John Kufuor

Former President of Ghana

John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor was the second President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana (2001–2009) and Chairperson of the African Union (2007–2008).

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Oxford University in the United Kingdom before starting his career as a private law practitioner in Kumasi.

As of 1967, Mr Kufuor started his Public Service career as a Chief Legal Officer and City Manager of Kumasi, the second city of Ghana.

The following year he was elected member of the Constituent Assembly to write the constitution of the second Republic of Ghana and in 1969 he was elected Member of Parliament and appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, by the then Prime Minister, Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia.

In this position, he led Ghana’s delegation to UN General Assembly, the Organisation of African Unity’s meetings in Addis Ababa and the Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Lusaka in 1970.

In 1979, he was returned to Parliament and appointed the Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Deputy Opposition Leader of the Popular Front Party (PFP) Parliamentary Group during the Third Republic. In January 1982, he accepted an invitation from the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to serve in what was purported to be a National Government.

He was appointed the Secretary for Local Government in this new government. Seven months later, however, he resigned from his position and came back to private business for a few years.

Mr Kufuor returned to the forefront of Ghana politics in the 1990s. He won the presidential election of December 2000 and was swornin as president on the 7th January 2001.

His victory over John Atta- Mills after the end of Jerry Rawlings’ second term marked the first peaceful democratic transition of power in Ghana since the country’s independence in 1957.

He spent his first year in office concentrating his efforts on the national economy. Though unemployment and inflation remained high, the national currency stabilised, and investment in the country increased.

After being re-elected in 2004, he visited many countries to build stronger ties with the international community.

He served as Chairman of the regional grouping ECOWAS for two consecutive terms - 2003 and 2004. In 2007, he was elected chairman of the African Union (AU), serving until 2008. Mr Kufuor stood down as Ghana’s president in January 2009, following the election victory of former opposition leader John Atta Mills.

He has also championed efforts to end hunger, becoming a partner in 2008 in the World Food Programme’s “Fill the Cup” drive to provide nutritious school meals to millions of hungry children.

President Kufuor was a joint winner (together with President Lula of Brazil) of the World Food Prize 2011. He is currently the Chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership and a special envoy for the Partnership on Neglected Tropical Diseases.