In a live public vote, Essien received nearly twice as many votes as Ahly and Egypt playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba.
For the first time in the history of the prize, the winner was decided live during the BBC World Service's flagship African sports programme Fast Track.
The BBC award takes into account the football calendar from January to December 2006 and includes domestic leagues, both the Uefa and Caf Champions League tournaments.
The African Nations Cup, the World Cup and the World Club Cup are also included within this period
Thanks to the BBC website