John Agyekum Kufuor
Former President of Ghana(2001-2009)
Education: Mr. Kufuor was called to the Bar at Lincoln Inn, London (1959-1961) and obtained a BA Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Exeter College, University of Oxford (1961-1964). He also holds an MA in Economics from Oxford.
John Kufuor served two terms as president of the Republic of Ghana from 2001–09.
During his presidency, he served as chairperson of the African Union (2007–08), during which he supervised the peaceful resolution of the electoral conflict in Kenya in 2008. He was also chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for two terms (2003–05) and saw to the successful negotiations that brought peace and major post-war reconstruction to Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia.
Earlier in his career, he was twice elected Member of Parliament (1969–72) and (1979–81). He served as a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1969-72), and led Ghana’s delegation to the United Nations (UN) in 1970. He served briefly as PNDC Secretary for Local Government in 1982. He had also served as chief legal officer and city manager of Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana.
Under his presidency, Ghana witnessed the fastest economic growth in its history, attaining a middle-income status by 2006, much earlier than the projected year of 2015. GDP growth reached a record 8.4 percent between 2007 and 2008, even in the midst of the international financial and economic crises.
Among his landmark pro-poor programs was the National Health Insurance Scheme, with free maternal care for pregnant women, under which about 56 percent of the population was registered in its early years. He also instituted the Free School Feeding program to provide one nutritious meal a day for school children from kindergarten, (age four) to Junior High School, (age 16).
Under Kufuor, the Ghana’s Agricultural Extension Services program was reactivated and special attention paid to educating cocoa farmers on best practices. As a result between 2002 and 2005, cocoa production in Ghana, the world’s second largest producer, doubled from 350,000 tons to 734,000 tons a year, an all-time record in more than a century of cocoa production in the country. The projection of one million tons in five years was indeed reached two years after he left office.
Using similar measures, production of food crops, livestock and fish increased tremendously and poverty levels in Ghana were cut in half early in his administration.
Under his watch, Ghana experienced a very robust infrastructural development in the areas of roads, schools and hospitals, among others.
In retirement, President Kufuor has set up the John A Kufuor Foundation on Leadership, Governance and Development.
In 2011 he was named joint-winner of the World Food Prize for Food and Agriculture with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva.
Currently, he is the UN Special Envoy on Climate Change; a Global Ambassador against Hunger for the UN World Food Programme; Chairman of the UN Interpeace Program; Chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership; Global Envoy for the Neglected Tropical Diseases Alliance; and Lead Advocate for the Partnership for Child Development.
Other positions President Kufuor holds include: President of the Italian development organization, Alliance for Africa; member of Club de Madrid; Director of Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa; Director of the Leon Sullivan Foundation and Director of the Netherlands Development Corporation, and a member of the Global Citizenship Commission tasked with updating the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Kufuor was one of 10 distinguished global leaders tasked to work on the reform of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He has served as leader of several election monitoring delegations to several African countries under the auspices of the African Union and ECOWAS.
Kufuor is the recipient of numerous awards including; the Chatham House prize for Good Leadership by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and The Bundesverskkreuz, Germany’s highest national award by former President Horst Kohler. For helping to return peace to Liberia, he earned Liberia’s highest award of the Grand Cordon in the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers by President Eileen Sirleaf Johnson.
He has received several honorary doctoral degrees from universities in Britain, Nigeria, Ghana and South Korea.