation in which leaders face three choices -- relative poverty, term extension, or corruption -- is not conducive to good governance," Ibrahim wrote in The Guardian. "And the continent's problems will not be solved unless governance improves radically."
The statement announcing the prize yesterday included endorsements from former South African president Nelson Mandela, who served one term, and African Union chief Alpha Konare, who stepped down as Mali's president after completing the constitutionally allowed two terms.
The prize will be awarded based on criteria developed by Robert Rotberg, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The first prize will be awarded next year.
Ibrahim sold Celtel International, an African cellphone network, for $3.3 billion in 2005.