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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Judging African Leaders by Good Governance

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim believes there is nothing more important for Africa than good leadership. Mister Ibrahim has created the world's richest prize, worth five million dollars over ten years. The winner also will receive two hundred thousand dollars every year for life. An additional two hundred thousand dollars a year will be made available for good causes supported by the winner.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be awarded for the first time in October. Former heads of state and government from African countries south of the Sahara Desert will be considered. Candidates must have left office in the past three years and have shown good political leadership.

Mo Ibrahim (left) meeting with Kofi Annan in Geneva, Switzerland, April 2, 2007
Mo Ibrahim (left) meeting with Kofi Annan in Geneva, Switzerland, April 2, 2007

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will lead the committee that will choose the winner. The committee will examine research from a special rating system. The Ibrahim Index for African Governance will measure national progress in several areas. They include economic and social development, peace and security, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The index was developed at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kofi Annan says good governance is the single most important way to end poverty and support development. He says the idea behind the Mo Ibrahim prize is to produce better leadership and governance in Africa. In a similar way, the Nobel Prize has supported scientists to excel in medicine, physics, chemistry and other areas.

Mister Ibrahim says the prize is not meant to reform dishonest leaders, nor will it end corruption in Africa. And, he says the prize may not be given every year. If no excellent candidate is identified, Mister Ibrahim says the money will be used for other important causes. These include leadership programs or financial assistance for African students.

Mo Ibrahim says he can think of no better way to spend his money than to invest in Africa's future. The Sudanese billionaire started a mobile phone business, Celtel International, nine years ago. It is now one of Africa's most successful companies.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. You can read scripts and download audio of Special English programs at our Web site, www.unsv.com. I'm Bob Doughty.

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