Can money offset venality?

Prizes sponsored by private individuals and organizations seem to be the new way to provide incentives for technological and other advances. Now a wealthy Sudanese entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, is offering a post-facto prize to African leaders who have governed well and in the interests of their people. Ibrahim says that the money may provide incentives for some African leaders to leave office, since they will have financial security instead of clinging to their positions of power and perhaps leading their countries into corruption.

An index will be used to evaluate heads of state’s performances. And the criteria sound similar to those of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in its awarding of grants to developing countries.

Instead of the prize money going to the African countries, however, the awards will go to leaders after they leave office. According to reports, “The $5 million prize will be paid over 10 years and the winners will then receive $200,000 a year for life.”