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Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7701r.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Friday, 11 June 2021 1623396600 Speech by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University speech Kenya 2020s 257250 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7701r.jpg Aga Khan University AKU Kenya Education,Health

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is no event that I look forward to more than one involving the education sector. 

Why? This is because education helps us prepare for the days and years ahead, which is a key pillar of my vision of a Better Kenya.  

The possibilities brought forth by education and knowledge drive dreams; fuel innovation; spur gender equality; and create limitless possibilities for individual and national progress.

Today is the day that will feature prominently in the history of our nation: the day we empowered a generation and expanded the capacity for delivering our destiny.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With us on this momentous occasion, though virtually, is, His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismaili Muslim Community.  He has joined us to celebrate the culmination of his far-sighted vision and contribution to the education sector for our beloved Republic.

The phrase “Aga Khan” has become synonymous with elevating educational standards and delivering holistic training.  From pre-school to tertiary learning, its footprints are felt in this nation and region as a whole; with the present university that we are awarding a Charter today, being the latest testament of the journey of academic excellence that is, the Aga Khan brand.

The Aga Khan University’s journey for the award of a Charter started in earnest almost three decades ago.  By being focused and committed, and working hard, we can see today the enviable results of the decades’ long process.

This University is integrated with the Aga Khan Hospital, which itself offers training and health services to our people, in a manner that finely balances the theoretical, practical and empirical aspects of education.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The long-standing partnership between the Kenya Government, the Ismaili community and the Aga Khan Development Network, spans over 100 years.  This fruitful relationship has brought about tremendous benefits to the welfare of many Kenyans across the country. 

Indeed, the Ismaili community’s contribution to the education sector traces back to 1905, when the first Aga Khan School opened in Nairobi.  After the end of the First World War in 1918, His Highness the Aga Khan’s grandfather began establishing an educational network in East Africa, the foundation of the wide footprint we enjoy in the present day.

The solemnity of this ceremony is affirmed by the fact that the University and the Hospital whose benefits have been enjoyed by millions of Kenyans, feature graduate training that takes in the best students, regardless of whether they can afford to pay fees or not.

Many of the students admitted to the Aga Khan University and Hospital are supported financially by the institution, thanks to the courtesy of its commitment to humanity through service.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The idea of the Aga Khan University (AKU) came about in the mid-1970s, with the dream of creating a university in the developing world, which would have the highest of international standards.

That dream university, which is today's reality, was meant to offer the best education while improving the quality of life of all those within its reach.  Today, that noble idea has come to fruition.  Today, we have the first world-class university, focused on some of our key growth areas in our society, including health care, education, media and communication.

There is an evolving momentum for quality assurance in institutions of higher learning. It is paramount that the Aga Khan University, and, indeed, all universities in our country, align themselves to the promotion of quality education.  You must strive to remain compliant to both the programmatic and institutional standards set by our professional regulatory bodies such as the Commission for University Education.

On the part of our regulatory institutions in the education sector, each must execute its mandate fully in order to guarantee the quality of university education in our country is not compromised. Regulatory standards are not mere exercises in box ticking.  They are the lifeblood of a vital process that ensures that learning delivers tangible benefits for both the learner as well as the nation.

To the Aga Khan University, I urge you to build on a century of excellence and distinction by striding forward with ideas centered on knowledge, inquiry, discussion, authenticity, truth, application, critique, care, development and action.

Today, my call to you is to commit to become a leader in health care, media, communication and hospitality; stay abreast with the changes in the world and provide solutions to the many challenges brought by an ever-changing world. 

In the last year, the challenges we have faced arising from the COVID-19 pandemic call for strategies and solutions that are multifaceted and multidisciplinary.  I trust that this University will answer that call.

Permit me to use this occasion to also appeal to your researchers and practitioners to do all that is necessary to find solutions for our healthcare challenges, especially with regard to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As I conclude, let me say that given the long-established tradition of offering high-quality education in this country upon which this institution is based upon, I urge the Aga Khan University to invest in research and training that will support our new focus on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

The Competence Based Curriculum is a revolutionary step we took as a country to provide our learners with 21st century practical skills relevant to the needs of the present world.

I trust that the Aga Khan University will deliver on the same and produce excellent graduates who can tackle a multitude of challenges, improve their current situations and positively affect our society to become responsible global citizens.  

Congratulations to Aga Khan University.

God bless Kenya, His Highness the Aga Khan, and us all.

speech_257251 <p>“The idea of the Aga Khan University came about in the mid-1970s, with the dream of creating a university in the developing world, which would have the highest of international standards,” said His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta.&nbsp; “Today is the day that will feature prominently in the history of our nation: the day we empowered a generation and expanded the capacity for delivering our destiny.</p> English
Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7517r.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Friday, 11 June 2021 1623417300 Address by President Firoz Rasul at the Inauguration of the University Centre Nairobi, Kenya speech Kenya 2020s 8941 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7517r.jpg Aga Khan University AKU Kenya Education,Health

Your Excellency Honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya;

His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chancellor of the Aga Khan University;

The Aga Khan University family, supporters and friends:

The inauguration of the University Centre is a milestone whose importance to the Aga Khan University, and to Kenya, is signified by the presence of Your Excellency President Kenyatta. Thank you once again, Your Excellency, for joining us today.

We have heard the University’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, express his gratitude to the Government for its confidence in the Aga Khan University. AKU is also confident – confident in Kenya and its people, whose talent and hunger for knowledge are the foundation upon which this University is built. Indeed, it is because we are so confident in Kenya and its future that we have built the University Centre we are inaugurating today.

The Centre will be the springboard that launches a new era in the Aga Khan University’s history in Kenya – an era that will witness the fulfillment of our ambitious plans for growth and impact. It will serve as the University’s principal campus in Kenya, bringing together in one place for the first time our Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Graduate School of Media and Communications, Institute for Human Development, Brain and Mind Institute and other programmes. It will enable us to establish new academic degree programmes, implement new research projects, and substantially expand our enrollment. And we will continue our financial assistance programme to enable students who cannot afford the tuition fees to attend our University.

