Benjamin William MKAPA (Chairman, 2006 –present)
Benjamin W. Mkapa, United-Republic of Tanzania, was the third President of the United-Republic of Tanzania (from November 1995 to December 2005) since independence in 1961.
Former President Mkapa was born in 1938 in Masasi, in the Mtwara region of the country. He received his primary and secondary education in Tanzania, and continued his studies at Makerere University College in Uganda, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with honours) in 1962.
Mr. Mkapa’s career began in local administration in Dodoma where he was appointed District Officer in 1962. He became a Foreign Service Officer later that year. In 1966 Mr. Mkapa embarked upon a long career in journalism. During the 1960s and 70s he served as Managing Editor of Tanzania’s leading newspapers, The Nationalist, Uhuru, The Daily News and The Sunday News.
His experience in the news media led to his being appointed, in 1974, as Press Secretary to the first President of the United-Republic of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, whom he served for two years. In 1976, Mr. Mkapa became the Founding Editor of the Tanzania News Agency (SHIHATA).
Throughout his career, Mr. Mkapa was appointed to a number of high postings as a diplomat and served as Minister in a number of portfolios. He was High Commissioner to Nigeria in 1976. He was then appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1980 and Minister for Information and Culture from 1980 to1982. In 1982, he served as High Commissioner to Canada and between 1983 and 1984 as Ambassador of his country to the United States of America. He returned home in 1984 where he was again appointed Member of Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs.From 1990 to 1992 he was Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
In 1992, he served as Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, prior to being elected President in 1995, and Chairman of his Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, in 1996. He was re-elected President in 2000 for another 5 year term.
Throughout his political career, Mr. Mkapa has worked hard to strengthen democracy in Tanzania, entrench civil rights and fight poverty, while increasing the country’s exposure to international trade and investment. He is active in conflict prevention, management and resolution in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and is an active player in regional economic co-operation within the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) an organisation he served as Chairperson for one year from August 2003.
Mr. Mkapa was a Co-Chair with President Tarja Hallonen of Finland to the Commission on the Social-dimension of Globalization from 2003 to 2004. He was also a member of the Commission for Africa initiated by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mr. Mkapa holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees, among others, from Soka University in Japan in 1998, Morehouse College, Atlanta, USA in 1999, and the Open University of Tanzania in September 2003. His main hobby is reading.
After handing over power following his ruling party’s successful elections in 2005, Former President Mkapa has engaged in a number of prominent global initiatives aimed at reducing abject poverty in Africa, equal economic opportunity for all mankind, and combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
In 2005, he served as a Panellist in the Panel of Eminent Persons appointed by the UNCTAD Secretary-General and in 2006 he served as a member of the High-level panel on UN System-wide Coherence in areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment, appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General. He also served as a Commissioner on a UN High Level Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (2006-2008) and a member of the Board of Governors of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute.
Since 1996 Mr. Mkapa is a Co-Chair of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, an off-shoot of the Blair Commission for Africa. He is also a member of the prestigious Madrid Club of Former Heads of States and Government and a member of the board of trustees of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
Mr. Mkapa is a Co-founder of the Benjamin William Mkapa HIV/AIDS Fellowship Programme, an initiative aimed at supporting delivery of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs to the under-privileged sufferers of HIV/AIDS in remote rural areas.