Former Botswana President Mogae Wins Award for Leadership, Work on HIV/AIDS
Former President of Botswana Festus Mogae on Monday received the 2008 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which is awarded annually in recognition of good governance on the continent, in part for his role in fighting HIV/AIDS in a country with one of the world's highest prevalence rates, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. During his two terms as president, Mogae worked to curb the spread of the disease by receiving a public HIV test, pressing to cut the prevalence of mother-to-child transmission and fighting to make antiretroviral drugs available. Although Botswana's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 23.9% is the second-highest worldwide, the percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women passing on the virus to their infants has decreased from as high as about 40% to 4%, and most people in need of antiretrovirals are receiving them (Zuckerbrod, AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/20).
Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese billionaire for whom the award is named, said that he hopes the prize will foster discussion about the importance of leadership in Africa, the New York Times reports (Dugger, New York Times, 10/21). Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who led the six-member panel that chose Mogae for the prize, said that Mogae's "outstanding leadership has ensured Botswana's continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV and AIDS pandemic, which threatened the future of his country and his people" (Okorie, This Day/AllAfrica.com, 10/21). According to the AP/Newsday, Mogae addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS in almost every one of his speeches as president (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/20).
Since stepping down as president in April, the Times reports that Mogae has continued his work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through Champions for an HIV-Free Generation, an initiative that includes former African presidents and other figures dedicated to addressing the disease. As recipient of the award, Mogae will receive $5 million over the next 10 years and $200,000 annually thereafter for the rest of his life. In addition, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation over the coming decade could grant another $200,000 a year to cases of Mogae's choice (New York Times, 10/21).
A kaisernetwork.org interview with Mogae from the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City is available online.