The Centre is one of the largest investments in higher education in Kenya’s recent history, encompassing 37,500 square metres or 400,000 square feet, and constructed and equipped at a cost of US$ 50 million or more than 5.3 billion Ksh. It features two towers with a total of 23 floors above and below ground, making it an example of a best-in-class vertical urban campus. Approximately 2,000 Kenyans were employed in designing, building, and equipping this facility.

But more than its size or its budget, it is the convictions that the University Centre embodies that make it so significant.

At the Aga Khan University, we believe that Kenyans deserve the very best. The Centre was designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm Payette of Boston based in USA. In addition to AKU’s other campuses, Payette has designed buildings for some of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Columbia. Payette was ably supported by the local architecture firm Symbion and construction was carried out to exacting standards by Kenya’s Laxmanbhai Construction Limited.

We believe that education must evolve to keep pace with changing times and changing demands. Therefore, our classrooms are equipped with the latest technology for teaching and learning. Our laboratories are state-of-the-art. Our Graduate School of Media and Communications features a multimedia newsroom alongside radio and TV studios. And we are investing US$ 2.5 million, or 270 million Ksh, to create East Africa’s first cutting-edge facility for simulation-based health education on the University Centre’s first floor.

The Centre for Innovation in Medical Education will enable our nursing and medical students to hone their clinical skills using incredibly lifelike patient mannequins in highly realistic hospital settings. Students will be able to practice everything from delivering babies to caring for patients with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. As a result, our students will be exceptionally well-prepared for the real-world challenges they will face.

We also believe that education and knowledge creation are social and collective endeavours. Today, research is typically collaborative, often interdisciplinary, and increasingly international in scope. Hence, we have designed the University Centre to stimulate interaction and intellectual exchange.

We have courtyards, terraces, a stunning atrium, and an outdoor amphitheatre – all spaces that will bring faculty, staff, students, and visitors together in settings that uplift and inspire. We have an exhibition hall and an auditorium with video conferencing and streaming systems that will enable us to convene researchers and members of the public from across Kenya and beyond. And we have that blend of diverse influences that characterizes the Aga Khan University – the distinctive red brick of Nairobi, teak from Sudan, patterns inspired by the architecture of the Islamic world, and the entrance portal that connects this campus to our campus in Karachi.

As it fills up, the University Centre will exude the cosmopolitan energy of a university at home in the 21st century, and eager to forge connections across borders and boundaries of all kinds. It will be an exciting place to work, to learn, to teach, and to expand the frontiers of knowledge, as we have done with the international clinical trials for treatments from COVID-19.  Just as the Aga Khan University Hospital has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the quality of health care in East Africa through international standards and accreditation, AKU’s new campus will be at the centre of the drive to raise standards in university education and research.  

That the University Centre is such a place is due to the efforts of many people. We cannot thank our Kenyan and international donors enough, because without their generosity this building would not have been possible. I am grateful to all those whose courage and dedication made it possible to complete this immense project despite the many challenges created by the pandemic. I also wish to thank the Ministry of Education and the Commission for University Education for their support and partnership.

Finally, I wish to thank our Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose vision, inspiration, and insistence on uncompromising quality have enabled the University to make a tangible difference in so many people’s lives.

Thanks to all our supporters, the Aga Khan University will be educating leaders, advancing knowledge, and improving quality of life in Kenya from this one-of-a-kind building for many decades to come.

Thank you.

speech_257232 <p>In his inaugural address of the University Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, Aga Khan University President Firoz Rasul described the US $50 million investment designed by internationally renowned architecture firm Payette of Boston to be “the springboard that launches a new era in the Aga Khan University’s history in Kenya – an era that will witness the fulfilment of our ambitious plans for growth and impact”.&nbsp;</p> English
Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-0613r.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Friday, 11 June 2021 1623408300 Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University speech Kenya 2020s 6926 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwwEcV4dc3Q 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-0613r.jpg Aga Khan University AKU Kenya Health

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta

Professor George Magoha, Cabinet Secretary for Education

Professor Chacha, Chairman of the Commission for University Education

Excellencies

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

It is with the greatest satisfaction and the deepest gratitude that I accept the Kenya Charter of the Aga Khan University. My only regret is that, due to the pandemic, I cannot be present in person to receive the instruments of authority, and to celebrate this momentous occasion in the University’s history.

The Charter details AKU’s functions, powers, obligations, and governance. But it is more than a legal document. It is a vote of confidence in AKU and all those who are part of it – our faculty, our staff, administration, students, alumni, friends and supporters.

Your Excellency – Thank you for your confidence in the Aga Khan University. Thank you for creating an enabling environment that has allowed AKU to flourish, and for recognising that private institutions can play a vital role in promoting public welfare.

I would also like to thank the Commission for University Education, which has managed the difficult feat of acting as both a demanding regulator and a supportive partner. AKU is a better university because of the Commission’s efforts to improve the quality of tertiary education in Kenya.  

In this venue we see dramatic confirmation that the University is indeed thriving. Our new University Centre is the soaring embodiment of AKU’s commitment to Kenya, and determination to ensure that its people have access to the very best in higher education and health care. It is also a testament to the power of giving. The construction of the Centre was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of a number of individuals and families who are joining us today, and whose names will be permanently engraved on its walls and glass balustrades.  I am profoundly grateful for their support, as is the entire AKU community.

While its Charter is new, AKU is a firmly established institution in Kenya: It has been operating here since 2002, under a letter of interim authority from the Government. Moreover, as an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, the University is part of a wide-ranging effort to improve quality of life in East Africa, and that dates back more than 100 years, to the schools founded by my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, in the early 20th century.

Milestones in the Network’s history include the founding of enduring institutions such as Jubilee Insurance, the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi – now the Aga Khan University Hospital – and the Nation Media Group, all of which have now been serving Kenya for more than 60 years.

Today, I think we can say without exaggeration that AKDN and its agencies, including the Aga Khan University, are part of the fabric of life in Kenya and East Africa.

What then has the University achieved in its first two decades? And what does its future hold? Let us begin with its accomplishments thus far.

First, the University has educated much-needed leaders.

In total, nearly 4,000 students have graduated from AKU in East Africa. Among them are more than 1,400 Kenyan nurses, doctors, educators, and journalists –  70 percent of whom, I would note, are women.

