Monday, October 15, 2012

Mo Ibrahim Prize

Once again we're witnessing the embarrassing spectacle of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for good governance lacking a winner. I myself was always skeptical of how Mr Ibrahim, despite his noble intentions, could find a winner for his prize, year in and year out.

First of all,  there are 54 African countries of which only a handful (Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde) have progressed into fluid democracies, with robust, free-and-fair elections. The rest have not and are often ruled by aging leaders who resolutely refuse to leave their posts. That's why your average African President is a doddering geriatric in his mid-to-late 70s.

So, it would have been a stretch -- if not mathematically impossible -- for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to find a candidate who met their criteria, year in and year out, given the "dead wood" of African leadership they were working with. If one handed the stats of Africa's leadership to an actuary, and gave him the criteria used for the award, he would probably have concluded that winners of the award would be few and far between.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with Mo Ibrahim's prize or his noble intentions. It's just that the "dead wood" of Africa's geriatric leadership makes finding a candidate who meets his strict criteria an almost impossible task.