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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.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.