Across the country and the region, AKU alumni are leading departments, institutions, and professional organisations. They are founding schools and clinics. They are winning awards, including Kenya’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Award. They are raising standards in both the public and the private sectors, and in rural areas as well as cities.

Second, AKU has developed into an institution capable of delivering problem-solving knowledge, and of sharing its expertise with other organisations.

AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health has published one of the most comprehensive analyses of maternal and child health in Kenya and is working with its fellow AKDN agencies to help government health facilities in Kilifi and Kisii counties to improve health for thousands of women and children.

Our Institute for Human Development has trained hundreds of professionals in the science of early childhood development and is conducting a multi-faceted research and intervention project to support child development in underprivileged communities.

The University’s new Cancer Centre is one of the few centres in Sub-Saharan Africa equipped to conduct cancer clinical trials. As such, it will bring new treatments to cancer patients that would otherwise be unavailable in Kenya.

Throughout the pandemic, AKU researchers have been working to deliver new insights and tools in the fight against the novel coronavirus. For example, the University was one of only two institutions in Africa to contribute to an international clinical trial that evaluated the use of the drug tocilizumab to treat patients with COVID-19. It is now part of the standard treatment protocol worldwide.

AKU experts have also provided advice and training on caring for patients with COVID-19 to government clinics and hospitals.

As these and many other efforts demonstrate, AKU is no ivory tower. It is deeply concerned with, and connected to, the lives of ordinary Kenyans.

Third, the University has expanded access to high-quality health care and raised standards in healthcare delivery.

The Aga Khan University Hospital, Kenya’s only internationally accredited teaching hospital and its 45 outreach clinics serve almost every major centre in the country. The Hospital also provides free health screening to tens of thousands of individuals through its medical camps.

During the pandemic, the Hospital has treated over 2,000 seriously ill COVID patients, conducted more than 76,000 tests for the coronavirus and vaccinated over 10,000 people.

All this was possible because we are the only private institution in Kenya to train specialist doctors who provide the country with much needed medical knowledge and skills. We also create opportunities for working nurses to upgrade their training to earn degrees at an international standard. Not to mention, the master teachers we develop to improve schools and the journalists whose capabilities we raise to be able to report using multiple platforms, including digital media.

In short, as called for in its Charter,  Aga Khan University has “prepared individuals for constructive and exemplary leadership…responded to identified needs in the countries it serves…and provided meaningful contributions to society”.

In the years to come, it will continue to do so.

Charter in hand and newly housed in a dynamic urban campus unlike any other in the region, the University will launch new programmes in nursing and medicine. And its new Nairobi-based Brain and Mind Institute will undertake cutting-edge research aimed at improving mental health, especially among women, adolescents and disadvantaged populations.

As its student body and its faculty grow in size, its visibility and impact will increase, new programmes will come online, much about the Aga Khan University will change. What will not change is its principle of uncompromising quality and its mission of improving quality of life in Kenya.

I look forward to continuing to pursue that mission together with the University’s trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers, donors and partners; in accordance with the Charter we have been granted today; and with the support and encouragement of the Government of Kenya.  

Thank you very much.

speech_257230 <p>“It is with the greatest satisfaction and the deepest gratitude that I accept the Kenya Charter of the Aga Khan University,” said His Highness the Aga Khan.&nbsp; “The Charter details AKU’s functions, powers, obligations and governance. But it is more than a legal document. It is a vote of confidence in AKU and all those who are part of it – our faculty, our staff, administration, students, alumni, friends and supporters.”</p> English
Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-scoviah_valedictorian.jpg Karachi, Pakistan Friday, 21 May 2021 1621681200 Valedictorian address by Ms Scoviah Masudio at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2020s 257039 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl5tdbpIw8k 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-scoviah_valedictorian.jpg Aga Khan University Aga Khan University (AKU) Education,Health

Graduands of 2020, the provost, the university administration, honored guests, family, friends, and well-wishers, we are so honored to have you all here on this beautiful and auspicious occasion as we celebrate the dawn of an important chapter in our lives. My name is Scoviah Masudio, and I am so honored to be representing the class of 2020 today.

I thank God for the grace and preservation of our lives that we are here today witnessing an important milestone in our lives. Despite the numerous disruptions and setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have persevered and we stand proud today as we declare ourselves champions!

I come from a family of 10 siblings and several cousins. My father (God rest his soul) finally attained his first degree at the age of 58. He told me, “my daughter, I don’t have money, neither am I much educated, but what I can tell you is that if I have managed to get my degree at this age, then nothing can ever stop you from achieving your dreams. He said you must go back to school. I want those that classified me as a failure to know that great people have emerged from my family”. Alas! Here I am today, the first girl from a long line of my family to graduate with a degree. That is history made for me, small as it is. Today is a dream manifesting into the reality!

I did not achieve this on my own. I am here today because of each and every one of you. Thank you, the university administration, the faculties and school staff. You never gave up on us, you guided and nurtured us so diligently and now it’s our time to blossom.

To family and friends, thank you for the endless sacrifices you made to ensure that this day comes to pass. To my classmates, thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

To the Johnson & Johnson scholarship scheme, words alone can’t express our gratitude. Thank you very much.

We all have dreamt and eagerly waited for the convocation day, and it has finally arrived! But what happens after today? What does your degree or diploma mean to you? Is it going to be another piece of paper to add to your living room decorations? What are you going to do with what you have got from Aga Khan University? To the nurses and midwives, are we just excited about becoming nursing or midwifery officers? What impact will your qualifications have on the lives and training of your colleagues at work who did not have the opportunity to go back to school?

We have been empowered and are now being set free into the world, battle-tested and ready to serve humanity as agents of change, through our various disciplines.

We have received the training and skills to be the best we can be out there but are we prepared to deal with failure? I am not saying you will be a failure, but this is life. It's never a straight and smooth path. It’s filled with hills, rough terrains, and unexpected curveballs. You will apply for jobs and never get called back, you will try to save that mother bleeding, and she will die.  How do you deal with all of this? Remember, no one is perfect. Every time we fall, we get an opportunity to rise stronger and wiser to deal with what made us fall. The number of times you fall doesn’t matter; it is the number of times you refuse to stay on the ground that counts. Failure should never hold you back; it should instead ignite more fire in you to want to learn a better way to handle the same problem. The first semester was tough for me, I did not perform as I expected, coupled with the loss of my father, I was so discouraged and almost gave up. Well, here I am today.  I decided that I am not a quitter, and neither are you!

