Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes the first woman to claim the Mo Ibrahim Leadership Award

Former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, joins the list of five former heads of state to be awarded the Mo Ibrahim leadership award. The Mo Ibrahim prize is $5 million (Sh502.8 million) which is spread over 10 years and is followed by $200,000 a year for life.

She is the fifth recipient of the prize since 2007, which celebrates African leaders who governed well, raised living standards and then left office. To qualify, African heads of state have to have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.

Salim Ahmed Salim, the head of the prize committee, said: “Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focussed on building a nation and its democratic institutions.

Throughout her two terms in office, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia. Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings and, today, Liberia continues to face many challenges. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build.”
British-Sudanese BT engineer turned telecommunications billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who the award is named after, expressed his elation, saying the award sent a “strong message to all African women and African girls that they could help change the continent”.

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