Africa’s Ironwoman wins $5m Mo Ibrahim’s African leadership prize

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first woman to the leadership laureate since its inception in 2007.

The immediate former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has been declared the winner of $5 million Mo Ibrahim’s prize for African Leadership in 2017.

According to the prize committee, Ms Sirleaf has shown an exceptional leadership in a difficult situation while serving as president of Liberia. This made the committee to settle for her amongst other shortlisted African leaders.

Announcing the decision, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the Prize Committee, said: “Ellen Johnson 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.”

Just last month (January 2018), Sirleaf handed over power to George Weah to mark the first democratic transition of power in the country after the civil war.

Sirleaf was praised for her leading the rebuilding of Liberia and reconciliation of warlords and power blocks in the country.

On this decision, Mo Ibrahim said he is happy to see the first female laureate of the prize.

“I’m delighted that the Prize Committee has decided to make Ellen Johnson Sirleaf an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. In very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow.”

“I am proud to see the first woman Ibrahim Laureate, and I hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will continue to inspire women in Africa and beyond,” Mo Ibrahim said after the announcement.

What is Mo Ibrahim’s African Leadership Prize

The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award set up in 2007 by Sudanese-born businessman and billionaire, Mo Ibrahim, to celebrate exceptional leadership skills and development thrives of African leaders.

Criteria for the Ibrahim Prize include former African executive heads of state or government, He/she must have left office during the last three calendar years and must be democratically elected.

Others criteria are the leader must served their constitutionally mandated term and show exceptional leadership towards the development of his/her country.

The prize is paid over ten years and an additional annual payment of US$200,000 for life thereafter.

Previous winners of the prize

2007: Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano

2007: Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate.

2008: Botswana’s former President Festus Mogae

2009: No award is given

2010: No award is given

2011: Cape Verde’s former President Pedro Verona Pires

2012: No award is given

2013: No award is given

2014: Namibia’s former President Hifikipunye Pohamba

2015: No award is given

2016: No award is given

Source: Pulse. Ng