This is our moment to shine, go and make a difference in the world. Make use of every opportunity that comes your way, if the opportunities are not there, create them yourself. You will discover that you have more potential and capability than you give credit to yourself. You are unstoppable, you have all you need to rewrite your history.  Create your own legacy, put passion and dedication in everything you do, face all your fears with boldness and courage, turn your weak points into your strongest. Be the best version of yourself every day.

Thank you and good luck to you all!

Congratulations class of 2020! God bless you.

 

speech_257044 <p dir="rtl" style="text-align: justify;"><span dir="RTL" lang="AR-SA" style="font-size:12.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">"أنا هنا اليوم أول فتاة من ضمن سلسلة طويلة من عائلتي تتخرج بدرجة علمية، ورغم ذلك، فهذا تاريخ متواضع بالنسبة لي، وحلمي اليوم يصبح حقيقةً". </span></span></span></p> English
Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-anam-ehsan_valedictorian.jpg Karachi, Pakistan Friday, 21 May 2021 1621680300 Valedictorian address by Ms Anam Ehsan at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2020s 257038 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnRFpy1nmTk 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-anam-ehsan_valedictorian.jpg Aga Khan University Aga Khan University (AKU) Education,Health

The Chancellor,
Honorable Chief Guest,
Ladies and gentlemen,
And my fellow graduates,

The Aga Khan Class of 2020 – or as a friend once jokingly called us ‘The Aga Khan Class of COVID’. This may be an unconventional ceremony, we may be sitting here with masks and have loved one’s hundreds of miles away, but let me tell you all, even a global pandemic could not stop us from graduating. Congratulations AKU Class of 2020! You did it. We all did it. Before reflecting on all that we are celebrating today I want you to picture a few, very true stories.

Ayesha is 4 years old, she lives in a village in Pakistan, she doesn’t learn and laugh at school, instead she is on her knees sweeping floors to earn for the family. She is just one of the 22.5 million uneducated children in Pakistan. Simoni is a few days old orphan in Tanzania. Her mother died in labor, bleeding on a bus. Tanzania has amongst the highest maternal mortality in the world. Njuguna (jookuna) is a resident nurse in Murang, Kenya. He is the only healthcare provider for 8000 people. He must rely on the cleaner to help run the clinic. WHO recommends an average of 25 nurses per 10,000 people, Kenya barely has 8.

I do realize this is rather a grim note to start such a joyous occasion on, however it is with a purpose that I share these stories. Today, all of you sitting in this beautiful green regalia, are not only celebrating your hard work, blood sweat and tears, sacrifices and accomplishments – you are celebrating so much more. You are celebrating the hope you symbolize for Ayesha, Simoni and Njugana (jookuna) and thousands of others. You are celebrating being change makers and leaders in the nations that built you and now need you, and in a world currently facing its worst humanitarian crisis in our lifetime with COVID-19. Now more than ever before, the world needs doctors, nurses and midwives, it needs educationists and journalists, it needs health system experts and epidemiologists it needs men and women like YOU to change the landscape; to ensure that such suffering ceases to exist and to ensure that we as nations and as humanity are better prepared. Why am I so confident that you and I are so instrumental and can be this momentous change?

That is because over the years I have grown old with many of you. I have learnt first-hand what the Aga Khan Student embodies. Commitment, leadership, talent. The Aga Khan Student is simply amongst the best. But that is not all I learnt over the years. The time was also filled with days sneaking in and out of lecture halls, hysterically laughing on exam nights, spending hours on end at the Sports Centre. There were also the tougher days where a patient’s father grabbed your hand crying, begging, pleading with you to save their child and even days where you accidentally prescribe an EEG instead of an ECG. All these days – the happy, the sad, the grueling, the gratifying – have culminated in so many memories and a much deserved today.

None of this would exist without the security guards, housekeeping staff, librarians, cooks, administration – thank you for making every day possible. Thank you to the phenomenal faculty. Thank you to the friends like family. Thank you to those who are probably happier than we are right now – our loved ones and relatives; especially our parents; today is as much yours as it is ours. And, finally, thank you to the man who built our futures, His Royal Highness The Chancellor.

Before I end, I would like to leave you with two ideas. Family and hope. Today we are not the Aga Khan University Nairobi or Kenya or Uganda or UK or Pakistan, we are simply the Aga Khan University. The AKU family, inextricably linked to one another – and like every family it can be too much at times, but it will always have your back. And today, as we leave the nest, I have the audacity to hope. I am talking about the hope that we will always try our level best and if it is one life we save, one child we teach, one story we change – it is more than enough. It is the hope of a better future, together. Fellow graduates, especially over the past year, we have been living history, but I think it is high time that you and I go out there and start making some history. I cannot wait to see all that you achieve. Here is to new adventures.

 

 

                                     

speech_257043 <p dir="RTL" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="direction:rtl"><span style="unicode-bidi:embed"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span lang="AR-SA" style="font-size:12.0pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">"بينما نغادر عُشَّنا اليوم، أمتلك الجرأة على الأمل كثيراً بالمستقبل. الأمل في أن نقدّم كل ما بوسعنا، سواء أسهمنا في إنقاذ حياة أحد المرضى، أو قمنا بتعليم أحد الأطفال، أو بتغيير مجرى إحدى القصص، فإن هذا إنجازٌ رائعٌ. إنه الأمل بمستقبل أفضل معاً. لذلك دعونا اليوم نضع علامة على البداية وليس النهاية. زملائي الخريجون، أنجزنا ولا سيّما خلال العام الماضي الكثير من الأعمال، والتي أصبحت سجلاً في تاريخنا، وأعتقد أن الوقت قد حان لأن نخرج جميعاً لنبدأ في صنع حكاية وكتابة تاريخ جديد".</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> English
Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2021-melinda-french-gates.jpg Friday, 21 May 2021 1621679400 Speech by Mrs Melinda French Gates at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2020s 257037 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MO6HOTmVsc 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2021-melinda-french-gates.jpg Aga Khan University Aga Khan University (AKU) Education,Health

Hello everyone. I am honored to join you today.

