No winner for the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 March 2020:

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation yesterday announced that there is no winner of the 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. This decision has been made following deliberations by the independent Prize Committee, the statement says.

Announcing the decision, Prize Committee Chair Festus Mogae commented: “The Ibrahim Prize recognises truly exceptional leadership in Africa, celebrating role models for the continent. It is awarded to individuals who have, through the outstanding governance of their country, brought peace, stability and prosperity to their people. Based on these rigorous criteria, the Prize Committee could not award the Prize in 2019.”

Commenting on the decision, Mo Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said: “Africa is facing some of the toughest challenges in the world – ranging from those connected to population growth, and economic development, to environmental impact.

“We need leaders who can govern democratically and translate these challenges into opportunities. With two-thirds of our citizens now living in better-governed countries than ten years ago, we are making progress. I am optimistic that we will have the opportunity to award this Prize to a worthy candidate soon.”

The Ibrahim Prize aims to celebrate leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development.

The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are former African executive Heads of State or Government who have left their office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.

Supporters of the former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, whose APC party lost presidential election in March 2018, are expecting the former president to clinch the award possibly in 2021.

But critics are questioning his democratic credentials, as well as his leadership role in failing to address the deep structural problems facing the country’s economy, rampant corruption and the political divide that threatened the stability of the nation. (Photo: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). 

Previous recipients of the award are: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (2017), President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007). Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

The Ibrahim Prize:

  • Recognises and celebrates African leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries, lifted people out of poverty and paved the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity;
  • Highlights exceptional role models for the continent;
  • Ensures that the African continent continues to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent;
  • Is an award and a standard for excellence in leadership in Africa, and not a ‘first prize’, there is not necessarily a Laureate every year.

Award Criteria:

  • Former African Executive Head of State or Government
  • Left office in the last three years
  • Democratically elected
  • Served his/her constitutionally mandated term
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership
  • The Ibrahim Prize is the largest annually awarded prize in the world, consisting of US$5 million over ten years

The winner of the Ibrahim Prize is selected by an independent Prize Committee, appointed by the Foundation Board, comprised of:

  • Festus Mogae – Former President of Botswana; 2008 Ibrahim Prize Laureate and Chair of the Prize Committee since 1 January 2020
  • Aïcha Bah Diallo – President, Network for Education for All in Africa; Former Minister of Education in Guinea
  • Mohamed ElBaradei – Director General Emeritus, International Atomic Energy Agency; Nobel Laureate
  • Horst Köhler – Former UNSG Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Former President of Germany
  • Graça Machel – President, Foundation for Community Development; Former Minister of Education in Mozambique; Mo Ibrahim Foundation Board Member
  • Mary Robinson – Chair of The Elders; UN Special Envoy for El Nino and Climate; Former UN Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region of Africa; Former President of Ireland; Mo Ibrahim Foundation Board Member.

Previous members:

  • Salim Ahmed Salim (Chair 2011 – 2019) | Former Secretary-General, OAU; Former Prime Minister of Tanzania; MIF Board Member
  • Kofi Annan (dcd) (Chair 2007 – 2011) | Former UN Secretary General, United Nations
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2007 – 2008) | Former Minister of the Economy & Minister of Finance, Nigeria; Former Vice President, World Bank
  • Martti Ahtisaari (2007 – 2018) | Former President of Finland; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate


  1. “Supporters of the former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, whose APC party lost presidential election in March 2018, are expecting the former president to clinch the award possibly in 2021.” Is there a box-plot showcasing those who anticipate the former President to be honored to those who don’t? If so, do the numbers of anticipators, in comparison to the none anticipators accumulate to anything worth mentioning?

    By God, I can only imagine the state of sleep/slavery that the supposed supporters, or whoever thinks that this man is worthy of an honor for good leadership are on. I’m not a praying man, but I pray to God to never be in that state of sleepiness in my lifetime.

