Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Lansana Kouyate, Guinea's candidate in the race to succeed Tanzania's Salim Ahmed Salim as Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity or the African Union, is not a stranger to pan-African affairs.
Born in 1950 in Koba, a small town some 200-km from Conakry, in coastal Guinea, Kouyate, the current Executive Secretary of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is a graduate of the School of Administration of the University of Conakry, Having spent an essential part of his carrier as a diplomat, he briefly served in his country's General Administration where he occupied the posts of Labour Director (1976-1977) and Director of Trade, Prices and Statistics at the Financial Co-ordination Office for industry comprising 44 State-owned firms.
Between 1982 and 1983, he was appointed to assist the Deputy Director General of a rice development project jointly funded by the American Agency for International Development (USAID), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Kouyate entered the diplomatic service in 1983 when he was appointed Counsellor at the Guinean Embassy in Cote d'Ivoire, in charge of relations between the Guinean government and the ADB.
He held the post until July 1985, when he was recalled to Conakry to head the Africa and OAU department at the Guinean Foreign Ministry, an experience that could prove vital in his current campaign.
In 1987, the Guinean diplomat was promoted as his country's Ambassador to Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
He left in 1992 for New York as Guinea's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
In that capacity, he was designated Vice President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Kouyate was appointed UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Somalia from February 1993 to January 1994.
His management of the complex Somalian issue boosted his profile within the UN system, and in June 1994, Kouyate was promoted Under-Secretary General in charge of Political Affairs for Africa, Western Asia and the Middle East at the Security Council.
He left the post in 1997 to replace his ailing compatriot, Edward Benjamin, as the Executive Secretary of Nigeria-based ECOWAS.
Following his outstanding performance, ECOWAS leaders unanimously endorsed his mandate after he had served out Benjamin's remaining term.
Under Kouyate, ECOWAS has seen greater visibility through a deliberate popularisation of the Community's integration programmes by an expanded Information/Communication Department.
The author of two books: "International funding of State-owned companies in Guinea: Problems and Prospects," and "The end of the Cold War and its impact on Third-World countries," Kouyate has received several honorary titles including the Commander of the Legion of Honour (France), Commander of the Mono Order, the highest Togolese award, and the African Star of Liberia.
He is married and has three children.