And thank you, Anita, for the kind introduction. Anita does an amazing job as the president of our Gender Equality Division and the director of our Vaccine Development programme at the Gates Foundation. Aga Khan University alums are represented at the highest levels of our Foundation!

I also want to thank His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman Debas and the Board of Trustees, President Rasul and Provost Amrhein for inviting me today, and for their hard work in making Aga Khan University an exemplary institution.

From leading surveys on nutrition, and maternal and child health research in Pakistan and Kenya, to helping introduce multiple vaccines where they are so needed, Aga Khan University is not only a global resource – it is a transformative force for public health and women’s health.

So thank you to everyone who has worked to make AKU such a success – the administration, the faculty, and the many donors who have supported the University over the years.

Most of all, I want to congratulate today’s graduates on their impressive achievement, as well as the parents and relatives here today to share in this joyous occasion.

I particularly want to recognise the many who are the first in their family to earn a degree. Even though today is just one step in your journey, you have already accomplished an amazing feat.

Congratulations!

And I’m especially delighted to see a graduating class that is more than 70 per cent women.

As graduates of AKU, you join a remarkable group of women and men who are changing lives for the better all over the world. And let me tell you: the world desperately needs your energy and your leadership.

We are nearly a year and a half into the biggest global public health crisis in a century. And even as vaccines roll out, the pandemic still threatens millions of families across the planet.

And along with sickness and death, COVID-19 has disrupted economies and has shattered livelihoods. So after years of declines, poverty and hunger are on the rise. Basic, life-saving fundamentals of good health have become even harder to come by. Childhood vaccination rates were set back 25 years in just 25 weeks.

And women, who make up 70 per cent of the global health workforce, are bearing the brunt of the economic pain unleashed by this pandemic. Their jobs and economic security have been disproportionately devastated, even as they continue to handle most of the child and family care.

So let me be clear: The only way the world will rebound is by putting women at the centre of recovery efforts. And we need more leaders everywhere to make that case and act.

And that’s why I’m so inspired to be here today. You, the graduating class of 2021, are the leaders we need.

Wherever you go and whatever you choose to do with your degree, I have tremendous faith that you will be the architects of a better, fairer, and more equitable world.

We’re proud of our partnership with AKU over the years, including eradicating polio and other infectious diseases, improving maternal and child health and nutrition, reducing stillbirths, and, most recently, helping nurses respond to COVID-19.

I can’t wait to see the positive change you’ll bring. Congratulations, graduates. Let’s go out and make a better world.

Thank you.

speech_257042 <p dir="RTL" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="direction:rtl"><span style="unicode-bidi:embed"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span lang="AR-SA" style="font-size:12.0pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">"أود أن أُهنئ خريجي اليوم على إنجازاتهم الرائعة، كما أُجّه التهنئة لأولياء الأمور والأقارب الموجودين هنا لمشاركتهم حضور هذه المناسبة السعيدة. وأرغب بشكلٍ خاصٍ بالتعرف على الكثيرين ممن كانوا أول من حصل على درجة علمية في عائلاتهم. ورغم أن هذا اليوم هو مجرد خطوة أولى خلال رحلتكم، إلا أنكم قمتم بالفعل بإنجازات مذهلة".</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> English
The Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-firoz-rasul-r.jpg Karachi, Pakistan Friday, 21 May 2021 1621678500 Speech by President Firoz Rasul at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2020s 8941 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf3ltXkDeVw 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-firoz-rasul-r.jpg Aga Khan University Aga Khan University (AKU) Education,Health

His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the University
Our Chief Guest Melinda French Gates
Chairman Haile Debas and members of the Board of Trustees;
Provost and Vice President, Academic Carl Amrhein
Faculty, staff, alumni, donors, partners, friends, and family members
And most importantly, our graduands:

Assalam-u-alaikum, hamjambo, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening.

Today is a historic day for the Aga Khan University. Thanks to the power of technology, we are conducting our first-ever global convocation ceremony simultaneously across 13 times zones. We are bringing together our graduands, their family members, and AKU’s faculty and staff in six countries, our trustees in nine countries, and our friends and well-wishers in countless locations across the world. Only a uniquely international institution like AKU could connect so many people across so many borders and boundaries. I am very grateful to the teams in several countries who made this possible.

An occasion like this deserves a chief guest with a truly global vision, influence, and reputation – and no one fits that description better than Melinda French Gates. We are extremely grateful for her participation, which I know will be an inspiration to our graduands.

This ceremony marks the end of the Class of 2020’s journey at AKU, and the beginning of its next adventure. And it punctuates a year unlike any other in the lives of the graduands or the University’s existence – a year of formidable challenges and momentous achievements.

The path the graduands walked was winding, steep, and strewn with obstacles. But they navigated it with the courage, agility, and perseverance that are the hallmarks of true AKU Leopards. 

Graduands, you passed the test of 2020 with flying colors. Nothing can stop you now.

This is a unique moment in the world’s history. It is an extraordinary time to be graduating. The pandemic has robbed millions of their lives and even more of their livelihoods. But it has also inspired unforgettable acts of sacrifice, solidarity, innovation, and ingenuity. And it has opened our eyes to the selfishness and inequity that continue to disfigure our world.

In exposing harsh realities to public view, the coronavirus has planted the seed of transformation in our midst. More and more people are asking themselves a simple, but profound question: What can I do to help? How can I make a difference?

Certainly, that question has been resonating in our thoughts here at AKU. Before I proceed, I would like you to hear how some of our faculty and staff are answering it.

Malnutrition, lack of education, gender inequality, chronic illness – these are daunting problems. As part of the Aga Khan Development Network, AKU is tackling all of them and many other issues with the fearlessness and creativity that have defined the University for the past 38 years.

And today, the 667 members of the Class of 2020 are joining the fight.

They are part of a new generation. The men and women of this generation are the most educated in history, with many being the first in their family to attend university. They possess the confidence that comes with their immense numbers, for in much of Asia and Africa, the young constitute a majority of the population. Born into the digital era, they are at home online and eager to make full use of technology’s potential.

