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Zanzibar, 17 August 2001 - Consideration of the marine and maritime dimensions of Zanzibar's history and culture, broader tourism opportunities and major education projects were among the expanded development initiatives agreed by His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims during a three-day visit to Tanzania.
In meetings with Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume and Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, the Aga Khan explored various cultural and economic development possibilities relating to the marine and maritime aspects of the Island's history. Recently recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Zanzibar's Stone Town has suffered considerable decay, although some preliminary efforts to conserve and restore a few specific buildings commenced in the late 1980s in the context of broader development endeavours. Pre-eminent amongst these were a number of major development initiatives successfully launched by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) following the signing of a Protocol of Co-operation for Development between the AKDN and the Government of Zanzibar in 1988.
Yesterday, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and the Aga Khan signed an Agreement of Co-operation for Development that further enhances the collaboration between the AKDN and Tanzania by permitting the Network to formalise the establishment of a mission in the country and facilitate the optimal utilisation of resources for the Network's development objectives.
New endeavours envisaged under the Agreement include major tertiary education initiatives such as the Aga Khan University's Advanced Nursing Studies Programme as well as a plan by the Aga Khan University's Institute for Educational Development to establish a Professional Development Centre for teachers and managers of educational institutions, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Foundation and the
Aga Khan Education Services.
The Aga Khan highlighted the importance to Tanzania's future of its human resources. "Much of Africa and Asia have suffered from very poor tertiary education for decades," the Aga Khan said. "We would like to be able to assist you," he continued, noting that "building institutions in Africa and Asia is a long and complex exercise."
Expressing concern, the Aga Khan also pointed to the need for "an extensive private-public collaboration in Africa of all agencies functioning in the healthcare field" to address HIV/AIDS, which he characterised as "a major threat to development in Africa." "Its also an educational question, not just a care question," he said, emphasising that the Aga Khan Health Network -- not just the hospitals -- is going to be involved in collaborating with international agencies and national governments "in trying first of all to assist those who are already in difficulty, but particularly also in educating people about the risks."
Citing some of "the many opportunities for extended collaboration in the years ahead," the Aga Khan also mentioned the Network's interest in Southern Tanzania as well as the potential for tourism linkages with Northern Mozambique.
Following the signing in 1991, of an earlier Agreement with Tanzania, the Network has advanced a number of initiatives in areas of social, cultural and economic development. Notable amongst these are: the completion of the first phase of the Shs.10 billion expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam, which has increased capacity by 56 beds, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, a larger Intensive Care Unit, new pharmacy and clinical facilities for various specialisations and a doctor's plaza; new multipurpose educational facilities and expansion of School Improvement Programmes; a mini-urban redevelopment plan for Zanzibar including restoration and re-use of historic buildings and spaces; greater investment in the industrial sector; strengthening of financial service companies in the banking and insurance sectors; and the opening of major upmarket tourism facilities.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions with specific mandates that range from health and education to rural development, culture, architecture and the promotion of private sector enterprise. These agencies and institutions, working together, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Africa and Asia. Established by the Ismaili Imamat (office of spiritual leadership) and 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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