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  • His Highness the Aga Khan speaks at the State Dinner held in his honour in the presence of His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania.
    AKDN / Zahur Ramji
Aga Khan announces the East African Community’s first regional university to be based in Arusha

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 19 August 2007 - His Highness the Aga Khan - the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims has announced plans to build a major new university campus in Arusha, in north-eastern Tanzania. He said the 450-million dollar complex will be developed over the coming 15 years.

The Ismaili leader made the announcement on Saturday, August 18th, during an official dinner hosted in his honour by Tanzania’s President, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

The Aga Khan said the decision to build the Arusha campus represented the biggest expansion move for the Aga Khan University – AKU - since it opened its first campus in Karachi, Pakistan, nearly 25 years ago. He stressed that the decision to erect a new campus in Arusha stemmed from his faith in the future of the East African Region.

“We hope that the University will be a source of effective leadership for the East Africa of tomorrow,” he said. Arusha is the official seat of the East African Community which includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The Tanzanian President praised the Aga Khan’s development efforts in his country and described the specific decision to build the Arusha campus as “good news for us.” The Tanzanian President thanked the Aga Khan for coming to Tanzania during his first Golden Jubilee trip as the Ismaili Imam. “Your deep attachment to our country has always been a source of pride and inspiration for us,” he said.

Tanzania was the second leg of the Aga Khan’s trip to East Africa – his first visit to the region since he completed 50 years as the Ismaili Imam on July 11th. Last week, the Ismaili leader visited Kenya where he announced a US$ 250 million project to create an AKU faculty of health sciences in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

“The Arusha and Nairobi projects of the Aga Khan University together represent a US $ 700 million investment in tertiary education in East Africa. The Aga Khan emphasised that the expansion of the Aga Khan University was a logical consequence of the Aga Khan Development Network’s investment in primary and secondary education. “Each forward step must lead to new steps,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday the Aga Khan visited the Island of Zanzibar --home to one of East Africa’s oldest Ismaili communities and the site of the region’s most ancient Ismaili jamatkhana (community prayer hall).

During an official luncheon hosted by Zanzibar’s President His Excellency Abeid Amani Karume, the Ismaili leader described Zanzibar as a “cultural jewel” and expressed readiness to invest in rehabilitation of the Island’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, concentrated in the Old Stone Town.

In Zanzibar, the Aga Khan was enthusiastically greeted by the Island’s small but vibrant Ismaili community. On Friday, the Aga Khan met the members of the Ismaili community in Dar-es-Salaam, including thousands of community members from East Africa and visitors from around the world.

On Sunday, the Aga Khan arrived in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, where he met with the country’s President Yoweri Museveni. He is scheduled to return to Dar-es-Salaam on Monday for another encounter with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

For more information, please contact:

Semin Abdulla
Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Tel: + 254 733 530 053


The Aga Khan Development Network

His Highness the Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$ 300 million.

Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

His Highness the Aga Khan completed his 50th year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on 11th July 2007, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah. The Aga Khan leads a community of 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries around the world and is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). In the Ismaili tradition, the Imam’s Jubilee celebrations offer occasions to launch new social, cultural and economic development projects. In keeping with the ethics of the faith, these projects aspire to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society. During the Jubilee year, the Aga Khan is expected to travel to a number of countries to meet with members of the Ismaili community and visit projects of the AKDN. He is also likely to announce the creation of new development institutions and projects and the significant expansion of existing ones.