Crucially, they know the remarkable feats and unity of purpose that a great undertaking can inspire. For in 2020 and 2021, they have risen to every occasion. And so has AKU. 

Day after day, our health professionals have masked up, donned their protective gear, and bravely served on the front lines. Even as I speak, they are doing so. All of us have worked by the light of their example, seeing in them models of compassion and dedication.

AKU’s researchers have helped to deliver new tools in the battle against the pandemic. Our genetic sequencing capabilities have put us at the forefront of testing and tracking new viral mutations. We contributed to multiple international clinical trials of drugs and vaccines, in partnership with leading universities and pharmaceutical companies. We met challenges with innovation, 3D-printing nasal swabs and building our own UV-light device to sterilize hospital spaces.

When lockdowns were imposed, our faculty and staff worked around the clock to ensure our students could continue learning online, including by providing connectivity and laptops where needed. And where circumstances allowed, we brought our students safely back to campus. 

When governments requested our help in training public-sector doctors and nurses in caring for COVID patients, we leapt at the opportunity. Our online courses have reached more than 22,000 individuals. And our hotline enables doctors at other hospitals to get AKU’s advice on caring for severely ill COVID patients. 

We are profoundly grateful to all those who made such achievements possible. In a time of endless strains and stresses, our faculty and staff continued to meet the highest standards. At every turn, our alumni, former staff, volunteers, and students asked: “How can we help?”

The support of our partners has been indispensable, including that of development agencies such as Global Affairs Canada, the German government’s BMZ and KfW, and AfD, the French Development Agency; organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dawood Foundation, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and universities such as Harvard, the University of Virginia, the University of California San Francisco, Columbia University, and Brown University.

Despite a worldwide recession, our donors have been selfless in their generosity. Their gifts have enabled AKU to provide its most disadvantaged patients with life-saving care, to offer scholarships to students, build new facilities, purchase vital equipment and PPE, and launch new academic and research programmes.

Of course, our foremost gratitude is to our founder, Chancellor, and chief benefactor, His Highness the Aga Khan. His wisdom continues to guide us, and his vision continues to inspire us, as they have since the University’s inception.

This is my last convocation as President of the Aga Khan University. Over the past 15 years, I have watched our remarkable graduates go on to make impactful contributions to education, science, healthcare, culture, society and governments around the world. I look back with great pride and satisfaction on what the University has achieved through the efforts of the outstanding people who are part of AKU. This team is my greatest legacy. I would like to welcome Sulaiman Shahbuddin as the incoming President who will inherit this great team.

I am extremely grateful to His Highness the Aga Khan for giving me and Saida the opportunity to serve AKU under his guidance and direction. I am grateful to the Chairman and Trustees for their sage counsel and advice. I am grateful to my colleagues at AKU for all the joint learning, discovery and knowledge; and for the compassion, commitment and courage, and for all the wonderful friendships.

Graduands, there are special generations in history. Those that won independence for Asia and Africa. That gave us the world’s first democracies. That laid the foundations of modern science. They are the ones to whom a great task is entrusted, and who respond with unquenchable enthusiasm. 

I believe your generation can be one of these, and that as members of the Aga Khan University Class of 2020, you can lead the way. You can be at the forefront in building the independent intellectual and scientific capacity that will enable Asia and Africa to tackle the biggest challenges facing them and the wider world.

The education you have received has prepared you to compete and collaborate with the world’s best. Throughout your time at AKU, you have awed us with your hunger for knowledge, your pioneering spirit, and your agility in the face of change.

Only one question remains for each of you to answer: What difference will I make?

I know I speak for everyone watching this ceremony around the world when I say that we cannot wait to learn your answers.

Thank you.

 

speech_257041 <p dir="RTL" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="direction:rtl"><span style="unicode-bidi:embed"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span lang="AR-SA" style="font-size:12.0pt"><span style="line-height:150%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">"أيها الخريجون، ثمة أجيال متميّزة في التاريخ، والتي أسهمت بحصول آسيا وإفريقيا على استقلالهما، ما قدّم لنا أولى الديمقراطيات في العالم ووضع أسس العلوم الحديثة. إنهم الأشخاص الذين أُوكلت إليهم مهماتٌ كبيرةٌ، والذين استجابوا لها بحماسٍ لا ينضب. أعتقد أن جيلكم يمكن أن يكون واحداً من هؤلاء، وبصفتكم أعضاء في دُفعة خريجي جامعة الآغا خان لعام 2020، يمكنكم أن تتولوا مهمة القيادة".</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> English
Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-05-07-france-gouvieux-aku-speech-0431-r.jpg Karachi, Pakistan Friday, 21 May 2021 1621674900 Address by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2020s 6926 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9IU9WVp0c 1 https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-05-07-france-gouvieux-aku-speech-0431-r.jpg Aga Khan University Aga Khan University (AKU) Education,Health

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Our Chief Guest, Melinda French Gates
Chairman Haile Debas and the Members of the Board of Trustees
President Firoz Rasul
Provost, Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University
Generous donors and well wishers of the University from around the world
Distinguished guests
Parents, family members and Graduates

It is a great privilege to join you today in recognising and celebrating the Class of 2020.

I do so in circumstances unlike any the world has faced in my lifetime, reminding us all, how vital, how essential, nurses, doctors, researchers, and teachers are to our collective health and well-being.

And so, to our graduates, I begin by thanking as well as congratulating you.  Each of you has chosen a path of service to humanity that is admirable and necessary.

We are honoured on this occasion by the participation of Ms. Melinda French Gates.  Through her leadership, the Gates Foundation has helped improve human health, advance economic development, and empower women and girls across the globe.  The longstanding partnership between the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Gates Foundation has featured collaboration in each of these areas, working together in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and East Africa.

In light of this special relationship, we are particularly pleased to welcome her to this Convocation.  

For decades, both the Aga Khan Development Network and the Gates Foundation have devoted significant effort to improving health and health systems.  Indeed, this university was founded upon the conviction that the quality of healthcare professionals is fundamental to any progress in these domains.  It therefore gives me great pride to see the response of AKU and its hospitals during this pandemic, undertaken with the generous support from the Gates Foundation and others.  I salute the courage of AKU’s health-care staff and administration, who have worked tirelessly through months of crisis, braving these difficult times with fortitude and resolve.

