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In London today, Kofi Annan announced Joaquim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique, as the first winner of the largest award in the world--the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The award consists of $5 million over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life, as well as up to $200,000 a year for 10 years "towards the winner's public interest activities and good causes". President Chissano was praised for putting his country on a path towards peace and democracy and for a variety of economic reforms. He was also commended for NOT seeking a third term. The prize is funded by the UK based telcom entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, who sold his pan-African company CelTel to Kuwait-based MTC for $3.4 billion in 2005.
Will the Mo Ibrahim Prize lead to better governance in Africa? Its emphasis on economic reforms, the fight against HIV/AIDS, peace building, and democracy is clearly a step in the right direction. Whether it is enough to reduce corruption and improve the performance of African leaders--particularly the worst offenders--is difficult to predict. But we should note that Mr Ibrahim is an exceptionally successful man, and can perhaps make headway in an area where more conventional efforts have failed.
On February 23, CGD President Nancy Birdsall will deliver the first Kapuscinski Development Lecture of 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Her lecture, “The New Middle Class in the Developing World: Does It Matter?” will take a hard look at what it means to be middle class in developing countries and explore the role of strugglers, the rapidly expanding group of people caught between extreme poverty and the middle class.