Africa’s rich visionary

Mo Ibrahim guest at NAD 2014

Good leaders are necessary for Africa to rise from poverty. With this insight mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim instituted a prize for African leadership. On 26 September, he is holding his key note ‘Why Governance Matters’ during the Nordic Africa Days in Uppsala. The speech is open for the public.

To hand out an annual prize in order to produce better leaders in Africa’s 54 countries may seem overly ambitious. But when Sudan-born engineer Mo Ibrahim created his prize for African leadership in the year 2007 he had already played a role in one African revolution. As head of one of Africa’s largest mobile phone companies he had introduced a technical innovation that changed the lives of millions of Africans.

It was the sale of two successful mobile phone companies that placed Mo Ibrahim high on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people. It also allowed for philanthropic work of unusual proportions. With a prize sum of 5 million US dollars the award is considerably larger than for example the Nobel prize.

The stated aims of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation are to "bring about meaningful change on the continent, by providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance". The prize is awarded to former heads of state or government who governed well and then left power in accordance with democratic principles.

The foundation keeps an annual scorecard of leaders in each African country through the Mo Ibrahim Index, based on 94 indicators, developed together with Harvard University.

Mo Ibrahim was born in Sudan in 1946 and describes himself as Nubian. He studied radio communications at the University of Alexandria , Egypt, before moving to Great Britain in order to specialise in the field of mobile communications.

“I found the work thrilling and absorbing. I certainly had no idea it would make me a lot of money.” he said in an interview with The Observer.

Mo Ibrahim lives in Mayfair, London, together with his wife Haina. Their daughter Hadeel Ibrahim is Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, their son Hosh Ibrahim is an actor.  

Invitation to Key Note lecture September 26, 2014, 13.00-15.00 at Uppsala University Grand Auditorium (pdf opens in new window). The lecture is open to the public and will also be live streamed at the NAI website.

Use the hash tag #NAD2014 on Twitter.

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