The University has made a critical difference – advising national governments, training public sector medical staff, working with teachers and schools, raising awareness through media and journalism, and doing everything possible to treat patients and to save lives. 

I would also like to recognise the resilience and agility of our University faculty and students.

In these challenging times, all of you have shown impressive adaptability, dedication and perseverance. Thank you.

AKU’s contributions represent another chapter in the long story of great universities that have helped guide the world through the turbulence of history.  The global pandemic response has been built on decades of earnest research, often conducted in relative obscurity, but making possible the development of new tests, tracing strategies, therapies, and vaccines.  While we should regret the unequal distribution of these achievements, we must also appreciate the intellectual triumph that their development represents.

Melinda French Gates and the Gates Foundation have played a crucial and catalytic role.  As you know, AKU researchers have also been part of this progress, identifying and tracking new Covid mutations, assessing vaccines and evaluating therapies.   

AKU aims to be as relevant for the next global health crisis as it has been for this one.  Today, AKU is building its capacity for cutting-edge research applicable to the distinctive health risks for populations in Asia and Africa.  It will seek to harness the enormous potential of advances in artificial intelligence, genomic medicine, and stem cell science to address tomorrow’s challenges, as well as today’s.

Translating this potential requires more than innovation.  It requires professionals capable of complex judgements in balance with the cultures and traditions of these regions.  This is why AKU is evolving into a comprehensive University, active in the humanities and social sciences.

As our thoughts turn to the future, and the bright potential of AKU and its graduates, I must pause to reflect on this moment of significant transition.

Today’s Convocation marks a meaningful juncture in our University’s history.  For only the third time since our founding in 1983, AKU will have a new President.

As you all know, President Rasul has asked to retire, and I have reluctantly agreed, understanding how important it will be for Firoz and Saida to spend the coming years with their children and grand-children in Canada.

Under Firoz’s leadership, our University has known remarkable growth in the past 15 years: new facilities, new campuses, new faculties and impressive new technologies.  The University has also grown as a leading academic and intellectual force.  AKU graduates are reaching the highest levels of qualification and accomplishment.  It is most gratifying to see that some of them are now returning to AKU as faculty and leaders.

These achievements are a source of great happiness for our Trustees and me.  President Rasul’s impressive accomplishments have given us the confidence to broaden our horizons and expand our aspirations of excellence.

With these aspirations in full view, I have appointed Sulaiman Shahabuddin as President of AKU.  Sulaiman, who began his career at AKU 35 years ago, is coming “home,” along with his wife, Zeenat, who is a graduate of the University and holds a PhD in nursing.

I have known Sulaiman for many years. He has been the Regional CEO of the Aga Khan Health Services in East Africa for a decade, and previously CEO of the Aga Khan Hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania.  I have been continually impressed by his commitment, his capacities as a leader, and his continuing dedication to learning.

Please join me in welcoming them both back to AKU.

I spoke earlier of transitions.  You came to this convocation as students.  At the end of today’s ceremonies, you will be graduates of the Aga Khan University, stepping into new roles and new responsibilities.   

I am confident that the Class of 2020 will walk in the footsteps of your fellow alumni, as leaders in the pursuit of excellence, wherever your paths may lead you.  

 As you start that journey, this is a day for all of us to renew our commitment to an ever more hopeful future, one that will be richer in the products of human ingenuity, more just in their distribution, and more abundant in respect and compassion for one another.

I offer you my sincerest congratulations.

Thank you. 

speech_257040 <p>“I am confident that the Class of 2020 will walk in the footsteps of your fellow alumni, as leaders in the pursuit of excellence, wherever your paths may lead you. As you start that journey, this is a day for all of us to renew our commitment to an ever more hopeful future, one that will be richer in the products of human ingenuity, more just in their distribution, and more abundant in respect and compassion for one another.”</p> English
2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-11-24-afghanistan-conference-r.jpg Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday, 24 November 2020 1606212000 Statement by His Highness the Aga Khan at the 2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan speech Afghanistan,Switzerland 2020s 6926 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PqQHh0DfWI 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion,Switzerland https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-11-24-afghanistan-conference-r.jpg Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Trust for Culture Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion

Delivered by Ms. Sheherazade Hirji, AKDN ’s Diplomatic Representative to Afghanistan

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Governments of Afghanistan and Finland and the United Nations for convening the international community at this special moment for Afghanistan and its peoples.

We join today with more hope than ever that peace is on the near horizon. But we are also all aware that this is a delicate moment in Afghan history.  

After almost two decades working together, we must all do everything possible to help seize this opportunity. The Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network reaffirm our deep and enduring commitment to the Afghan peoples, and to a peaceful, pluralist Afghanistan.

One of the lessons AKDN has learned from its work globally is that diversity and pluralism in our thinking are essential. Traditionally, differences have been seen as something that divides. We know they can also be a source of positive strength. As the Chairman of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded in partnership with the Government of Canada, I firmly believe that the support of the Centre can be valuable to all stakeholders, as Afghans discuss how to create a lasting and enduring peace, reflecting all views and perspectives, recognising and respecting Afghanistan’s rich diversity.  I know that the Centre stands ready to support all the parties towards this goal.

As Afghanistan enters a new period of transition, it will need the contributions of all its people, men and women, in every part of the country, to address their common challenges: rising poverty, climate disruption, an unforgiving pandemic. It will need all their talents to build an inclusive future with more opportunities, requiring more education, more knowledge, more private initiative. In these endeavours, AKDN is, and will remain, a steadfast partner. 

Above all, we must ensure that our renewed pledges of support here are translated into tangible gains there, at the community level. Because it is by enabling people to work together purposefully, with visible results, that Afghans of all backgrounds will realise the power of peace to change their lives.