    I could be wrong here, but the supporters who think that EBK should receive an honor of this magnitude could be closely related to him, for I heard he can be a very generous man to family members and those who he consider that. I was told by a close relative of his that he likes to splurge. That’s right, he is a man who has no qualms sharing bread with relatives, which to me implies that he is a family man, but a nation’s leader – a good one at that – he was never that.

  2. Whosoever thinks that Ernest Koroma is a valuable Candidate as a Winner of the Mo Ibrahim Award is just making him look like a laughing stock. After being in governance for eleven good years with nothing to show for, will definitely won’t qualify him to be a Winner. His leadership was a disaster for Sierra Leone as he left behind a battered economy and weakened educational system; not forgotting his tribalistic crusade towards the citizens of the South and South-East of Sierra Leone.

    • Disappointing stuff. Another ” infodemic” narrative on this glorious platform again. After the Coronavirus becoming a pandemic and stretching its muscles globally, now, our glorious platform has started to have some “Infodemic” information without substance or proof. I hope people say the truth without bombarding others with fake “Infodemic” news. Could Mr. Ibrahim Tunkara explain what he meant by “tribalistic crusade towards the citizens of the South and South- East of Sierra Leone”? Please reply to me as soon as possible Mr. Ibrahim Tunkara. We go from there. God bless Mr Ibrahim Tunkara.

  3. Hear them again, raging their sarcastic remarks on our revered ex President Ernest Bai Koroma, with absolutely no substance in the points they are trying to make. God bless our former revered President Ernest Bai Koroma. May God guide and protect him so that he makes sure, he provides Sierra Leone with the leadership that will trigger that tsunami election victory in 2023. “On va les écraser”. We will be ready and prepared to make sure it happens in 2023. Again God bless our ex revered President.

  4. No winners for 2019 huh? Well,with such high standards set by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in a continent overcrowded with selfish,little-minded, criminal leaders,who knows when,or whether there will be another winner again? Geez! What more can a thoughtful,visionary, Philanthropist do,but to put solid structures in place in order to persuade,encourage,and inspire Africa,and its leaders to do the right, honourable thing by using their gifts, abilities, and talents to move our continent forward, and our people from the shackles, and bonds of abject poverty? A damn shame no one could measure up. None! There’s a Pot of Gold up for grabs,that’s too hot to handle,a rare ripened fruit dangling high,at the top of a tree no one was able climb.(lol)

    Who would have thought, that there are heights that a thieving bunch of kleptomaniac African leaders,who have mastered the art of rampant robberies, looting, and thefts will not be able to ascend.(lol) But there’s a flip side also to this coin. A thief that enters the temple of a Priest and finds a note on the wall that says;” Do not steal the vessels made of Gold,You will be blessed,” will laugh, and reply with the words of an African leader; “A bird in hand is worth hundreds in the bush, I’ll take my blessings now,yet your words are good,and true,a message none can refute” (lol)

    And so he steals everything,wipes the place clean with his ungodly hands,just like a get rich quick,greedy African leader in power.(lol) Seriously,the Mo Ibrahim Prize is not attractive to men who can get their corrupt hands, easily on billions of dollars,grab,and walked away with it,without breaking a drop of sweat.(lol) Live now they say, while there’s still time for tomorrow never, ever comes (lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  5. “Supporters of the former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, whose APC party lost presidential election in March 2018, are expecting the former president to clinch the award possibly in 2021.”

    I found it difficult to stop laughing upon reading the quoted words above. I believe that the Mo Ibrahim award was established precisely to discourage future African leaders from following the path of despots and rogues like Ernest Bai koroma.
    Why would a tribalist, a regionalist and a quintessential thief like Ernest Koroma be compensated for wrecking his nation? Would that be new normal for international awards?

    The only compensation that Ernest Koroma deserves, in my opinion, is dressing him up in an orange jump suit and locking him up at the notorious Pademba Road prisons for life. The guy brought nothing to his people but intense suffering and abject poverty. And as I write, he is living it up in a mansion in Makeni with his ill-gotten loot when his next-door neighbor can barely eke out a living.

    The name Ernest Koroma should never be mentioned in the same sentence with the Mo Ibrahim award. It is an insult to the new democratic process in Africa.

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