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Inside Story

Where are Africa's leaders?

As no recipient is chosen for the Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership, we ask where the continent's role models are.

Last Modified: 15 Oct 2013 10:34
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The Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership was established in 2006 by Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim. The prize seeks to recognise and support Africa's best leaders. But, since 2007, only three former African presidents have won it. 

This year's winner was supposed to be announced on Monday, but one of the eight judges on the prize committee, Salim Ahmed, instead issued a statement saying: "This prize honours former heads of state or government, who, during their mandate, have demonstrated excellence in leading their country, and by doing so, serve as role models for the next generation. After careful consideration, the prize committee has determined not to award the 2013 Prize for Excellence in Leadership."

Africa is quite a big continent, but we are not able to get a role model in terms of leadership. For me it's not surprising, because if you look at Africa, you don't see the kind of leader that can qualify for the award …. We still have a long way [to go] to establish the kind of democracy that Africa requires.

Denise Kodhe, a commentator on African governance and politics

The prize is aimed at recognising exceptional role models for the continent and winners must have been democratically elected and have helped develop their country, tackled poverty or paved the way for sustainable growth.
 
It is the largest annually awarded prize in the world with $5m given over 10 years and $200,000 every year after that.

Joaquim Chissano, the president of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005, won the first award in 2007 for "his role in leading his country from conflict to peace and democracy".
 
The following year, Festus Mogae, Botswana's president between 1998 and 2008, was recognised for maintaining stability and prosperity despite an HIV and AIDS pandemic that threatened the country. 
 
In 2011, Pedro Pires, the president of Cape Verde from 2001 to 2011, won for making his country "a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity".

But on a continent where some presidents tend to stay beyond their constitutionally mandated terms, political violence is rife and access to water and sanitation is limited for many, there is some - albeit underreported - good news. 
 
Parts of the continent are enjoying an economic boom, with nations like Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria among the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Linked to that growth is the rise of the middle class, with the number of middle class Africans tripling over the past 30 years to three-hundred-and-thirteen million, or about 34 percent of the continent's population.  

So, what are the root causes of bad governance in Africa? Does the continent really need a prize to reward its leaders? And is democracy a model that fits all?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, is joined by guests: Denis Kodhe, a commentator on African governance and politics; Ayo Johnson, an award-winning journalist on African development; and Aly-Khan Satchu, the CEO of Rich Management in Nairobi.

"Well I think it's disappointing, it's sad, but it is true a reflection of how far the continent has gone. It shows that you have a continent that is really at a cross roads, a continent that is meeting a lot of challenges ... you have a continent that has an evolving population ... [that] are putting extreme pressure on the governments' structures. And, of course, what do you find? You find a revolution."

Ayo Johnson, an award-winning journalist

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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