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Who is Mogae?

By Gbemisola Olujobi


Truthdig - Festus Gontebanye Mogae is Botswana’s former president, and he is probably as little known as his country. Botswana, acclaimed as Africa’s brightest star, rose from the ashes of grinding poverty to middle-income status in a generation. Its elections are peaceful, its politicians retire voluntarily, its civil society is vibrant and its natural resources are not a curse but a blessing shared by all.

Mogae recently attracted meager attention when he won the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The annual prize was established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and launched in October 2006 as an African initiative “to strengthen governance and affirm the importance of nurturing outstanding leaders on the continent.” The prize aims to encourage leaders like Mogae who dedicate their tenures of office to surmounting the development challenges of their countries, improve the livelihoods and welfare of their people and consolidate the foundation for sustainable development.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize is the world’s largest annually awarded prize. Mogae will receive $5 million over the next 10 years and $200,000 per year thereafter for the rest of his life. Over the coming decade, the foundation may also grant another $200,000 a year to causes of Mogae’s choice.

Botswana also boasts one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. The country has maintained one of the world’s highest economic growth rates since independence, though growth slowed to about 5 percent annually in 2006-08. Mineral extraction, primarily diamond mining, dominates the economy. Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Through sound management, its diamond wealth has transformed Botswana from one of the world’s poorest countries to one of the wealthiest in the Southern Africa region, with a per capita GDP of nearly $15,800 in 2008. Botswana has Africa’s highest average income. By one estimate, it has the fourth-highest gross national income at purchasing power parity in Africa, giving it a standard of living equal to that of Mexico or Turkey. Read more.

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