Pohamba hints at sharing prize money

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WINDHOEK – Namibian students from disadvantaged backgrounds could benefit from President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s N$58 million cash windfall which comes with the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership that he won on Monday.

A statement from State House yesterday said the prize will enable the President to further pursue the objectives of the Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation, which focuses on supporting students from poor backgrounds.

Pohamba was announced as Africa’s best leader for 2014 at an event held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday.

Sudanese-British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire, Dr Mohamed Ibrahim – who introduced the US$5 million prize eight years ago – cited free primary education and tolerance as some of the factors his foundation considered in choosing Pohamba as winner of the coveted award.

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, the chairperson of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Prize Committee, informed Prime Minister and President-elect Hage Geingob on Monday that President Pohamba was the winner of the award.

The Namibian leader saw off respected statesmen Mwai Kibaki and Armando Guebuzza, former presidents of Kenya and Mozambique respectively.

“President Pohamba is indeed humbled by the award of this prestigious prize,” State House said in a statement yesterday.

“He has accepted the award on behalf of the Namibian people, as it is their commitment to peace and stability that has made the award of this prize to him possible.”

In accepting the prize, Pohamba paused to commend other African leaders who have served the continent and its people with distinction and who are equally worthy candidates for the prize he won.

Pohamba also thanked millionaire businessman Mo Ibrahim for honouring him in that manner.

The N$58 million will be paid to Pohamba over 10 years, while US$200 000 (N$2.3 million) will be paid to him annually for life thereafter.
Speaking to Doha-based Al Jazeera television network from Nairobi on Monday, Ibrahim said Pohamba has been exemplary during his 10-year tenure as president of Namibia.

“I think he gave us a wonderful example of a leader who led democratically and who took his country forward and improved education.

“Education is now free for children and he paid attention to social cohesion. Regular consultation with opposition and other people has helped move the country forward,” said the founder of Celtel mobile communication company.

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