And the 2013 Ibrahim Prize for achievement in African leadership goes to...

No one won the world's biggest cash prize this year. Again.

For the second year in a row, the prize committee for the Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership have decided that no one merited the award. The Ibrahim Prize, which is paid for by the Sudanese telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim, but decided by committee, is the largest cash prize in the world, amounting to $5m over 10 years and then $200,000 annually for life.

It is awarded to African leaders who provide a strong role model to others and who have stepped down voluntarily from power. Since the prize was launched in 2007 it has only been awarded three times, to Cape Verde’s President Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires (2011), Botwana’s President Festus Gontebanye Mogae (2008) and Mozambique’s President Joaquim Alberto Chissano (2007).

Speaking at a press conference in London, Salim Ahmed Salim, the chairman of the prize committee and ex-prime minister of Tanzania, refused to reveal whether any ex-presidents were close candidates for the prize. Mo Ibrahim added that he was “hopeful” that he will hand out the award soon, and even suggested they may in future years have to split the prize between several deserving candidates.

A financial reward seems like a strange way to encourage leaders to turn away from corruption - $5m may be the world’s biggest cash prize, but it’s pocket money for the average kleptomaniac dictator.  Then again, you could equally argue the prize money is too large. It is intended to allow winners to 'use their skills and experience at the continental level once they have left national office.' Which is an interesting idea, although it's not clear whether the prize would need to be quite so generous to support this goal.

Ibrahim, however, insists his prize is having an effect, even on years when no one is awarded. He says it has generated interest from incumbent leaders, who are keen to implement democratic reforms, telling journalists at the press conference that “a new generation of African presidents are coming forward, who are very serious and who are taking these things [accountability and good governance] very seriously.”

Overall, Ibrahim, believes that across Africa governance is improving. His eponymous foundation produces an annual report, also launched today, which ranks African countries in terms of governance, where governance is seen as a function of improved safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development. His report has found that 94 per cent of Africans have experienced improved governance since 2000, but that while human rights, economic growth and human development have all got better across the continent, personal safety and the rule of law is deteriorating.

The picture also varies from country to country. According to his report, Mauritius, Botswana and Cape Verde experienced the best governance, while Eritrea, DRC and Somalia are the worst governed countries. While Liberia showed the best improvement in governance this year, Libya fared the worst.

Sudan-born telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim introduces the 2013 Ibrahim Prize for achievement in African Leadership. Photo:Getty.

Sophie McBain is a freelance writer based in Cairo. She was previously an assistant editor at the New Statesman.

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Q&A: Would Brexit really move “the Jungle” to Dover?

The 2003 Le Touquet treaty was negotiated outside the EU.

What is David Cameron’s most recent claim about Britain leaving the EU?

The Prime Minister is claiming that Brexit could result in France ending the agreement by which British immigration officials carry out checks on those seeking to enter the UK in France.  

More specifically, Cameron thinks that a vote to leave the EU would give the French government an excuse to revoke the Le Touquet treaty of 2003, and that this would cause refugee camps akin to the Calais “Jungle” to spring up along the English south coast.

What’s the Le Touquet treaty?

In February 2003, Tony Blair went to the northern French resort of Le Touquet to try and persuade President Jacques Chirac to support British and American military action in Iraq. (He failed). 

Blair and Chirac hogged the headlines, but on the summit’s sidelines, Home Secretary David Blunkett and his French counterpart, an ambitious young politician named Nicolas Sarkozy, negotiated a treaty establishing juxtaposed controls at each country’s sea ports.

This agreement meant that British border police could set up and run immigration checkpoints at Calais – effectively moving the British border there from Dover. The treaty also enabled French border police to carry out checks in Dover.

British border police had already been operating at French Eurostar terminals since 2001, and manning the French entrance to the Eurotunnel since 1994.

What’s all this got to do with the EU?

Technically, nothing. The Le Touquet treaty is a bilateral agreement between the UK and France. Both countries happen to be member states of the EU, but the negotiations took place outside of the EU’s auspices.

That's why eurosceptics have reacted with such fury today. Arron Banks, the co-founder of Leave.EU, said the Prime Minister was “resorting to scaremongering”, while Ukip’s migration spokesperson, in a surprising role-reversal, said that Cameron’s argument was “based on fear, negativity, and a falsehood”.

Cameron’s claim appears to be that Brexit would represent such a profound shift in the UK’s relationship with other European states that it could offer France an excuse to end the agreement reached at Le Touquet. That is debatable, but any suggestion that the treaty would instantly become void in the event of a vote to leave is untrue.

Does France actually want to revoke the treaty?

Local politicians in Calais, and in particular the town’s mayor, have been arguing for months that the treaty should be abandoned. Le Monde has also criticised it. The current French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, hinted today that he agreed, saying that a British vote to leave “will always result in countermeasures”.

On the BBC's Today programme this morning, Rob Whiteman, a former head of the UK Border Agency, said that it was “almost certain” that the treaty would end if the UK left the EU. He said that France has benefited less from the deal than it expected:

“I think at the time the French felt there would be an upside for them, in that if it was clear that people could not easily get to Britain it would stop Sangatte building up again. The camp was closed. But history has shown that not to be the case. The French authorities still have a huge amount of pressure on their side.”

That said, the French government receives money from the British to help police Calais and its camps, and various French officials have acknowledged that their ports would receive even more traffic if refugees and migrants believed that it was easier to travel  to the UK than before.

If the treaty ended, would “the Jungle” just move to Dover?

There’s little doubt that because of linguistic and familial ties, and perhaps the perception that the UK is more welcoming than France, many refugees and migrants would come to the UK as quickly as they could to claim asylum here.

Whiteman also said on Today that since the 2003 agreement, the annual number of asylum claims in the UK had declined from 80,000 to around 30,000. So the UK could expect a significant spike in claims if the treaty were to end.

But the British asylum process makes it unlikely that anything like “the Jungle” would spring up. Instead, those claiming asylum would be dispersed around the country or, if authorities are worried they would flee, held in an immigration detention centre.

Why is Cameron saying this now?

This looks suspiciously like one of the Tories' election strategist Lynton Crosby’s dead cats. That is, in an effort to distract his critics from the detail of the renegotiation, the PM has provoked a row about migrants and refugees. Cameron is clearly keen to move the debate on from the minutiae of different European agreements to bigger questions about security and terrorism. Though getting bogged down in competing interpretations of a treaty from 2003 may not be the best way to move onto that broader terrain.