Background and earlier career
Kouyaté was born in Koba, Guinea, then a French colony. He studied administration at the University of Conakry before joining the 
In 1982, Kouyaté worked on a rice development project, then moved to the diplomatic service, joining Guinea's delegation in Cote d'Ivoire. In 1985, he returned to the Foreign Ministry in Conakry as head of African and Organisation of African Unity affairs. Two years later, he became Guinea's ambassador to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and Turkey. In 1992, he became Guinea's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, where he became Vice President of the 
In 1993, he was appointed as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia for the  one of his first missions being a tour around ECOWAS member states to discuss the situation in Liberia. He continued his involvement in discussions to build regional support for a resolution of the  He left this job in September 1997 to become the Executive Secretary of the (ECOWAS), a post he held until February 2002.
During his time at ECOWAS, Kouyaté was awarded the Legion d'Honneur (Commander), the
African Star of Liberia and was made a Commander of the
Mono Order of