A retired African businessman has launched a multi-million dollar prize to be awarded to African leaders who demonstrate excellence in political leadership.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is to administer the prize, which consists of $5 million distributed over 10 years, followed by a $200,000 payment per year for the life of the recipient.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is meant to reward former African heads of state who showed excellence in governance during their terms in office.
At the Nairobi launch of the prize, businessman Ibrahim said it is time for Africans and their governments to get serious and take responsibility for themselves.
"We cannot keep blaming our state on the colonial powers, the burden of the white man, what happened here: this does not wash anymore," he said. "The state of Africa today: the poverty; the disease; the lack of clean water; the lack of electricity; the lack of education; the lack of jobs for our kids; all really rests with us. We have suffered a major failure in leadership in Africa over the past 40 years."
Ibrahim said he hopes the prize will encourage African leaders to be more responsible and work towards the best interests of their people.
Candidates are to be assessed by a good governance index developed at Harvard University that measures national progress in five key areas.
These are: economic development; human development, particularly in the areas of health and education; transparency and empowerment of civil society; democracy and human rights; and rule of law and security.
The first prize is to be handed out in 2007.
Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese by birth, is founder of Celtel International, a mobile telephone company with operations across Africa.