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Mo Ibrahim Foundation Announces Winner of 2008 Prize

Oct 21, 2008, 5:38 AM

Festus Gontebanye Mogae, the former President of Botswana, was announced yesterday as the winner of the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Established to recognise and celebrate excellence in African leadership, the Ibrahim Prize is the largest annually awarded prize in the world, consisting of US$5 million over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. The Foundation will consider granting a further $200,000 per year for ten years towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the Laureate, a news release from the MO Ibrahim foundation says yesterday.

Announcing the 2008 Ibrahim Laureate in front of an audience of London's African diplomatic community, civil society representatives and the media, Kofi Annan, the Chair of the Prize Committee, said: "President Mogae's outstanding leadership has ensured Botswana's continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic which threatened the future of his country and people."

Kofi Annan went on to praise President Mogae's stewardship of the Botswanan economy. He said: "Botswana demonstrates how a country with natural resources can promote sustainable development with good governance, in a continent where too often mineral wealth has become a curse."

The Ibrahim Prize has been established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, launched in October 2006 as an initiative to support great African leadership. The 2008 Ibrahim Laureate was selected by the Prize Committee of six eminent individuals. The Prize Committee assesses democratically elected former Executive Heads of State or Government from sub-Saharan African countries who have served their term in office within the limits set by their country's constitution, and have left office within the last three years.

The announcement of this year's Ibrahim Laureate comes a fortnight after the publication of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa. Assessed against 57 criteria, the Ibrahim Index ranks sub-Saharan African nations according to governance performance. The Ibrahim Index is one of a number of independent and authoritative sources which, the Prize Committee uses in its deliberations.

On hearing the outcome of the Prize Committee's deliberations, according to the release, Mo Ibrahim, the founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: "I am delighted that the Prize Committee has selected President Mogae as the second Ibrahim Laureate. He is another example of outstanding leadership from the African continent. I offer President Mogae my warmest congratulations and best wishes."

In October 2007, Joaquim Chissano, the former President of Mozambique, became the inaugural Ibrahim Laureate. The Prize Committee's citation praised President Chissano's "achievements in bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to his country".