This is why AKDN will maintain the breadth of its work across the country. We will remain deeply engaged with the country’s education sector, where we have supported teachers and students, especially Afghan girls, in hundreds of schools. Our work to strengthen the health system spans our partnerships with Bamyan and Badakhshan, and the French Medical Institute for Children, with every AKDN agency contributing significantly to Afghanistan’s pandemic response. In culture, AKDN has restored some 150 heritage sites – symbols of the strength that came from Afghanistan’s connections to the rest of the world. The transformation of the Bala Hisar Citadel into an archaeological park is one of the latest examples of this work.

All of this must be underpinned by better economic opportunities for all Afghans. In this, AKDN has always insisted on the importance of Afghanistan’s neighbours for the country’s prosperity. AKDN has invested in regional connectivity and cooperation for decades, making gains in clean energy, financial services, infrastructure, and telecommunications, as these all enable livelihoods and underpin job creation. We are pleased to have been entrusted to take on the generation, transmission and delivery of energy through Badakhshon Energy, an innovative public-private partnership for Afghanistan, serving the entire province. We will also continue to help build human capacity throughout Central Asia, linking Afghanistan to its brothers and sisters through education, healthcare, and the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.

During our twenty-five years in Afghanistan, AKDN has been guided by a fundamental belief that the key to the country’s future is in a vibrant, meritocratic, pluralistic civil society – in the Afghan people and in long-term institutions anchoring their contributions to the common good.  As I close today, I reaffirm our commitment to working through them, along with the Afghan government and all our international partners, to strive for an Afghanistan that is peaceful, diverse, and dynamic.   

Thank you.

 

speech_253595 English
2020 Afghanistan Conference https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2-aktc-afghanistan-3.1.1_noh_gunbad_d_02_r.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aktc-afghanistan-babur_8.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/8-aku-afghanistan-fox24399_r.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/akf-afghanistan-education6.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/akf-afghanistan-170806-r.jpg Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday, 24 November 2020 1606124700 Remarks by Michael Kocher, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, at the 2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan speech Afghanistan,Switzerland 2020s 253592 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu8lyieA49E 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion,Switzerland https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2-aktc-afghanistan-3.1.1_noh_gunbad_d_02_r.jpg Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Trust for Culture Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, it is an honour to speak today on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network, or AKDN, as we have invested in Afghanistan’s people and prospects for 25 years. We are committed to continued partnership with Afghanistan’s Government and the priorities it leads with great thought and resilience. 

We are one of the country’s earliest investors, operating both not-for-profit and for-profit institutions, engaging a broad range of partners in the process, but always with a singular goal: Afghanistan's development. We see great added value in unifying regional partnerships with Afghanistan’s neighbours, not only for better physical connectivity but also for strong social bonds that underpin not only economic progress but peace and stability. 

That is why we established Roshan Telecommunications, restored and run the Serena Hotel, founded the First Microfinance Bank of Afghanistan, and also the new public-private partnership – Badakhshon Energy (like Pamir Energy in Tajikistan) – all examples of flagship economic projects that feature innovative partnerships – in addition to AKDN's numerous education, healthcare, livelihoods, civil society and cultural programmes and institutions. 

I make today four points concerning partnership, economic development and aid effectiveness:

First, experience shows aid can and must address physical constraints – roads and bridges, telecommunications, energy and other infrastructure assets – for cities but also for remote and under-served areas. This comprehensive internal connectivity is as necessary as better links to external markets. Here we must not neglect rural Afghanistan, so critical to stability and growth. The partnership approach here is simple yet at times done too rarely – meaningful engagement with communities on what they need – be it a bridge, micro-hydel, access road or irrigation channel – at the village, district, provincial and even the cross-border level.

Second, progress demands broader multi-sector programmes. Partnering often with smallholder farmers, for example, AKDN’s agribusiness investments are further catalysts for economic objectives – so too the planned extension to Afghanistan of AKDN’s regional enterprise initiative, Accelerate Prosperity, supporting micro, small and medium enterprise. 

Further, there are projects that might be defined as “social” or “cultural”, but central to economic progress. Examples include: the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children, where we engage the Ministry of Health and the French Government; our work with a broad range of community groups and local government bodies through the Afghan Citizen’s Charter to underpin civil society; the development of the Bagh-e-Babur and Chihilsitoon gardens, and the Riverfront project in Kabul, where we partner with local artisans, urban planners and businesses toward enhancing quality of life and the local economy. 

The third key ingredient is consistency. Investors make decisions based upon predictability, the reliability of rules and regulations. Afghanistan and its international partners should continue creating clearer, consistent regulatory frameworks, guided by the rule of law and transparency. This applies as well to the governance and management of Afghanistan's many natural resources. Protecting its extraordinary natural environment – and combating climate change – are without question of utmost importance for sustainable, inclusive economic development. Community groups – civil society - must be at the table throughout.

The fourth and final key dimension is of course people, the country’s greatest resource. Major strides have been made in education across the past two decades, especially for women and girls, and this must continue. But the country needs more qualified professionals – teachers and administrators, engineers and accountants, nurses and doctors, entrepreneurs and managers.  

This is why we invest in skills development, executive and vocational training, and education. Greater investment in education – including education technology – at all levels is critical, from early childhood development to university post-graduate. As but one example during the pandemic, the Aga Khan Foundation has partnered with the Afghanistan Ministry of Education and Afghan radio and television stations to support public education in remote areas. We also partner with a range of private foundations in support of education in Afghanistan.

Across these points, smart community-driven aid, linked to local needs, enables the private sector. Given the importance of public-private partnerships, bilateral and multilateral partners must also remember that grants and blended financing encourage investments.

In conclusion, these four building blocks – investments in connectivity and infrastructure, multi-sector development, regulatory consistency and human capital – will spur growth and help the country look forward with confidence, and all the more so when a full range of viable partnerships is viewed strategically and expansively, in-country and regionally.

Linked to all these themes, fully including women – individually and through private associations, cooperatives and collectives – is essential. 

Similarly, enabling a vibrant civil society – alongside embracing purposefully the country’s remarkable pluralism – is key for economic development, aid effectiveness and self-reliance. Afghanistan requires an inclusive approach to civil society to reach its extraordinary potential.

Again, AKDN expresses its sincere thanks and appreciation for the Government of Afghanistan’s clear vision, rightfully bold ambitions, determined leadership and continued partnership. 

Thank you.
 

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