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This chapter is from the book

The Need for Leadership

Celtel founder Mo Ibrahim recognized the power of entrepreneurship, as well as government leadership, in transforming Africa. He built Celtel, one of Africa's most successful start-ups and largest indigenous fortunes, at a time when few recognized the potential of the African cell phone market. Then he used his wealth to establish an annual $5 million prize, plus $200,000 for life, for retired African leaders who rule well and then stand down. This award is larger than the Nobel Peace Prize. (In many countries, retired leaders received no benefits, increasing the incentive for corruption to ensure security after leaving office.) The first prize was awarded in 2007 to Mozambique President Joaquim A. Chissano, who retired in 2004 after helping to end a 16-year civil war in his country. Ibrahim also created the Ibrahim Index of African Governance to rank the quality of governance in sub-Saharan nations (see sidebar).24 He is demonstrating how entrepreneurial success can become a driver for political and social development.

Patrick Awuah, a U.S.-educated Ghanaian native and former Microsoft engineer, also recognized the need to cultivate leadership. Awuah founded the Ashesi University to prepare future leaders in Africa. "I came to the conclusion that the most important reason Africa is in the shape it is in is because of a shortage of leadership," he said in a phone interview with the author. "If people like me don't become engaged, who else is going to do it?"26 Former McKinsey consultant Fred Swaniker (also from Ghana) recognized this same need when he set up the African Leadership Academy for high school students in South Africa. "Societies are made or broken by relatively few individuals in those societies," Swaniker said in a May 2007 interview with the author, noting the positive impact Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu had on Africa, and the negative effect of other leaders. "We are identifying those people who can serve as change agents for Africa." With a similar impulse, Belgian NGO Echos Communication established the Harubuntu competition (from a Kirundi word meaning "there is value in this place") to recognize the "men and women who are driving Africa forward" by fostering projects that "foster hope and create wealth" (www.harubuntu.net).

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