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Measuring Leadership: Ibrahim Index Fails to Find Good African Governance

Dr moThe Mo Ibrahim foundation gives away $5 million dollars annually to ex African leaders who practiced good governance. This year they couldn’t find a winner.

The foundation’s notion of “good governance” hinges on what they call the ‘Ibrahim Index of African Governance‘–a rating system that measures a range of issues from poverty to corruption.

The findings are meant to be a measuring stick of African progress . It’s the equivalent of the Fortune 500–it’s just on a political scale, with foggier data and dictators.

What’s a Good Leadership Index?

The Ibrahim Index can’t be perfect. And on Mr. Ibrahim’s own admission, it’s not. No leadership index can be. That the Ibrahim Index appraises leaders on their ability to get things done rather than by their charisma is important. Looking at results over stated goals and favoring accomplishments over grand visions is the only way to begin a reliable leadership assessment.

Further, the Ibrahim Index doesn’t look for big, seismic changes. Rather, they are looking for nuts and bolts skills that can, for instance, get communities access to medicine and kids enrolled in schools.

These components make the Ibrahim Index a good measuring stick for political leaders in Africa. Some argue that Mr. Ibrahim’s prize ‘bribes’ leaders to do the job they should do. I’d argue that Mr. Ibrahim’s prize should be considered a bonus for any leader who can get things done in a continent rife with social and economic problems.



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