Throughout its 115 years in the region, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and its precursors have continued to innovate across the entire spectrum of development efforts. It looked to the future when it partnered with local communities and fledgling governments in the region to prepare for nation-building in a post-colonial world. Under the guidance of His Highness the Aga Khan, the AKDN established an institutional structure to support not just social development in education and health care, but also economic development covering financial services, insurance, hydropower, telecommunications, tourism and industrial development.
The AKDN has achieved key successes in these endeavours by having the courage to invest for the long term, having faith in the people of the region and applying new thinking to the region’s challenges. Its approach is rooted in the principle that successful development occurs when a continuum of development activities offers people not only a rise in incomes but a broad sustained improvement in the overall quality of life.
Today, we confront another transformative moment. East Africa is undergoing profound demographic changes characterised by a young population with declining child mortality and rapid growth. If proper investments are made in health and education – and there is an enabling environment for decent jobs and investments – the private sector, civil society and government can create a stimulus for sustained development. For these reasons, the AKDN looks to the future with optimism and supports governments in the region to harness this demographic dividend.
The AKDN is grateful to the governments of the EAC Partner States and other development partners. Experience over the past 115 years tells us that forging a stronger framework for development relies on deeper collaboration with national governments, closer relationships with our development partners and the significant support of the Ismaili Imamat, which underpins our programmes. Our work would neither be possible nor effective without their support in improving the quality of life for people in this region.