The Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership will not be awarded in 2012. Several candidates were considered, but the board says, "none met the criteria needed." But, the Ibrahim Index, ranking African nations was released.
At a press conference in London on Monday, a spokesperson for the board of the world's biggest individual award said the Mo Ibrahim foundation was not going to compromise on the standard it sought for excellence in an African leader and therefore the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership would not be awarded this year.
"The prize committee reviewed a number of eligible candidates but none met the criteria needed to win this award. The award is about excellence in leadership," they said.
The $5 million (3.85 million euros) prize pool, paid annually over 10 years was established in 2007 by Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim and is awarded to a democratically-elected former executive head of state or government who served their full term, and who left office within the last three years. "They must have left it in a better state than when [they] arrived," Nathalie Delapalme, Director, Research and Policy at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation told DW. Laureates, she added, are role models for the continent.
Since its inception, the prize has only been awarded three times.
In 2011, Cape Verde's former leader, Pedro Verona Pires won the prize for "leading his country from a single party, very poor, hungry country, to a democracy," Depapalme said when asked what was so special about the past winners. His vision in transforming Cape Verde into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity made him a worthy recipient of the prize, she added.
Botswana's past president Festus Mogae was awarded the accolade in 2008 and Mozambique's former president Joaquim Chissano became an Ibrahim Laureate in 2007.
South Africa's Nelson Mandela was made an honorary laureate in 2006.
Former archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded a special one-off award in October, which the Foundation said was "in recognition of his life-long commitment to speaking the truth to power."
The London-based organization also published the results of the Ibrahim Index – ranking 52 African nations against 88 indicators classified under safety and rule of law, sustainable economic opportunity, participation and human rights and human development.
This year's top five have not changed since 2011, with Mauritius heading the list, followed by Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles and South Africa.
Somalia remains at bottom on the table, behind Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.
While there had been major improvements in some sectors, the board's chair, Dr. Ibrahim, said at the announcement, "the continents main players were lagging behind."
According to the report, Ibrahim added "the four main powerhouses in Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, appear to be really stuttering. They are not showing really convincing progress."
On the upside, Ibrahim said, "between 2000 and 2011 there was a marked improvement in governance across Africa."
"The major improvements were in health, the rural sector and the economy. The interesting development was in gender. Gender has improved amazingly over the last 10-11 years."