Nairobi: Namibia’s outgoing president was today named winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for “good governance” in Africa, the world’s richest award. A lack of eligible or worthy candidates means that Hifikepunye Pohamba is only the fourth winner of the USD 5million annual prize since its launch in 2007. “President Pohamba’s focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the prize committee,” said Salim Ahmed Salim, chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Prize committee and a former prime minister of Tanzania, during the announcement of the award in Nairobi.
Salim praised Pohamba’s “sound and wise leadership” and his “humility” during his constitutional two terms. Pohamba did not contest national elections in December and is due to stand down as president on 21 March. The award, founded by Sudanese-British telecoms entrepreneur and billionaire Mo Ibrahim, is given to a democratically-elected former head of state who left office in the previous three years and who demonstrated exceptional leadership while abiding by constitutional term limits.
Winners are given USD 5 million over 10 years followed by a further USD 200,000 a year for life, and the aim of the award is to encourage and reward good governance in Africa. But the prize has only been awarded four times – in 2007, 2008 and 2011 – due to a lack of suitable candidates. Ex-presidents of Mozambique, Botswana and Cape Verde have been previous recipients of the prize.