Friday, October 27, 2006

X-Prize For Politicians

I've been tossing this idea around in my head for some time now - I think that it is really exciting that a private individual is implementing it rather than a government body.

Each year the winning leader will, at the end of his term, get $5m (£2.7m) over 10 years and $200,000 (£107,000) each year for life thereafter. "We need to remove corruption and improve governance," Mr Ibrahim said.
...The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be launched in London on Thursday... It will be available only to a president who democratically transfers power to his successor. Harvard University will do the measuring to see just how well the president has served his or her people during their term in office.

I agree with Tyler that the amount is probably a bit small, but there is nothing stopping other entrepreneurs from jumping on board to up the ante. In fact, if the program shows promise I would be surprised if that didn't happen.

The only problem with this approach is that it can be used for good just as well as it can be used for bad. Imagine a scenario where an entrepreneur rewards a leader for attempting to implement Communism, Socialism, protectionism or other such nonsense. You would end up with a situation where billionaires with money to burn would be completing against each other in order to get pet philosophies implemented. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

For the time being I'll be optimistic and hope that this is able to help Africa turn the corner.

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