2020 Ibrahim Laureate - President Mahamadou Issoufou
During his ten years as President, Niger has made progress in multiple areas, including improving 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. It is also among the ten most improved countries in strengthening socioeconomic opportunities for women.
Highlights – timeline
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Niger gains independence from France.
Issoufou serves as National Director of Mines, becoming Secretary-General of the Mining Company of Niger.
First transition from military to civilian rule takes place.
Issoufou enters Nigerien parliament as an MP for the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS).
Mahamane Ousmane elected President. Issoufou elected Prime Minister, a role he briefly held until September 1994.
Ousmane loses the parliamentary majority and ousted in a military coup by Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara. Maïnassara wins a controversial presidential election marred by allegations of fraud, and Issoufou (who also contested as opposition candidate) is placed under house arrest at various points throughout 1996-1997.
Maïnassara killed in military coup, Tandja Mamadou becomes President.
Tandja Mamadou assumes emergency powers. Issoufou calls on the armed forces to ignore his orders and urges the international community to intervene.
Tandja ousted in coup.
Issoufou democratically elected as president.
Issoufou democratically re-elected.
Niger hosts the Summit of the African Union.
Years on the United Nations Security Council.
Stepped down after two five-year presidential terms in office.
Citation & Achievements
The Prize Committee found that, confronted with unprecedented national and regional challenges, President Issoufou demonstrated exceptional leadership.
Throughout his time in office, he has kept Niger on a steady path of progress. The proportion of Nigeriens living below the poverty line has fallen to 40%, from 48% a decade ago. As a champion for the African Continental Free Trade Area, he helped to promote economic integration across the continent.
In the face of increasing violent extremism, President Issoufou proved his steadfast political will. He brought the voice of the Sahel to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, and played a leading role in strengthening regional and international cooperation around this fragile region.
Data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) underline Issoufou’s achievements. During his ten years as President, Niger has made progress in multiple areas, including improving 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. It is also among the ten most improved countries in strengthening socioeconomic opportunities for women.
Of course, challenges remain. Niger’s recent declines in the IIAG in Safety & Security and in Participation highlight the serious obstacles confronting the country’s sustained progress. Nevertheless, President Issoufou has laid firm foundations on which Niger can now build, while continuing to play vital roles in improving regional stability and strengthening economic integration.
Life after National Office
Mahamadou Issoufou stepped down at the end of his two terms in office. In March 2021, it was announced that he was awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
In the face of the most severe political and economic issues, including violent extremism and increasing desertification, President Mahamadou Issoufou has led his people on a path of progress.
Festus Mogae, Chair of the Prize Committee