The Governor


"You cannot grow the economy without carrying the stakeholders with you; we are going to focus on the growing of the various sectors that support our economy". Governor Ongwae.

Early Life and Education

H.E the Governor Hon. James Ongwae was born in Mwamonari Location, Marani District, Kitutu Chache North Constituency, Kisii County in 1952. He is married with four children.

Governor Ongwae attended Itierio Primary School and Kisii High School after which he joined the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Degree in Economics and Government.

He completed his Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the Institute of Social Studies-The Hague, Holland and a postgraduate Diploma in Management and Administration from East and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI) among other qualifications.

Public Service and Career

He joined the public service as a District Officer rising through the ranks to serve in various capacities including Immigration Officer, Management Analyst, Director of Civil Service Reform Programme, Permanent Secretary/Director of Personnel Management(DPM) in the Office of the President, Secretary/CEO for the Teachers Service Commission and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Governor has expertise in Policy formulation, analysis and support, Human Resource Management and Development, Management and Administration, Public administration reform and anti-corruption measures, Institutional Development and Capacity Building, Leadership and Capacity Development, Decentralization, local governance and urban/rural development, Results Based Management and Management Development.

During his public service tenure, he led and spearheaded various government initiatives, served in various government committees and managed various government policy projects.

He served in several government boards including: Commission of Adult Education Board, Commission of Higher Education, Kenya National Examination Council, Directorate of Industrial Training, Member of the Council of the University of Nairobi, Member of the Council of Maseno University, Member of the council of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Member of the Council of Egerton University and Associate member of the Kenya Institute of Management (K.I.M).

Governor Ongwae served as a member of the Governing Board of Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI) – Arusha, Tanzania for many years and Vice-President (East African Region) of the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM), which is an International African Management body supported by over twenty (20) African Governments.


Upon retirement in December 2005, Governor James Ongwae continued participating actively in shaping national leadership, development and political agenda. He vied for the Kitutu Chache parliamentary seat during the 2007 and in 2010 he actively participated in campaigning for the Kenya Constitution 2010.

He worked for the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga’s Presidential Secretariat in 2012 as the Chief Campaign Manager before leaving to run for the Kisii County gubernatorial seat during the March 3, 2013 general elections, which he won with a landslide.

H.E. Governor James Ongwae was sworn to office on 27 March 2013, thus becoming the first Governor of Kisii County under the new constitution dispensation.

Governor James Ongwae believes that you cannot grow the economy without carrying the stakeholders with you. In his leadership, he has focused on developing institutional frameworks that would lay a strong foundation for a prosperous Kisii County.

Of immediate focus is the development of various infrastructures to promote economic growth, creation of job opportunities, tackling poverty, improving educations standards, improvement of healthcare facilities, development of cottage industries and value addition and improvement of agricultural competitiveness.


Currently, Governor James Ongwae is the Vice Chairman of the Council of Governors of the Republic of Kenya and also the Vice Chairman of the Lake Region Economic Bloc-a conglomeration of 14 Kenyan counties in the Lake Victoria basin.


  • Policy formulation, analysis and support
  • Human Resource Management and Development
  • Management and Administration
  • Public administration reform and anti-corruption measures
  • Institutional Development and Capacity Building
  • Leadership and Capacity Development
  • Decentralization, local governance and urban/rural development
  • Results Based Management and Oversight
  • Management Development


  • Awarded the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart (E.G.H) in 2021
  • Awarded Commander of the Burning Spear of Kenya Medal (C.B.S) in 2004.
  • Awarded Elder of the Burning Spear of Kenya (E.B.S.) Medal in 2001.
  • Awarded Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (O.G.W.) Medal in 1995.
  • Awarded Head of State commendation (H.S.C.) Medal in 1994.

These awards were given by the then Heads of State for outstanding work to the Nation.

More in this category: « County Secretary Deputy Governor »