Foreign Policy Blogs

Govern Well, Make Money!

Can good governance be encouraged through financial incentives? Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim believes it can be and he has established a prize in his name to do so

Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan will head the committee making the award, which “will go to former presidents and prime ministers from sub-Saharan Africa who left office in the three years prior and who showed exemplary leadership while in power” and will consist of $5-million over 10 years and then $200 000 each year for the remainder of the recipient's life. In addition the award-winner will receive another $200 000 annually for charities and other good deeds behind which they put their names. Nelson Mandela is one of many leaders to have placed his support behind the Mo Ibrahim Prize. 

Ibrahim has clearly identified a need area for sub-Saharan Africa. Corruption, kleptocracy, tyranny, and chaos are rife in too many countries stretching north from the Cape of Good Hope. But there is something untoward about all of this, and I cannot quite put my finger on it. Perhaps the problem is simply providing such a huge “reward” for something that ought to be a basic expectation of any leader.

At the same time, Ibrahim's gesture at least represents an effort to do something to address an issue that continues to plague the region, and the fact that Mandela and others have gotten on board leads me to leave my skepticism at the door at least for the time being.