Benjamin William Mkapa

His Excellency Dr Benjamin William Mkapa served as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania from 1995 to 2005.

Born in 1938 in Masasi, in the Mtwara Region of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Mkapa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Makerere, Uganda, and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Columbia, United States of America.

Prior to his career in diplomacy, between 1962 and 1976 Dr Mkapa excelled in the field of journalism as Managing Editor of the Nationalist and Uhuru newspapers, Managing Editor of the Government Daily News, Sunday News Director of the Tanzania News Agency and Press Secretary to President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. As a diplomat, Dr 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, Dr Mkapa continued the liberalization of the economy that began under his predecessor. He privatized most of the state-owned corporations and pursued free market policies designed 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 the country’s foreign debt.

Throughout his political career, Dr Mkapa has worked to strengthen the United Republic of 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 cooperation within the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community, of which he is Chairperson. He was appointed to the Aga Khan University Board of Trustees in November 2007.

Through the Mkapa Foundation, he continues to work to end the AIDS epidemic.