Defining Leadership and Improving Governance in Africa Through Philanthropy

Establishing the true meaning of leadership and governance has never been more important for society, and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is championing this cause across Africa. Founded in 2006 by Sudanese-born businessman and billionaire, Mo Ibrahim, the Foundation is guided by a firm belief that leadership  and good governance are critical to Africa’s development. Unlike most large philanthropic organizations, the Foundation does not offer grants, and instead, runs the following four initiatives focused on delivering on its mission to ‘define, assess, and ultimately, enhance governance and leadership in Africa.’  

Ibrahim Index of African Governance

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is a tool created by the Foundation to measure and monitor governance levels across Africa’s 54 countries. The IIAG uses these four categories to assess government performance and decision making: Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. According to its 2016 Index Report which looked at the past decade of governance and individual country performance,  seventy percent of Africa’s population live in a country where governance has improved over the last decade; 37 out of 54 countries evaluated have risen in the index since 2006. This report and previous assessments published by the Foundation have contributed to the discourse and understanding of good governance across Africa.

Ibrahim Forum

Since 2011, the Ibrahim Forum has hosted high level convenings focused on topical development and governance issues. Previous discussions have focused on agriculture, youth employment and empowerment, future planning for Africa’s growth and new urban dynamics, and more recently, democracy and extremism. Discussants have included experts and thought leaders from the private sector, academia, African and international development organizations, and senior government leaders and representatives. The Forum takes place in a different African country every year.

Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership was created to celebrate and recognize African leadership. By design, the Prize intends to position new role models in African leadership by giving public recognition and financial awards to former democratically elected Heads of State in Africa. Since 2007, the Foundation has only given out 5 of these Prizes because its Independent Prize Committee was unable to select winners in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. Previous recipients, including former Presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana, were awarded $5 million over a 10 year period, and for the following years of life, will receive $200,000 each year.

Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship

One of the most prestigious international development fellowships for young people in Africa is the annual Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship. Each year, the Foundation selects successful applicants under 40 years of age (or 45 for women with children) and with 7-10 years of experience to participate in a work placement and career mentorship at one of the following partner organizations: African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, or International Trade Center. Fellows earn an annual $100,000 stipend and are exposed to a unique career experience and given opportunities to contribute to Africa’s development agenda through these organizations.

In addition to these four major initiatives, the Foundation also offers the Mo Ibrahim Scholarship to support rising African talent attending select Universities. All together, these efforts have helped define, assess, and influence leadership and governance in Africa. Led by a dynamic Executive Director, Hadeel Ibrahim (Mo Ibrahim’s daughter) and supported by a diverse international board made up of global influencers like Graca Machel and Donald Kaberuka, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is uniquely poised to continue another decade of impact in Africa.

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