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His Highness the Aga Khan

Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Bujagali Hydropower Project

08 October 2012

 

Please also see: Press Release

Bismillah-ir-Rahaman-ir-Rahim

Your Excellency, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, and Your Excellency, the First Lady,
Your Excellency, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi,
Your Excellency, President Salva Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan,
Your Excellency, President Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,
Your Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of Tanzania,
Your Excellency, Mr Alhaji Adam Yusuf, Vice President of the Republic of Southern Sudan,
Hon. Minister of Defence of the Republic of Congo,
Hon. Minister of Defence of Angola,
Hon. Minister of Home Affairs, of Zambia,
The Rt. Hon Prime Minister of Uganda,
Hon. Minister of Energy and Mineral Development of Uganda,
Honourable Ministers,
Secretary General of the East African Community,
Secretary General of the Great Lakes Region,
Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps,
All other holders of high office and distinguished guests,

I want to mark this occasion as an occasion of very very great significance.

First of all, we are here to celebrate the 50 years of independence of Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. And it is an honour to be celebrating this event in the presence of President Museveni and so many distinguished leaders of other African nations.

It is also a pleasure to be joined today by all of you at the inauguration of the Bujagali Hydropower Plant - a momentous accomplishment that will open the door for continuing and expanding progress. It is not only a transformative development in the economic life of Uganda – and of the continent – but it is also an inspiring model of how such change can best be accomplished.

As we inaugurate the model today, I have two short comments I want to share with you:

The first is my admiration for the extraordinary diversity of men and women who came together to produce this remarkable project. We had planners and financiers, engineers and architects, scientists and government officials, suppliers and contractors, consultants, construction workers, and community leaders. And we had President Museveni and his government.

Their story is a compelling one, because in a project of this complexity, there are surprises that occur. When you have that number of participants working together for a five year period, those surprises have to be addressed by consensus; they cannot be addressed in any other way. And I would like to express my admiration for all the stakeholders who worked in such a united manner moving forward in the interest of the project and the interest of Uganda.

Let me give you one small example of the sort of issues that arose. The grid had to link to 100 kilometres of cable, and in order to do that, we had to cross 2,632 separate land parcels. That was just one small part of this vast endeavour.

At its heart, the Bujagali project is a Ugandan project. It is a Ugandan success story and again I would like to thank the President for having led this initiative in a way where this unique public private partnership was able to move forwards.

But this is not only a Ugandan project - it is a global project. As Nizar Juma said, 37 different nationalities participated from around the world to make this project move forwards.

The second point I would make is that this project has not stopped at the delivery of energy. It is investing in education, it is investing in healthcare, it is investing in social development, it is investing in all those aspects which improve the quality of life of people who live within the ambit of the project. And I think this is an important lesson to be learnt, because ultimately the goal is to improve the quality of life of people in the most complete manner possible.

Finally, let me address my thanks to all the stakeholders who have worked so well here. And I would refer to the project managers, to the contractors, to the workmen, to the lenders, who were very empathetic at a time when we needed their empathy, and I hope what we have learnt from this project, will give Uganda replicable knowledge for the benefit of all of Africa.

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