THE recent visit by His Highness the Aga Khan has opened up Tanzania to greater investments in the economic and social development of the country.
The current Aga Khan, who has been a friend of Tanzania since before independence is a keen follower and partner in the socio-economic development of mostly underdeveloped or developing nations, especially in Africa and Asia. Shah Karim's love for Tanzania has amply been proved by his frequent visits to the country having also attended the Independence celebrations of Tanganyika in 1961.
The AKDN agencies presently active in the country span from social sectors such as health and education, to economic and cultural such as banking, tourism, telecom, insurance, infrastructure, cultural and historic cities Programmes in Zanzibar to name a few.
"You have been a dependable partner of Tanzania's and Tanzanians' development. You have made invaluable contribution and extended invaluable support to our development endeavours," so remarked President Kikwete at the dinner hosted in honour of His Highness the Aga Khan at the State House on August 18, 2007.
During his most recent visit to Tanzania in the first week of this month, the Aga Khan presided over a series of meetings including the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University (AKU) both in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. At the meetings, Trustees from five continents made key decisions to expand the university's presence as a multi-disciplinary university of international standing in the East African region.
AKU's guiding vision is to educate a cadre of leaders who have a deep understanding of the issues and problems important to the region and the skills to creatively and effectively address such problems.
According to a press statement issued by the Aga Khan the university's mission is to educate exceptional individuals from across East Africa who have the potential to transform society. Admission to the university will be based on talent and financial aid will be provided based on need.
AKU has a historic commitment to enabling access and to developing student potential. To build on its well-established international reputation for providing world-class education as well as health services in its teaching hospitals, the university's board reviewed plans for adding new faculties, schools and programmes to transform AKU into a comprehensive university in East Africa.
The AKU's ambitious plans in East Africa include adding a Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a Faculty of Health Sciences, a permanent facility for its Institute for Educational Development and eight graduate professional schools, with the initial focus on Media and Communications, Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism and Leadership and Management.
The total investment over 15 years is estimated at 1.2 billion US dollars of which approximately 1 billion USD will be spent in Tanzania. Prince Zahra Aga Khan, Head of the Social Welfare Department of the AKDN and a Trustee of the University, also participated in the meetings.
During the visit, the Chancellor (the Aga Khan) and the Princess met with the leadership and board of the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam to review expansion plans for a regional Heart and Cancer Centre.
This major expansion of the hospital in Dar es Salaam is part of the growing AKDN integrated health system, which includes existing hospitals in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi and new hospitals planned for Arusha, Mwanza and Kampala.
In Dar es Salaam, the capital investment will exceed 165 million USD for the hospital, a residential school, the Aga Khan and the Institute for Educational Development, providing graduate education for teachers.
During the meetings with the spiritual leader, the AKU Trustees also reviewed plans for the university's expansion in East Africa with a focus on Tanzania.
Beginning in Dar es Salaam, they visited the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development and met with faculty staff and students of the three academic programmes, medical Masters' Degree in Family Medicine and Masters of Education.
The Aga Khan and the Trustees also visited the site on Sam Nujoma Road to review the master plan and design for a new 42-acre campus, which will house both the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, serving Masters' Level students and Aga Khan Academy for middle and secondary school students.
Residential accommodation for faculty, staff and students is part of the planned development. The spiritual leader, as Chairman, and members of the Board of Trustees concluded their deliberations with a day-long session in Arusha at the proposed site for the university's principal campus in East Africa.
They resolved to conduct a detailed review of the academic programmes and opening budgets, land use plan, launch approach, capital investments and preliminary architectural ideas. At the launching, the campus will host undergraduate and research programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a specialized programme in hospitality, tourism and leisure.
The campus will include a university village comprising a school, a hospital, hotel, housing, retail shopping and a recreation and entertainment facilities. While in Dar es Salaam, the Trustees met with various government officials from the ministries of Education and Vocational Training, Finance, Health and Social Welfare, Science and Technology and Communications.
In Arusha, they met with the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) and several district commissioners.
All the officials expressed appreciation for the numerous AKDN contributions in Tanzania and strongly recommended the acceleration of the planned new developments. On their part, the Trustees acknowledged the need to move faster, calling on the government of Tanzania to ensure "timely provision of the necessary enabling conditions for these substantial investments".