Mo Ibrahim prize: Namibia President Pohamba gets $5m award


The outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba has won the world’s most valuable individual award, the Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership.

The $5m (£3.2m) award is given each year to an elected leader who governed well, raised living standards and then left office.

But the previous award was the fourth in five years to have gone unclaimed.

Mr Pohamba, a former rebel who fought for his country’s independence, has served two terms as Namibian president.

He was first elected in 2004, and again in 2009. He is due to be succeeded by President-elect, Hage Geingob.

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Who is Hifikepunye Pohamba?

  • Born in 1935 in northern Namibia – a region that would become a base for the Swapo liberation movement
  • Educated by missionaries and employed in a copper mine as a young man
  • Co-founder of Swapo and close ally of Namibia’s first President, Sam Nujoma
  • Jailed for political activism by South African-backed authorities, later left to study in the Soviet Union
  • Worked on land reform as minister in post-independence Namibia
  • Was chosen by Mr Nujoma to succeed him as president in 2004
  • Gradually emerged from Mr Nujoma’s shadow as a soft-spoken consensus builder
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Mr Pohamba was a founding member of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo), an armed movement that waged a decades-long campaign against South African rule.

Since the country won independence in 1990, Swapo has dominated politics, usually winning huge majorities in elections.

Mr Pohamba, 80, was named recipient of the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mo Ibrahim is a British-Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and philanthropist who made billions from investing in Africa.

He launched the prize to encourage African leaders to leave power peacefully.

The inaugural prize was awarded in 2007 to Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president, who has since acted as a mediator in several African disputes.

The $5m prize is spread over 10 years and is followed by $200,000 a year for life.


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