The Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index and Leadership Prize: Commentaries & Critiques


See also the ALPN Brief: The Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index and Leadership Prize Revisited: How Dr. Ibrahim and Other Well-Off Africans Can Best Foster Good Governance in African Countries (By Jump-Starting Resource-Pooling Efforts to Build High-Impact Independent Information-based Institutions and Infrastructures that Will Foster Accountability and the Emergence of Visionary and Transformational Leaders)

For links to the websites of organizations and initiatives that are actively helping to foster transparency, accountability, and better governance in African countries — through capacity building, research, analysis, information dissemination, public education, and advocacy — visit our Governance Initiatives webpage.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation Website                           Ibrahim Index of African Governance   

Message from Mo. By Mo Ibrahim. 19 October 2012

The Business of GoodGovernance. South 2 North. Al Jazeera. January 10, 2013. Mo Ibrahim and his daughter Hadeel discuss the need to brand Africa by its good leaders, not just its failed ones.

Unworthy leaders.The January 6, 2013. For the third time, no African leader qualifies for Mo Ibrahim award.  By Mo Ibrahim. 19 October 2012

No African Leader Deemed Worthy of Leadership Award. Eoghan Mcguire and Catriona Davies. CNN. December 31, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim, Africa’s Bill Gates: Africa’s Moment Has Come and We Shouldn’t Waste It. Elisabeth Braw. Huffington Post. November 27, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim: Towards A Well Governed Africa. November 19, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim: “Youth: The Continent’s Greatest Natural Resource”. New African Magazine. November 3, 2012.  …As Ibrahim points out, worryingly, governance indicators in the regional giants of Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya would seem to indicate that these countries “appear to be stuttering a bit”. That is disappointing for, as Ibrahim observed, these economic powerhouses, it had been hoped, would serve to lift their regional neighbours. But, on a more positive note, Ibrahim was able to report that, in general, indicators are improving across the continent – especially in the metrics of gender and health. Between 2000 and last year, there has been “a marked improvement in governance across Africa,” he said. “The economy has been moving forward relentlessly. However, this economic development does not give us any reason to be complacent about participation and human rights.”…

African governance: Mo’s ranking. The Economist. October 30, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim Governance Report on Jonathan’s Nigeria. Sam Nda Isaiah. Leadership. October 29, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim: Nigeria’s Low Rating. October 25, 2012.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation: Investing in Leadership. Jay Naidoo. Think Africa. October 25, 2012.

Is the Mo Ibrahim Prize Worth It? Kiran Madzimbamuto-Ray. Think Africa Press. October 24, 2012.

Lessons from Mo Ibrahim’s Leadership on Good Governance. Richard Gilbert. Business Fights Poverty. October 24, 2011.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation: Index of African Governance and African. Richard Crelin. Indigo Trust. October 22, 2012.

Again No African Leader Deserves Mo Ibrahim Prize? Akinjide Akintola. October 21, 2012.

Video: Mo Ibrahim on Africa, Governance.  Bill Gates. The Gates Notes    October 20, 2012.     

Winners and Losers of Mo Ibrahim’s African Governance Index. October 17, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim Index: Africa’s famished leadership landscape. Hardball. The October 17, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation rates Nigeria low in its African Governance. October 17, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim 2012 Index of African Governance Report. October 16, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim Index and Governance Prize:Time to Stop Measuring leaders and Start Rewarding Countries? Dele Meiji Fatunla.  October 16, 2012.

Nigeria Worst Performer Among African Powerhouses – Mo Ibrahim. Juliet Bumah. October 16, 2012.

No Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership this Year. John Campbell. Council on Foreign Relations.  October 16, 2012.

Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership: No winner. BBC News. October 15, 2012.

Africa’s Leadership Fails Billionaire Mo Ibrahim’s Test, But Technocrats Rise. Calestous Juma. Forbes. October 15, 2012.

No African Ruler Considered Worthy of £3m Leadership Award – Again. October 15, 2012.

No Winner of 2012 Mo Ibrahim Prize for African leadership. Erin Conway-Smith. October 15, 2012.



Mo Ibrahim and Foundation Members on the Index and Prize

Strengthening African Governance: Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2008The 2008 RankingsMo Ibrahim Foundation

Mo Ibrahim Foundation announces next steps to strengthen Ibrahim Index. 6 October 2008

Criteria for a continent. Mo Ibrahim. The World in 2008 (The Economist)

Leading Africa forward. Mo Ibrahim. The Guardian (UK).

New Governance Index Is ‘An African Effort’ for Development. Interview with Mo Ibrahim.

Rewarding good governance in Africa: Criteria for a continent. Video (The Economist). Mo Ibrahim talks about why governance is a necessary first step for the development of Sub-Saharan Africa

Mo Ibrahim unveiled. Liz Ng’ang’a. The East African.

The Secretary-General’s Agenda: Sustainable Development In Africa Requires Good Governance. Mo Ibrahim.UN Chronicle.

Speech at the 7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government: Building Trust in Government – UN Headquarters, Vienna, 25-29 June 2007. Mo Ibrahim

Lunch with the FT: Mo Ibrahim. Financial Times

A powerful voice for Africa. Kofi Annan. Joaquim Chissano’s role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy made him a very worthy winner of the Mo Ibrahim prize.

$5 mln prize may improve African leadership – Annan.  (Kofi Annan, Chair of the  Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Prize Committee)

What Africa Really Needs is Visionary Leadership. Henry Ekwuruke (member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Prize Committee)

Continent will reap reward of leadership. Mamphela Ramphele (member of the board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation)

Governance Index Is a Work in Progress, Rotberg Says. interview.

Governance for Development in Africa InitiativeCentre of African Studies at SOAS, University of London

SOAS commemorates generous gift from Mo Ibrahim Foundation. 27 March 2008

Commentaries & Critiques

Trophy leaders are not enough. Calestous Juma. The Guardian (UK). “…The $5m prize intended to help improve Africa’s leadership risks diverting attention from more critical institutional issues. …Much of Africa currently holds multi-party elections. But parliaments are poorly supported. Elected leaders can hardly be effective representatives of their people. For example, many parliaments debate national budgets but they cannot influence their contents. They merely rubber-stamp proposals for the executive branch, many of which are discussed in advance with development partners. Similarly, judicial offices remain under-funded and lack the administrative infrastructure to render justice in a fair and efficient way. They need to digitise their records but can hardly get the support to do so. The lack of administrative infrastructure reduces transparency, breeding corruption and other malpractices. All of this will reflect badly on leaders in power. The prize serves a useful purpose in focusing attention on the need to improve governance in general and leadership in particular, but more needs to be done to help Africa build the institutional infrastructure needed to deepen democracy.”

If political culture is unsound, no prize will improve governance. Xolela Mangcu. BusinessDay (South Africa).”…It is in civil society that the deliberation about good governance and good leadership must be located. Ultimately, the defining legacy of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation initiative will be the extent to which instruments such as prizes and indexes are leveraged to liberate the political cultures of our societies….”

How to Rank Good Governance: The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Brookings Institution Panel Discussion. October 25, 2007. Brookings hosted Professor Rotberg who discussed the creation of the new index and the implications of the African Leadership Prize for the improvement of governance in Africa. He was joined by Chris Fomuyoh, director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Aart Kraay, lead economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank.  Transcript of Panel Discussion

The Mo Ibrahim Prize: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. Issa Shivji

A Comment on Issa Shivji’s Critique of Mo Ibrahim’s Prize. African Path Blog

Mo Ibrahim Index in Spotlight: Is Zimbabwe Better Governed Than Nigeria? Freedom House Blog

Assessing governance: No easy task. Marta Foresti. Overseas Development Institute (UK) Blog

The Mo Ibrahim Prize and Governance Index. Michael Jennings. Royal African Society (UK)

Mo Ibrahim’s Big African Joke. Richard Dowden. Royal African Society (UK)

Bribing African leaders to leave power on time.  Richard Dowden. New Vision (Uganda)

The prize for achievement in African leadership: Juicy carrot or red herring? Olivier Jarda

African leaders: index the streets! G. Pascal Zachary. Africa Works  ….Unwilling to criticize actual African leaders, these global actors promote safe, sanitary “benchmarks” for leadership. These benchmarks, always debateable and grounded in mushy statistics, are psuedo-scientific, misleading and ultimately corrosive. Defenders say these indices are better than nothing. Yet metrics for leadership can only grow out of the societies in which leaders themselves grow….The trouble with leadership in Africa is not a lack of great leaders or an ignorance about what constitutes great leadership. I meet great leaders all the time in Africa. They lack power, not a moral compass. Their honesty and integrity are a handicap. They are smothered, pressured, and sometimes even extinguished by rivalrous bad leaders who in an endless display of Gresham’s Law prove time again that “bad (leaders) drive out good.” The academic indices for African leadership don’t calculate the one ultimate source of leadership: people power…

Lawrence Haddad on the Mo Ibrahim Prize. Lawrence Haddad, Institute of Development Studies, UK

