Issoufou Mahamadou, president of Niger, has been announced winner of the 2020 Mo Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership.
Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the award, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership.
He was awarded in recognition of his “exceptional leadership after inheriting one of the world’s poorest economies facing seemingly insurmountable challenges”.
The prize has been awarded since 2007 by the foundation set up by Mo Ibrahim, British-Sudanese telecommunications businessman.
It has, however, not been awarded since 2018 over “lack of a suitable winner”.
There was also no recipient in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016.
The prize was last awarded in 2017 to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian president — she is currently the only female recipient of the award.
Announcing Issoufou’s victory on Monday, Festus Mogae, chairman of the prize committee and former president of Botswana, commended Mahamadou for his leadership qualities.
“In the face of the most severe political and economic issues, including violent extremism and increasing desertification, President Mahamadou Issoufou has led his people on a path of progress,” Mogae said.
“Today, the number of Nigeriens living below the poverty line has fallen to 40%, from 48% a decade ago.
“While challenges remain, Issoufou has kept his promises to the Nigerien people and paved the way for a better future. After careful consideration, the Committee finds President Issoufou a worthy winner of the Ibrahim Prize.”
Issoufou, aged 68, became the first democratically-elected Nigerien president in 2011, following many years of military rule in the country.
He was elected for a second term in 2016, and will step down in April after 10 years in office.
According to the prize committee, Mahamadou’s decision to step down also demonstrates “his clear respect for the constitution”.
Winners of the Mo Ibrahim prize receive $5 million over 10 years, and $200,000 annually for the rest of their lives.