The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation has announced President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia as the winner of the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Established in 2007 by Ibrahim, the Sudanese-British billionaire, the award recognizes a democratically elected African head of state who has left office within the last three years, served his/her mandated term, and demonstrated leadership in surmounting development challenges, improving the livelihoods and welfare of citizens, and consolidating the foundation for sustainable development. Recipients of the prize, which had not been awarded since 2011, receive $5 million over ten years and $200,000 annually thereafter. The foundation also considers additional grants of $200,000 a year for up to ten years in support of the prize laureate's public-interest projects.
The prize committee's citation praises Pohamba's commitment to the rule of law, the Namibian constitution, and gender equality, which has led to women holding 48 percent of the seats in the Namibian parliament. In addition, the government's focused investments in health and education have resulted in nearly 100 percent primary school enrollment, while new HIV infections have fallen an estimated 36 percent and more than 80 percent of Namibians living with HIV today receive anti-retroviral therapy. First elected in 2004 and reelected in 2009, Pohamba is due to be succeeded by president-elect Hage Geingob when his term ends on March 21.
"President Pohamba's focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia's consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the prize committee," said Salim Ahmed Salim, former secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity, a former prime minister of Tanzania and chair of the prize committee. "His ability to command the confidence and the trust of his people is exemplary. During the decade of his presidential mandate, he demonstrated sound and wise leadership. At the same time, he maintained his humility throughout his presidency."