After the ruling CCM failed to select him as its candidate for the October 2015 presidential election, he left the party and stood instead as an opposition candidate. He was defeated in the election by CCM candidate John Magufuli.
Edward Lowassa is the fourth child of the herdsman Ngoyai Lowassa who worked part-time for the colonial government in the district of Monduli as a tarish (village law enforcement). Lowassa has a sister named Kalaine.
Edward Lowassa joined Monduli Primary School (which was later renamed to Moringe Primary School) in 1961. Lowassa was the school band leader at Monduli Primary School and in 1967 he sat for the CPEE. He then went on to advance his education at Arusha Secondary School in 1968 and sat for his O-Level Certificate, the CSEE in 1971. For his A levels, he attended Milambo Secondary School from 1972 to 1973 where he sat for his ACSEE. Lowassa received his undergraduate degree in BA Fine and Performing Arts. University of Dar es Salaam in 1977. At the University of Dar es Salaam, he encountered Jakaya Kikwete and John Chilligati. In 1978 he was drafted into the army and fought in the Kagera War between Tanzania and Uganda. Lowassa then went on to earn a MSc. Development Studies from The University of Bath in the United Kingdom in 1984.
Lowassa served as Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office during President Ali Hassan Mwinyi's second term. He sought the nomination of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) as its presidential candidate in 1995 but was eliminated in the early stages by the former President Julius Nyerere, who strongly believed that Lowassa was not then correct material for the Presidency. He retained his parliamentary seat and became a strong backbencher in Parliament until 1997 when he was appointed Minister for State in the Vice President's Office for Environment and Poverty.
Following the 2000 general elections, he was appointed Minister of Water and Livestock Development and made his mark as a hardworking minister. In 2005 Lowassa chose not to seek the CCM presidential nomination but became a key campaigner for his long-time friend, Jakaya Kikwete, in his bid for the presidential seat.
Kikwete, running on a CCM ticket, won the elections by beating other contestants by a large margin. He received 82% of the votes. In return, President Kikwete nominated Lowassa as Prime Minister on 29 December 2005. Parliament overwhelmingly confirmed the nomination, with 312 votes in favour and two opposed, and Lowassa was sworn in on 30 December. Lowassa has an extensive background in both parliamentary and government affairs.
On February 7, 2008, Lowassa was forced to resign after being implicated in the Richmond Energy deal corruption scandal. This followed a parliamentary select committee report on an emergency power generation contract between the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO), a public corporation, and a US company styled Richmond Development Company LLC of Houston, Texas. The five-member select committee, headed by Kyela MP, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, found the contract to have been fraudulently concluded, hence unconscionable. Richmond was contracted to provide 100 megawatts of electricity each day after a drought early in 2006 but the Richmond generators arrived late and did not work as expected. In spite of this, the government paid Richmond more than $100,000 a day. Lowassa's office then influenced the government's decision to extend Richmonds contract despite advice to the contrary form TANESCO. Two other cabinet ministers who had held the energy portfolio, Dr. Ibrahim Msabaha and Nazir Karamagi were forced to resign as well.
Lowassa however denied that his office was involved in improperly awarding a contract to US-based electricity company Richmond Development in 2006.
On 7 April 1997, Edward Ngoyayi Lowassa and his wife Regina Mumba Lowassa incorporated a company by the name of Barare Limited. They are both listed as shareholders, each with 500 shares. They were also both listed as directors of the company which was located on Maktaba Street, Dar es Salaam. In May 2009, Barare Limited was the subject of a money laundering investigation in the UK, after Lowassa's son, Frederick Edward Lowassa was suspected of money laundering.
In 1995, Lowassa was among the more than 15 CCM aspirants for the presidency, but he was stopped in his tracks by retired president Julius Nyerere, who found him to have enriched himself too fast. Lowassa was eliminated by Nyerere's fiat and that contest within the party was eventually won by Benjamin Mkapa, who also won the election and became Tanzania's third president.
In 2005, Lowassa strongly backed his friend Jakaya Kikwete and the two were dubbed "Boys Two Men" because of their strong political union that eventually enabled Kikwete to defeat all his rivals within the ruling party.
In 2014, Lowassa faced a one-year ban from CCM after he was accused of starting his campaign for presidency ahead of the authorized time. The ban expired in February 2015, only to be extended by the CCM Central Committee on the grounds that their final report was still not ready.
In May 2015, Lowassa eventually launched his presidential campaign in Arusha. He stated that his top priorities would be overhauling the country's education sector, reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and fighting corruption.
On 11 July 2015, the CCM Central Committee eliminated Lowassa from its list of presidential aspirants. CCM shortlisted January Makamba, Bernard Membe, Asha-Rose Migiro, John Magufuli and Amina Salum Ali for the National Executive Committee (NEC) vote of 378 members. The elimination of Lowassa came as a shock to many who viewed him as an inevitable candidate.
Having failed to get the nomination, Lowassa denounced the CCM as "infested with leaders who are dictators, undemocratic and surrounded with greedy power mongers." He left the party and instead joined Chadema, an opposition party. On 4 August 2015, he was designated as the presidential candidate of a coalition of four opposition parties, including Chadema.
Lowassa held various positions in the government since the late 1980s:Managing Director - Arusha International Conference Centre, 1989–1990
Minister for State, Prime Minister's Office and First Vice President (Judiciary & Parliamentary Affairs), 1990–1993
Minister of Lands, Human Settlement Development,1993–1995
Minister for State, Vice President's Office;— Environment & Poverty, 1997–2000
Minister of Water and Livestock Development, 2000–2005
Member of Parliament;— Monduli Constituency, 1990–2015
Prime Minister, 2005–2008