President Pohamba wins Mo Ibrahim award for leadership in Africa

The outgoing Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba was yesterday announced as the winner of the Mo Ibrahim award for leadership in Africa. The ceremony was held in Nairobi on 2 March. The Ibrahim Prize is the largest annually awarded prize in the world. Its recipients are awarded with $5-million over 10 years and $200 000 per year for life afterwards.

Jay Naidoo, board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, spoke to Kieno Kammies about the efforts that earned President Pohamba the award. Naidoo outlined the efforts as:

  • He fully supports the rule of law
  • He respects the constitution
  • He respects political opposition
  • He answers questions in Parliament
  • Education in Namibia: high level of literacy and 100 percent enrolment of children
  • HIV/AIDS: He implemented a comprehensive program of ARVs. The HIV infection rate dropped by 34 percent between 2005 and 2013. Mother to child transmission is below four percent.

Naidoo also spoke about key differences between South Africa and other African countries. He gave reference to Kenya, spending far less money on education than South Africa yet achieving far greater outcomes.

If we want to celebrate leadership; what are we doing as government to create a pathway of hope and opportunity for the most important resources the country has - our young children? Yet our education system continues to fail them.

Since its inception in 2007, the Mo Ibrahim prize was won by three former presidents: Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique in 2007, Festus Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana in 2008 and Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires from Cape Verde in 2011.

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