Festus Mogae

His Excellency Dr Festus Gontebanye Mogae is a former President of Botswana and Chairperson of the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation.

He was elected President in April 1998 as the leader of the Botswana Democratic Party and won a second term in 2004. Under his stewardship of the economy and careful management of the country’s mineral resources, Botswana experienced the steady economic growth that has characterized its post-independence history.

Dr Mogae has won international praise for his efforts in the AIDS response in Botswana, one of the countries most affected by the epidemic. He is credited as one of the first heads of state in the world to publicly test for HIV. He was one of the first African leaders to chair his country’s national AIDS council and he continues to chair the council today. Under Dr Mogae’s administration, Botswana became the first country in Africa to provide free antiretroviral therapy to its citizens. In 2004, he introduced routine opt-out HIV testing, which has since dramatically increased the number of people who know their HIV status.

In August 2008, during the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Dr Mogae launched the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation, a distinguished group of former presidents and influential African leaders committed to an AIDS-free generation. The Champions have completed missions to four African nations, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, where they advocated for stepped-up HIV prevention efforts from those countries’ top leaders.

Dr Mogae has received a number of awards, including the 2008 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership and the Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur. In September 2008, he was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as one of his four Special Envoys on Climate Change. He also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Coalition of Dialogue on Africa.