Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been named recipient of the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the Ibrahim Foundation announced Monday.
The prize is a USD$5 million award paid over 10 years with $200,000 annually for life thereafter, with an optional and additional $200,000 per year for philanthropic or public interest initiatives championed by Sirleaf. She served two terms as Liberian president from 2006 to 2017, which were praised as exceptional and transformative by the prize committee.
“She took over a country that was devastated and broken by 14 years of civil war, and was later struck again by the Ebola crisis,” the committee statement said. “Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings. Today, Liberia continues to face many challenges. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build.”
In the process, she restored Liberians’ dignity and pride in their country, the committee added. They noted Liberia is the only African country to improve on all measures of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance during her years of tenure. Her achievements have inspired and given confidence to millions of women in public service, they said, and she has always been a champion for Africa.
“I am proud to see the first woman Ibrahim Laureate, and I hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will continue to inspire women in Africa and beyond,” said Ibrahim.
Sirleaf joins Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007) as an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
Learn more about the prize here.
Image: Ibrahim Foundation