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Maputo, Mozambique, 27 February 2002 - The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an apex institution within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), has purchased the world-renowned Hotel Polana as the first step in a tourism development programme for Mozambique that will expand further AKFED’s interest in this sector of economic activity in Eastern Africa.
The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is an international development agency which promotes entrepreneurship in the private sector in specific regions of the developing world. A for-profit institution, the Fund helps to build economically viable enterprises through strong equity participation combined with management and technical expertise and support. AKFED companies promote sustainable economic development in South and Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with projects in industry, tourism, and financial services.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities.
“Following the acquisition of the Hotel Polana,” said Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Director of AKFED and Chairman of its Executive Committee, “AKFED and its Serena Group of Hotels, Lodges and Resorts will be able to broaden its tourism offering in Eastern Africa. Perhaps more important, with the Hotel Polana as a base, AKFED will be better placed to increase its commitment now, for the coming years, to a critical sector of Mozambique’s economy, namely its tourism or leisure industry. We will be looking at future possibilities to deepen our role in strengthening the country’s hospitality industry, revitalising its cultural assets and promoting sensitive and ecologically sound development. Our interest in the economic development of this country (of which tourism is one facet) is paralleled by our interest in rural development, in the social sector, health, education and in cultural matters. The AKDN takes an integrated approach to development”
Mozambique’s heritage draws on a dozen distinct indigenous ethnic groups, layered with the contributions of Arab and Indian traders and immigrants that pre-dated the Portuguese presence lasting from the late 15th century till 1975. Its natural resources include abundant wildlife and marine life, one of the largest coral reefs in the world and the longest coastline in Africa. Maputo, its sprawling capital, previously Lourenzo Marques, a centre of trade and industry and a port serving South African gold fields, became a vibrant cosmopolitan city under Portuguese influence.
Set in four hectares of tropical gardens overlooking the Bay of Maputo, the Hotel Polana, with 188 luxury rooms in the heart of the city, has played host to royalty, heads of state and leading personalities from all walks of life for nearly a century. Catering to the leisure guest as well as the business traveller, the Hotel Polana offers meeting and conference facilities, a health club, tennis courts and a swimming pool. It will be operated by AKFED’s tourism affiliate under the Serena brand name, currently present, and a leading player, in Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Pakistan.
It is understood that AKFED will set in motion the upgrading and refurbishing of facilities at the Hotel Polana in order to bring the hotel to world-class standards. The previous owners of the hotel are believed to have estimated essential upgrading and repair works at around US$ 2.0 million Serena is expected to be looking at the possible development of luxury coastal and island resorts, safari lodges and tented camps to compete with the best in Africa and to add to Serena’s already strong presence in the region.
Amongst the leading choices for travellers to Kenya, mainland Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar, Serena hotels and lodges are known to provide the highest standards of comfort and service within environments that meticulously promote indigenous architectural, craft and cultural traditions. Serena properties have been at the forefront of human resource development, of yielding foreign exchange revenue, of providing employment to local residents and of bringing environmental sensitivity to the tourism industry in the region. Recognised as a leader in conservation and environmental management, Serena already operates 20 hotels, resorts, safari lodges and tented camps in Kenya, Tanzania and Pakistan (having 1605 rooms).
AKFED’s acquisition of the Hotel Polana expands the commitment of the Aga Khan Development Network to Mozambique and complements its expanded social development initiatives in the country. These initiatives, commenced under an Agreement of Co-operation for Development, include a major rural development programme serving coastal communities in one of the country’s poorest regions, collaboration with university and professional training institutions and the planning of a major school complex in Maputo.
AKFED operates as a network of affiliates with more than 90 separate project companies employing over 15,000 people and is active in 15 countries in Asia and Africa: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The mandates of the Aga Khan Development Network’s agencies and institutions range from architecture and culture to health, education, rural development and the promotion of private sector enterprise. Working in over 20 countries, the Network’s underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.
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