In Africa, it’s death by leadership. James Shikwati

Ordinary – The New Extraordinary. Hennie van Vuuren. Institute for Security Studies, South Africa.  The extent to which the positive values of African leadership have been debased found expression in the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. …Africa, therefore, seemingly demands a different set of governance standards. Could it be that there are two objective measures of governance – that which is ‘African’ and that which is ‘good’ (the rest of the world)? What follows is an implicit assumption that African leaders are so corrupt and money hungry that the only way to ensure that they do the right thing is to dangle the lure of more money…A real concern is that this reinforces a colonial stereotype of the African ethical compass, one guided only by a shiny silver dollar. If anything leaders like Chissano and his peers should vocally reject initiatives such as this which serve only to patronise. The tacit acceptance of such awards send a subtle message to aspirant African politicians, businessmen and the millions of bureaucrats across the continent: ‘doing the right thing’ – doing what one is elected and/or paid to do – is not part of the African ‘condition’ but is instead something special’. We therefore run the risk of elevating what should be ordinary behaviour to the level of the extraordinary…

What is good governance? Kwaku Asante-Darko. Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

Bribing Africa’s Leaders to Stop Corruption. Gathara’s World

Celebrating miserable African leaders. Dennis Matanda. Sub-Saharan African Roundtable Blog

African governance prize problematic. Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press

Commentary: African leaders, corruption and colonialism. Peter Ongera

In a good cause: Mo Ibrahim’s first-ever bribe.

The Ibrahim Index on African governance. African Business (Cover Story). November 2007

Can a prize for good governance make a difference?

The Ultimate Golden Handshake. Moyiga Nduru

Mo Ibrahim’s Prize for African achievers.  Kipkoech Komugor. Kenya Times.

Is $5m the cost of good governance in Africa? Ethan Zuckerman

Africa’s new $5 million prize for top leaders. Christian Science Monitor

Africans can find solutions for Africa. Editorial. Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)

Mo Ibrahim prize: A case of misplaced priorities? Cameron Duodu. New African

Can a $5m political prize save Africa?

Index to judge African leadership. Financial Times

Ibrahim hopes $5m will stop leaders clinging to office. Financial Times. October 26 2006

Leading article: Money alone will not change Africa’s waysThe Independent (UK). 27 October 2006

Prize of $5m awaits honest African rulers. The Guardian (UK). October 25, 2006

Virtue Has Its Own RewardsWall Street Journal Online. October 26, 2006. .

A cure for corruption? The scourge of Africa’s kleptocrats. The Independent (UK). 27 October 2006

Sudanese tycoon hopes $5m prize will stop leaders clinging to officeFinancial Times, Oct 26, 2006

The Way We Live Now: Leaders’ landingsFinancial Times. Oct 27, 2006

Carrots for kleptocrats (Letter to the Editor). Financial Times. Oct 28, 2006

Award for Africa’s best leader. Sunday Times (South Africa). 01 November 2006

Buying Out Dictatorships.

Africa leaders offered prize for ruling well. The New York Times. October 26, 2006

Record-Breaking Governance Prize Launched. October 26, 2006

Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Globalab Blog

Thumbs up or down for African prize?

The Mo Ibrahim Prize. Gwynne Dyer.

In support of good governance in Africa. Anja Merret.

Let Freedom Ring (Prepaid). Quentin Hardy. Forbes.

London: African Leadership Achievement Prize for Good Governance Announced. Jewels in the Jungle Blog

“…Patrick Smith, noted editor of Africa Confidential writes in his weekly newsletter:

….Some African leaders cause problems but so do its weak institutions that allow personal rule. The $5 mn. incentive would only be of interest to a narrow group, somewhere between those effective leaders who stick to their countries’ constitutional term limits and those venal, oppressive leaders for whom $5 mn. is less than a contract kickback.

More questions still are being asked about Professor Rotberg’s index of good governance. Will the Professor and his team of two researchers at Harvard complete their full governance rankings for 48 African states by the middle of next year as promised? How much will they rely on the notoriously inaccurate statistics of the World Bank, IMF and UN agencies? How much field work will they do in Africa? How many African institutions and academics will they involve?

All these issues are under consideration, Dr Mo and Professor Rotberg assured me. Clearly, there is much preparatory work to be done and big decisions to be taken if the ‘Ibrahim index’, as they call the African governance rankings, are going to have the hoped-for impact. In one respect, the Foundation is already succeeding: more people than ever are talking about standards of government in Africa, its institutions and leaders. ‘Governance has come out of the closet in Africa,’ as Dr Mo says.”

Prize offered to Africa’s leaders. BBC News. 26 Oct 2006. “…Patrick Smith, of specialist publication Africa Confidential, said: “The people who know what to do and have done well are already doing it….And the people who are doing badly and are killing their own people or stealing state resources are going to carry on doing that.”

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