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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wins Ibrahim Prize for exemplary African leadership

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the fifth winner of the $5m (£3.6m) Ibrahim prize for Achievement in African Leadership thus solidifying her legacy in governance as Africa’s first elected female president.



Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the fifth winner of the $5m (£3.6m) Ibrahim prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The prize money of $5m for the annual Ibrahim Prize is paid out over 10 years and then $200,000 each year for the rest of the winner’s life for their achievement in African leadership. Mrs. Sirleaf has been praised for her work in rebuilding the nation after civil war and leading a process of reconciliation. Despite many accusing her of tolerating corruption, she had shown exceptional leadership in difficult circumstances which the prize committee found exceptional. According to them Liberia is the only country out of 54 to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG); created by the British-Sudanese BT engineer turned telecommunications billionaire Mo Ibrahim; is a tool that measures and monitors governance performance in African countries. According to the foundation website in the IIAG, country performance in delivering governance is measured across four key components that effectively provide indicators of a country’s Overall Governance performance i.e. Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

Mrs. Sirleaf is only the fifth winner of the annual Ibrahim Prize for achievement in African leadership since its launch in 2006, as it is only given out when there is a worthy candidate. Speaking on the lack of a winner for 2017, Salim Ahmed Salim, the head of the prize committee said: “A very high bar was deliberately set when the prize was launched in 2006 … the prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition.”


Read: Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “it’s time for the new generation to take over.”

To qualify, African heads of state have to have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term according to the foundations website.

The Mo Ibrahim prize has become a valuable benchmark for excellence on the continent (Pictured Mo Ibrahim) Source: Ben Stanstall/Getty

Read: No winner of 2015 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Salim, said: “Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focussed on building a nation and its democratic institutions. Throughout her two terms in office, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia. Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings and, today, Liberia continues to face many challenges. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build.”

Previous laureates include: President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007) and Nelson Mandela as the inaugural honorary laureate in (2007).