Zanzibar, 19 July 2002 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and Zanzibar’s Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha today signed an Agreement of Co-operation to initiate a comprehensive urban rehabilitation proposal for the Seafront Area of Zanzibar’s Stone Town, after a private meeting with President Amani Abeid Karume.
The Seafront Area, characterised by many historic buildings and public open spaces, is one of the most culturally and economically significant parts of the Stone Town, itself recently recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Under the landmark initiative, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) envisages an important contribution to improving maintenance of urban heritage that has suffered considerable decay as well as to bettering the quality of life for the inhabitants of the Stone Town and the island as a whole.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Zanzibar Ports Corporation have also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly design a development plan for a section of the old port area. Redevelopment of this historic gateway to the Stone Town is expected to protect and preserve the urban fabric as it enhances the area’s value as a vibrant public space.
“Collaboration with governmental and other partners can help create considerable economic opportunity, as well as social and environmental benefits, as we continue to preserve and make productive valuable cultural assets” said the Aga Khan.
Today’s agreements follow the implementation of programmes and investments in Zanzibar by the AKDN of over TShs. 20 Billion since the signing of a Protocol of Co-operation for Development between the Network and the Government of Zanzibar in 1988. They include: pre-schools on Zanzibar and Pemba; an educational Resource Centre and the training of hundreds of teachers; the production of health education materials and a teacher training programme using the Child-to-Child approach; the founding of the NGO Resource Centre; the establishment of the Stone Town Cultural Centre, the Zanzibar Serena Inn and the rehabilitation of Kelele Square as examples of economically productive urban redevelopment projects.
Institutions of the AKDN have historical antecedents along the East African seabord going back over a hundred years, including in Zanzibar. Today, the Network has an extensive presence in the region covering Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Uganda and Congo. AKDN non-profit agencies operate schools, university campuses, hospitals and health centres as well as rural development schemes. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, the venture capital agency of AKDN operates industrial enterprises, hotels and lodges and infrastructure projects in developing countries of Africa and Asia.
The Aga Khan, who leaves Zanzibar today, earlier this week participated in the Investors’ Roundtable in Tanzania supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture oversees the AKDN’s cultural activities. Its restoration and urban revitalisation projects range from settings as varied as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Spain, Syria and Zanzibar. The Trust administers the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the world’s largest architectural prize. In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, the Trust’s Education and Culture Programme has developed ArchNet, an Internet-based network that will provide students and professionals around the world with a globally accessible resource on architecture, urban design and related issues such as restoration, conservation and housing design and construction. In Central Asia, the Trust is also involved in the preservation and revival of traditional music and the d esign of humanities curricula for universities and schools.
The 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. 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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