Former President John Agyekum Kufuor is 85-years-old today.
Born on December 8, 1938, Mr Kufuor is the 7th of 10 children of Nana Kwadwo Agyekum, an Asante royal, and Nana Ama Dapaah, a queen mother of the Apagya royal family of Asante.
He attended Prempeh College, Kumasi for his secondary education before proceeding to the United Kingdom where he obtained an Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Exeter College, University of Oxford (1961-1964).
Mr Kufuor was called to the Bar at Lincoln Inn, London.
In his political career, he was twice elected Member of Parliament (1969–72 and 1979– 81).
He served as a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Busia administration, and Secretary for Local Government under the Rawlings PNDC.
Achievements as President
Mr Kufuor served two terms as President from 2001–2008.
During his presidency, he served as chairperson of the African Union (2007–2008) during which he supervised the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Kenya, among others.
He was also chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (2003–2005) and saw to the successful negotiations that brought peace and major post- war reconstruction to Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia.
As President, Ghana witnessed the fastest growth in its history attaining a Middle- Income status by 2006 much earlier than the projected year of 2015 envisaged under the UN Millennium Development Goals and GDP reaching a record 8.4% between 2007 and 2008 even in teeth of the international financial and economic crisis.
He introduced the health insurance scheme with free maternal care for pregnant women under which about 56% of the population was registered and instituted the Free School Feeding programme to provide one nutritious locally produced meal a day for school children in kindergarten (age four) to Junior High School (age 14).
Under Mr Kufuor, the Agricultural Extension Services 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 a year to 734,000 tons a year, an all time record in more than a century of cocoa farming in the country.
Using similar measures, production of food crops such as maize, cassava, yams and plantains increased tremendously just as livestock and fish.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) which measures children’s undernourishment, underweight and mortality in developing countries showed that Ghana had one of the greatest percentage reductions since 1990.
In retirement, Mr 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 Prisident Lula da Silva.
Kufuor has received numerous awards including; the Chatham House prize for good leadership by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, Germany’s highest national award the Bundesverskkreuz by former President Horst Kohler; Liberia’s highest award of the Grand Cordon in the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers for helping to return peace to that country.
He has received several doctoral honours degrees from universities in Britain, Nigeria, Ghana and South Korea.