John Ulanga is the UDSM Alumnus of the Month this July. He was born on 9 April 1971 in Mombasa, Kenya, where his parents were then stationed in the employ of the East Africa Community. His early formal education, however, was accessed in Tanzania, beginning with primary education in the city of Dar es Salaam from 1978 –1984 at several primary schools for different grades (Muhimbili, Chang’ombe, and Gerezani), thereafter proceeding to secondary education at Azania Secondary School where he studied and brilliantly passed in science subjects and obtained a first division at O-Level. His performance at Mazengo High School in Dodoma at A-Level (1989–1990) was equally brilliant, with a Division 1 pass in Economics, Geography, and Mathematics. In 1993, he was admitted to the then-Faculty of Commerce and Management at the University of Dar es Salaam where he undertook a three-year Bachelor of Commerce degree programme in Accounting, which he completed in 1996. In the next four years, in 2000, he pursued professional training in accountancy, obtaining the ‘Certified Public Accountant’ award of the NBAA (National Board of Accountants and Auditors). He thus had an opportunity to consolidate his knowledge base and professional skills.
Previously, John had a fairly long occupational experience through long and professionally engaging tasks tracing back to year 1992/93 as ‘Second Administrator’ with Deutsche Eisenbahn-Consulting GmbH, Branch Office, Dar es Salaam; as Finance and Administrative Manager in ‘DE-Consult GmbH, East Africa’, Dar es Salaam (1996–1997), where he assisted the Branch Manager in all the duties assigned to the Tanzania Branch e.g. support activities to the Tanzania Railways projects; as Financial Systems Analyst for the Government Accounts Development Project in the Ministry of Finance Accountant General’s Office (1998) for designing and using the new Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS)]; and as an accountant at the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Dar es Salaam (1998-2000).
Since June 2000, Mr. John Ulanga was connected with higher-level national and contractual performance projects, which came to earn him a big name and trust. For instance, from 2000 to 2005, he was Coordinator of the Commissioned Studies section of the ESRF (Co-ordinating assignments are undertaken by ESRF, preparation of consultancy and funding proposals, selection of teams, budgeting, work plans, progress reports, quality monitoring, and control) and from April 2003 to November 2004, he was Deputy Team Leader and subsequently Team Leader on the Installation of Performance Management Systems in Government ministries, a commissioned ESRF Project in collaboration with a Canadian firm contracted by the Government of Tanzania. For ten years from November 2005 to January 2015, he was the Executive Director, the Foundation for Civil Society Ltd., which was responsible for the management of over 30 members of staff, with an annual budget of over USD 10 million per year and, at that time, the Foundation supporting over 800 civil society organisations in undertaking various projects in governance, accountability and social-policy-related areas relevant to the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty [MKUKUTA]. From May 2015 to July 2016 he was appointed as VicePresident, External Affairs, and Sustainability, in BG East Africa, an international exploration, production, and LNG company, a world leader in oil and gas exploration and liquefied natural gas - responsible for managing external engagements and sustainability programmes for BG Group operations in Tanzania and Kenya. From July 2016 to date John Ulanga has been serving as Country Director of TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), a not-for-profit aid company for a trade organisation that was established in 2010 with a budget of USD 560m for the period 2010-2017 to support economic development in East Africa. TMEA priority projects include those in Infrastructure improvements in Dar es Salaam Port, One-Stop Border Posts (Holilli, Kabanga, Mutukula, and Tunduma), Trade Facilitation, and Women and Trade. TradeMark Tanzania Programme has invested in 22 projects worth USD 103 million so far. As the Country Director, Mr. Ulanga is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the country programme and day to day supervision of the implementation of the projects in Tanzania.
Over the years, John Ulanga has accumulated experience and consolidated his intellectual capital in a number of other areas, for instance as Chairman on the University Council of the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University in Dar es Salaam; as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tanzania Financial Services for the Underserved Settlements (TAFSUS), an initiative to upgrade slums and underserved settlements in Tanzania; as a member on the Board of Directors of Mwananchi Communications Limited, publishers of The Citizen, Mwananchi and Mwanaspoti newspapers); as well as a Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors of the Tanzania Media Foundation. Mr. Ulanga has also served as a Member of the Africa Policy Advisory Board ONE Campaign (www.one.org) with similar concerns as the Public Service Reform Programme in Tanzania, which, back in March 2012, granted him support for a Senior Fellowship of the Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society Studies at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York. John has also benefited from a Fellowship of the African Leadership Initiative, East Africa, and the Aspen Global Leadership Network of the Aspen Institute in Colorado, USA.
In the evaluation of many, John provides a distinguished example of a dedicated business-accounting-management performance spirit of today’s world of work. In addition to the several talks, seminars, and symposia he has offered, he has to his credit as many as seventeen conference and convention papers. UDSM congratulates him so much and encourages him to go beyond.