His Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa
Former President of Tanzania, Mr Benjamin William Mkapa was born in Masasi, Mtwara Region in the United Republic of Tanzania in 1938 and holds a BA degree from the University of Makerere, Uganda and a Master's degree in International Relations from the University of Columbia, USA.
Prior to his career in diplomacy, between 1962 and 1976, Mr Mkapa excelled in the field of journalism as Managing Editor of the Nationalist and Uhuru Newspapers, Managing Editor of the Government Daily News and Sunday News Director of the Tanzania News Agency, and Press Secretary to President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. As a diplomat, Mr Mkapa's postings included Minister for Foreign Affairs, High Commissioner to Nigeria as well as Canada, and Ambassador to the United States of America. He served as Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education prior to being elected President in 1995.
During his two presidential terms, from 1995 to 2005, Mr Mkapa continued the liberalisation of the economy that began under his predecessor. He privatised most of the state owned corporations and pursued free market policies design ed to attract foreign investment. His policies won the support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and resulted in the cancellation of some of Tanzania 's foreign debts.
Throughout his political career, Mr Mkapa has worked to strengthen Tanzania 's democracy, entrench civil rights and fight poverty, while increasing the country's openness 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 of which he is Chairperson. He was appointed to Aga Khan University Board of Trustees in November 2007.