The annual £3.2 million Mo Ibrahim award for 'excellence in African leadership' has failed to find a winner for the third time in six years.

The award is given to a democratically-elected leader who has governed according to the rule of law, raised living standards and served a mandated term before voluntarily leaving.

Rather than compromise the integrity of the award, this year's judging panel decided that not one single African leader deserved the prize.

mo ibrahim

Mo Ibrahim has had to announce no winner for the third time in three years

Mo Ibrahim, the award's Sudanese-born billionaire founder, said: "Some people say we are giving a negative message (about Africa), but we are not just in the business of positive messages – we would lose our credibility."

The award has recognised three 'excellent' leaders since its founding in 2007. Cape Verde's former president Pedro Verona Pires, won in 2011, Botswana's ex-leader Festus Mogae in 2008 and Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano in 2007.

Ibrahim said: "You make your bed, you have to lie in it.

"If we said we're going to have a prize for exceptional leadership, we have to stick to that.

"We are not going to compromise. Everyone understands that excellence is something special."

Perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize panel could take a leaf out of their book.