PEDRO de VERONA RODRIGUES PIRES
Winner of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
He served as President of Cape Verde for 10 years and during that period his country rose from the ranks of “least developed countries” to become a middle income country. By any measure, it was a remarkable accomplishment, particularly for a country that has little to no natural resources.
With that kind of accomplishment lesser men would have easily succumbed to the temptation put before Pedro Pires by many of his supporters to change the constitution to allow him a third 5-year term of office.
His refusal to do so was a key factor behind the decision of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to award him the $5 Million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. As the Foundation has noted, the Prize goes only to a democratically elected president who has stayed “within the limits set by the country’s constitution, has left office in the last three years and has demonstrated excellence in office.”
In addition to the $5 Million, which will be paid over 10 years, Pires, like the two previous winners of the Prize, former Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Mogae of Botswana, will receive $200 Thousand Dollars a year for the rest of his life.
The Prize, established by Mohammed Ibrahim, a Sudanese born businessman who made his fortune in telecommunications, is meant to promote good governance in Africa. For the last two years, no winner was chosen because the Foundation said it could not find suitable candidates for the Prize.
The award to Pires is in many ways a tribute to his island nation which lies some 300 miles off the coast of West Africa. Sparsely populated, Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony, has about 500,000 residents and is the only country in the world with more of its citizens living outside than within its borders. Remittances from the large Cape Verdean Diaspora play an important role in keeping the country’s economy afloat. However, more than anything, Cape Verde owes its economic success to the sound management of its finances and a tradition of political tolerance and stability.
Thank to the leadership of men like Pedro Pires.