52. Mo Ibrahim
for holding Africa to high standards.
Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation | Britain
Mo Ibrahim, a Sudan-born cell-phone mogul, hatched a brilliant plan a few years back: to create a foundation solely targeted at inspiring better governance in Africa.
The heart of his initiative is the Mo Ibrahim Foundation's leadership prize, which grants $5 million over 10 years -- plus a $200,000 annual stipend thereafter -- to retired African heads of state who were democratic and incorruptible. For the last two years, however, not a single retired African leader has lived up to the selection committee's standards. Indeed, this year Ibrahim's continent-wide governance index warned of a possible backslide: Two-thirds of African countries are at risk of experiencing what Ibrahim dubbed a "democratic recession." "Why are we poor?" Ibrahim asked TV host Charlie Rose in April. "It's absolute mismanagement of our resources and our governments."
53. Miles Morland and Rosa Whitaker
for seeing Africa as the land of opportunity.
Investor | Britain
Consultant | Washington
As the world poured foreign aid into Africa over the last decades, few noticed that an economic revolution was already taking place. It started in the early 1990s, when Morland's London-based investment firm proved that profit could be made in African economies that the world had long ago written off as too risky. Morland's success spawned a host of imitators and admirers, among them Rosa Whitaker, who, a decade later, while serving as the first U.S. assistant trade representative for Africa, saw that the continent could be a vibrant consumer market as well as a hot spot for yield-seekers. In 2000, Whitaker helped draft and implement the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which encouraged trade between African economies and the United States.
Now celebrating its 10th year, the bill has proven more effective at boosting trade and growth than anyone could have imagined. Africa's overall economy has expanded consistently each year even as the world's has stagnated, and trade with the United States has more than doubled. As Morland said recently, Africa is "one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, where banks haven't needed bailing out, no large companies have folded, with no accounting scandals, and where the biggest problem businessmen have is getting capital to finance growth." It's largely thanks to Morland and Whitaker that this sentiment now seems like conventional wisdom.
54. Paul Romer
for developing the world's quickest shortcut to economic development.
Economist, Stanford University | Palo Alto, Calif.
"I'm quite happy to offend everyone," Paul Romer once said. The latest project of this renowned economist seems designed to do just that: As founder of a venture called Charter Cities, Romer is trying to convince developing countries to invite wealthier states to commandeer sections of their territory. Those countries would, in turn, establish a consistent rule of law, invite international businesses to invest, and put locals to work. Romer's idea, a twist on the "special economic zones" that have brought jobs to places like China and Vietnam, is that governance can effectively be imported: The fastest path to development is to let a thousand Hong Kongs bloom.
Where Romer sees a shortcut to economic progress, others see neocolonialism, and only one country -- Madagascar -- has expressed any interest. But Romer is undeterred. "They say that for political reasons, it will never happen," he said. "Many times, all that holds us back is a failure of imagination."
55. Christopher Hitchens
for refusing to surrender in the darkest of times.
Author | Washington
Even in a life as well lived as Christopher Hitchens's, June 2010 qualifies as a particularly eventful month. The legendary transatlantic intellectual and perpetual debunker of conventional wisdoms released his memoir, Hitch-22, which tells the story of his involvement in and disillusionment with leftist radicalism; his fraught friendships with Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, and others; and his controversial support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But Hitchens was forced to cut short his book tour when he began treatment for esophageal cancer, saying grimly, "The statistics in my case are very poor."
Despite his condition, Hitchens has kept up his staggering productivity, churning out provocative and passionately argued columns weekly on issues ranging from the "Ground Zero mosque" controversy to the growing influence of Hezbollah. And lest you think that the God Is Not Great author might take to prayer in the face of a life-threatening illness, a resolute Hitchens told CNN's Anderson Cooper in August, "I don't think that souls or bodies can be changed by incantation."
Read more: Christopher Hitchens on religion, his own diagnosis of lung cancer, and the value -- or not -- of prayer at life's end.