With all the civil unrest and political corruption usually reported about Africa, it’s refreshing to read Anne Jolis’ article about Mohammed Ibrahim and the Mohammed Ibrahim Foundation. The Foundation is shunning traditional developmental aid models to encourage change within African countries by rewarding heads of state for good governance and less corruption!

“The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, begun in 2006, tracks the quality of governance across Africa and awards cash prizes to leaders who leave office with relatively uncorrupt records.

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership offers a tidy $5 million over 10 years and then $200,000 annually for life. You might call it offering payoffs to leaders who don’t take payoffs.”

Paying off politicians and leaders that don’t accept payoffs. A revolutionary idea? Yes.

As Mr. Ibrahim stated “better governance, though, ‘will open up the continent for investment.” He further explains that “investment will create jobs, and when people have decent jobs, they look after themselves, they look after the education of their kids, they look after their health.” So, it would only seem natural that more philanthropists would be promoting a different model from the current developmental aid schemes.

Perhaps, Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s method is too controversial to be popular. In the world of philanthropy we get lost in the all the hoopla of buzzwords, such as impact, outcomes, theory of change, and collective impact and sometimes forget that the end goal is supposed to make each person’s life better and more humane, right?

I could stand on a soapbox for a couple of months discussing what is wrong with development aid policies in Africa. But, I am more concerned as to why wasn’t this prize thought of sooner? And why aren’t more nonprofit blogs besides Gift Hub starting frank discussions to encourage other models of international development besides foreign aid and micro-finance?


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Well, what do you think?