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Page last updated at 07:32 GMT, Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Guest editor: Dr Mo Ibrahim

Dr Mo Ibrahim

Every year the Today programme hands over the editorship to leading public figures in the week between Christmas and New Year. Editing the programme on 27 December was African businessman and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim.

His programme looks at African success stories and debates why so many of the continent's problems have yet to be solved.


In 2007, Dr Ibrahim established the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, awarded to an African leader who governs well in terms of delivering security, health, education and economic development for their people, and who then also democratically transfer power to their successors.

For two successive years, 2009 and 2010, the prize was not awarded, but this year went to Pedro Verona Pires, the former president of Cape Verde, a 10 island republic just off the continent's western coast.

He sent Today presenter Evan Davis to Cape Verde to see why the country is one of the continent's success stories, and organised a discussion involving himself and two former winners of the prize - Festsus Mogae of Botswana and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique - about the barriers to good leadership and how Africa's current leaders can overcome them.

Mo Ibrahim made his name and fortune by helping to grow Africa's mobile communications industry. And nowhere in the world has the mobile phone quite caught the public imagination nor, arguably, improved the quality of life of people, than in Africa.

Just over 10 years ago it cost $1500 for a mobile phone sim card. Now it is predicted that half of Africa's one billion people has a mobile phone.

Mo Ibrahim was interested in exploring the impact of the rise of mobile phone use on the continent's media landscape. Have mobile phones - 69% of which are predicted to have internet access by 2014 - reduced the relevance of traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio? And what does the future hold?

He is very proud of his Nubian heritage. But who are the Nubians? Sudan correspondent James Copnall has been finding out.

Mo Ibrahim wanted to pose the question: given the land and resources Africa has at its disposal, why does the continent still suffer famines?

He believes that not only should it be able to feed itself, it should also be able to feed others - agriculture could be a source of economic growth, not just used for consumption.

In the 1960s, Africa was a net exporter of food. Fifty years later, the continent imports a quarter of its food. He asked Will Ross to investigate the barriers to successful agriculture on the African continent. What are the regional success stories, and could they be replicated across Africa?

Our guest editor is frustrated by the lack of trade between African nations and believes that it inhibits growth on the continent.

He asked Today presenter Evan Davis to explore the barriers to greater freedom of movement, people and goods on the continent. Could greater regional economic integration alleviate some of Africa's problems?

Dr Ibrahim has tried to use his programme to present a different picture of Africa. He sat down with Evan Davis to talk about why he chose to focus on that.


Born in Sudan and educated in Egypt and England, Mo Ibrahim's entrepreneurship in mobile communications has made him a billionaire.

Celtel International, which he sold for more than three billion dollars in 2005, provided a mobile phone network for 14 African countries.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which he created in 2006, encourages better governance and leadership in Africa.

Its initiatives include The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, recently awarded to President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, and the Ibrahim Index of African governance, currently topped by Mauritius.

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