By Sharon Atieno

Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger’s former president, is the recipient of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

He was awarded during the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Governance Weekend in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is based on principles of sound government, respect for term limits and democratic elections.

Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger’s former president

President Issoufou made history in Niger by stepping down after two-five year presidential terms in office. By doing so, the Prize Committee found that he demonstrated clear respect for the constitution and the rule of law.

His decision paved way for the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power- a milestone in a country that has experienced four political coups since gaining independence in 1960.

President Issoufou was first democratically elected president in 2011, following many years of military rule in Niger.

Though he inherited one of the world’s poorest economies, he kept Niger on a steady path of progress.

In his time in office, the proportion of Nigeriens living below poverty line has fallen to 40% from 48% a decade ago.

Between 2011 and 2019, Niger’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew from $8.7 billion to $12.9 billion, leading to 16.1% growth of GDP per capita.

This was driven by President Issoufou’s transformative infrastructure agenda, including hospitals, universities and an international airport.

According to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), during his ten years as President, Niger has made progress in all four sub-categories of human development.

Niger is one of the African countries that has best managed to reduce child and maternal mortality and it is also among the ten most improved countries in strengthening socioeconomic opportunities for women.

However, it has declined in the IIAG’s categories of safety and security as well as  participation.

Among the guests present were Kenya’s president, William Ruto, Chairman of the African Union( AU) Musa Faki, United Nations (UN) Deputy General, Amina Mohammed and Joachim Chissano, Former president of Mozambique among others.

Awarded since 2007 by the foundation set up by British-Sudanese telecommunication tycoon Mo Ibrahim, Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The previous winner of the award was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian president and Africa’s first elected female president.

Winners receive $5m over 10 years.