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Jakaya Kikwete: Diplomat par excellence

JAKAYA Mrisho Kikwete was born on October 7, 1950 at a place called Msoga, located in the Bagamoyo District of Tanzania.
In 1975 he graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam, where he studied agrieconomics.
At the university, he was a student leader and actively participated in African liberation politics and youth movements.
He later sharpened his leadership skills in the military, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before retiring from the army in 1992 to concentrate on politics having been mentored into politics by the founding father and first President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Mr Kikwete was first elected as the fourth President of the United Republic of Tanzania on December 14, 2005 and later re-elected on October 31, 2010 for his second term.
It was during his tenure as President of Tanzania that President Kikwete set out an ambitious agenda for the faster and sustained economic growth for Tanzania.
In his almost 40 years of public service, Mr Kikwete served in different party, military and government positions. He joined the Cabinet in 1988 and he held several ministerial portfolios including Minister for Finance, Minister for Water, Energy and Mineral Resources and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He was the longest-serving Foreign Minister in the history of Tanzania after serving in that position for a period of ten years.
During his tenure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kikwete led Tanzania’s efforts to bring about peace in the Great Lakes Region, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Chairman of East African Community’s Council of Ministers, he played a pivotal role in moving forward the process of regional integration in East Africa, particularly the delicate negotiations of establishing a Customs Union between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. He also co-chaired the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy with the Foreign Minister of Finland.
In 2007, Mr Kikwete was elected Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Security, Defense and Politics, where he was deeply involved in the search for peaceful solutions to the political crises in the Southern African region, including the political crisis in Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
On January 31, 2008, Mr. Kikwete was elected Chairman of the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Government, where he took a proactive role in resolving of conflicts in the Republic of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has also been credited with having advanced to greater heights the relations between the AU and the UN, EU and International Community at large.
He successfully completed his Chairmanship of the East African Community and it was during his tenure that the EAC signed and ratified the Protocol on the Common Market. He left negotiations on the Monetary Union at an advanced stage.
On April 11, 2018, the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation (JMKF) was launched in Tanzania dedicated to the Pan-African vision in line with what President Kikwete did during his tenure as President of the Republic of Tanzania and the African continent, where he hopes to engage and contribute to many issues affecting his country and the African continent at large, especially in areas of conflict resolution.
Mr Jakaya Kikwete will be among the key speakers at the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) National Summit to be held in Livingstone from 24-26 July 2019 at the Avani Resort Hotel under the theme: ‘The future of economic diplomacy: supporting inclusive growth and sustainable development in Africa’.
The author is a social commentator and blogger.