No winner of 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Friday March 06 2020

Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize Committee chairperson Festus Mogae. The Foundation announced on March 5, 2020 that there is no winner for the 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Mo Ibrahim Foundation on Thursday announced that there is no winner for the 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The award, launched in 2006, recognises African leaders who, despite challenges, develop their countries and strengthen democracy and human rights.

Five former presidents have been awarded since the Prize was launched, and one other, Nelson Mandela, was given an honorary award.

In a press statement released on Thursday, Prize Committee Chair Festus Mogae said: “The Ibrahim Prize recognises truly exceptional leadership in Africa, celebrating role models for the continent. It is awarded to individuals who have, through the outstanding governance of their country, brought peace, stability and prosperity to their people.”

Mo Ibrahim, a British-Sudanese telecom tycoon and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said that Africa is facing great economic and environ-mental challenges and the needs “leaders who can govern democratically and translate these challenges into opportunities.”

But despite the challenges, many Africans are now living in better-governed countries than 10 years ago, he added. “I am optimistic that we will have the opportunity to award this Prize to a worthy candidate soon,” Mr Ibrahim said.


The Ibrahim prize was also not awarded in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018 as the committee did not find a leader who met all the criteria for the prize.


Mozambique's former president Joaquim Chissano was the inaugural winner in 2007. Botswana’s former leader Festus Mogae, who was appointed chairperson of the Prize Committee in February 2020, won the prize in 2008. Other leaders awarded the prize are presidents Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011), Hifikipunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014) and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson in 2017.

Nelson Mandela of South Africa was given an honorary award in 2007.

The Ibrahim Prize is a $5 million award paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.


The committee uses five criteria to select a winner. The winner has to be a former African head of state or government; has to have been democratically elected; and should have left office within the last three calendar years before the award.

The candidate also has to have served only the constitutionally mandated term and demonstrated exceptional leadership.

According to the Foundation, Mr Chissano received the inaugural Ibrahim Prize for bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to Mozambique following the civil war.

Mandela received an honorary award for his personal sacrifice and dedicating himself to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Mogae was awarded the second Ibrahim Prize for his role in maintaining and consolidating Botswana’s stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/Aids pandemic.

Mr Pires was awarded the 2011 Ibrahim Prize for his role in transforming Cape Verde into a model of democracy and stability, while Mr Pohamba was awarded the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for his role in forging national cohesion, reconciliation and economic development.

Ms Johnson was awarded in 2017 for leading Liberia as it recovered from civil war and "working tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia." She was also praised for her efforts in reconciliation and nation building.