Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim, the Sudanese-British billionaire who founded Celtel, after selling the company in 2005 for three point four billion dollars decided to set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The Foundation that was set up in 2006 is aimed at encouraging better governance in Africa.
In 2007, it initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in Africa Leadership, the world largest prize that exceeds Nobel Prize for Peace. The Prize comes with an initial award of five million dollars and an annual payment of two hundred thousand dollars for life to any African head of state that focuses on the development of health, education, security and economy of his or her country and democratically transfers power to his or her successor.
The first prize in 2007 was awarded to Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique for his role in leading the country from conflict to peace and democracy, and Nelson Mandela (His was honorary). In 2008 it was awarded to President Festus Mogae of Botswana for his outstanding leadership in ensuring stability and prosperity in the country despite the HIV/AIDS pandemic that threatened the future of the country. No award was given in 2009 and 2010, but the 2011 award went to President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde for transforming the country.
In 2012, it was declared by the chairman of the committee that there was no suitable candidate for the prize. The subsequent year, there was no award also. However, in 2014, the award went to Namibia President, Hifikepunye Pohamba.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in 2017/18 went to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia who navigated the direction of her country towards a peaceful and democratic future. And for her successor, she successfully paved the path to follow.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the 24th President of Liberia in 2006. She was the first elected female head of state in Africa. And the first female head of state to win the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement.