Mahmood Ahmed is the outgoing Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN’s) ambassador to Uganda. He took up the post in March 2006. His Highness the Aga Khan has already appointed an ambassador designate to replace Ahmed. However, Ahmed will, in the meantime, continue serving as AKDN’s ambassador to the East African Community. Prosper magazine’s reporter, Nelson Wesonga, spoke to ambassador Ahmed. The excerpts:
Tell us about Mahmood Ahmed.
I am a Ugandan by birth.
I would have been here most of my life had it not been for that fact that my family moved to the UK [United Kingdom] when I was 8–years–old, in 1963.
After 1963, I would come back once a year, for summer holidays.
How did the Aga Khan get to know about you, to appoint you ambassador?
Initially, I was asked to do various things by senior leaders in the Ismaili community because they thought I could help.
The work I was doing came to the attention of His Highness the Aga Khan and he asked if I would work on things directly for him.
I didn’t expect His Highness the Aga Khan to ask me, in 2005, if I would take up the post of diplomatic representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in Uganda. It was quite a shock; I didn’t believe he was asking me to do this because at the time, I was wondering what I could actually do that would be of any value to the country. But he was insistent and said he needed somebody who was new to the country in the sense that I had not been in the country before in any capacity except in my youth. He wanted somebody who also had an emotional contact. And so I agreed to come back and started this role in 2006.
What are some of AKDN’s successes in Uganda?
Securing land for building the Aga Khan Hospital, I would say, is the biggest success.
Since 2012, we had been trying to find the right parcel of land. Eventually, we were successful in securing the land in Nakawa.
There is a claim you got the land for a song.
Delivery of public goods is usually the work of the government. If we were asked to pay the market price for the land, it would take away resources that we need to develop the land into a hospital. So, our understanding with the government was that it would contribute the land as the government’s effort towards the success of this project and we, the Aga Khan University, which is part of the Aga Khan Development Network, would develop the hospital into a world–class facility.
The other successes have been West Nile Rural Electricification Conmpany Limited, Bujagali Hydro Power Plant, the Kampala Serena Hotel and the establishment of NTV as a leading television station in Uganda. These are on the economic front.
On the social development front, the successes are the establishment of our Strengthening Education Systems in East Africa (SESEA). This is the project through which we have worked with, for example, 800 head teachers of schools around the country and we have worked with them in order to improve their skills as head teachers.
We are also working in the area of early childhood development education of young children aged zero to eight. What we have done is to cultivate community schools. Tthese are schools not owned by us. We help the villagers to train the young parents in the art of early childhood development, so they become teachers effectively. We have got to a point where we have an early childhood development institute accredited by the ministry of Education and through that institute, we have been able to train teachers over a two–year programme and they receive a certificate at the end of that two–year training. They are then accredited as qualified to teach very young children. What happens in zero to eight years is crucial in terms of the future capacity of the child to be a contributor to society.
What were/are the challenges?
The challenges we faced were around human resources, finding the right level of human skills.
The biggest disappointment to me is the closure of Air Uganda. That was an unmitigated calamity, one that, unfortunately, represents a huge lost opportunity. I don’t want to start giving you any form of insight into what went wrong.
All I would say to you is that it went wrong but not because of anything that we did. But we didn’t feel that we could continue with Air Uganda under the circumstances that we faced.
It was felt that haemorrhaging money in Air Uganda was not something that could be justified on those terms. We needed to have much more support all round to make it a success.
You are leaving at a time when President Museveni has been talking about refinancing Bujagali Hydro Power Plant. Has he formally engaged AKDN over Bujagali?
Not that I am aware of. I am in a way sympathetic to what he says. The reality is that the cost of power from Bujagali power is expensive – but it’s not that that is a surprise. The cost of Bujagali was the cost of Bujagali. It was a time when we needed power generation. It was a time when the cost of materials, the cost of money was high. Those costs have come down. If we did Bujagali today, it would be a lot less expensive. If we were to say at that time that ‘Oh no, no this is too expensive, let us find a cheaper way of doing this’, there would have been a compromise on quality and we would be paying the price for that.
Or we would have compromised on the timeframe; we could have delayed Bujagali for, say, two years. Then we would have had to make do with thermal–generated power, which was more expensive than Bujagali.
And it would have been harmful to the environment; we know what thermal does to the environment.
Can we refinance Bujagali? Yes. But I am not sure that the arithmetic has been looked at carefully. I don’t believe refinancing it would automatically result in the reduction on the price instantly because the price at the consumer level is set by a number of components. The cost of generation and the cost of paying back all the loans are there.
What does Aga Khan Development Network do?
The Aga Khan Development Network is involved in uplifting living conditions and improving quality of life. How do we uplift living conditions? In Uganda we operate in two thematic areas. These are economic development and social development. It was the government’s wish that we help the country to develop the economy. That means building capacity, cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit, catalysing economic activity so that it creates jobs. The jobs create wealth; the people who earn the money are able to spend on education, health, on aspects that give them a quality of life.
Social development is about education, health, civil society strengthening and rural development. These aspects are, historically, our core activities.
Civil society is that whole area of activity that is essentially voluntary. There are a whole series of groupings in society that are fundamental to maintaining quality of life.
So the Aga Khan Development Network, in part of its social development activities, supports these types of organisations. In order to strengthen civil society, it is important to have independent media. So we are involved in the whole area of media.
Dar es Salaam — The government has commended the Aga Khan Development Network for its contribution to the economic development of the country.
Deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Susan Kolimba said the network has invested heavily in education, healthcare, culture, infrastructure and tourism.
She said this on Monday evening during the commemoration of the 59th anniversary of the Ascension to the Ismaili Imamat of His Highness the Aga Khan as the 49th hereditary spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili.
"The Aga Khan Network is an important partner in our quest for economic prosperity, particularly now that we have adopted the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development," noted Dr Kolimba.
Giving his key note, a representative of the Aga Khan Network, Mr Amin Kurji, said the long -standing relationship of the network and the Tanzanian government dates back to 1905, when the first girls' school was established in Zanzibar.
As part of its engagements with the other stakeholders in the region, EALA will similarly receive a key report on youth matters at the EAC, a culmination of research undertaken by the East African Institute (EAI), a think-tank under the aegis of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
The AKDN works in over 30 countries around the world. It employs approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities is approximately $625 million. The project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development generated revenues of $ 3.5 billion. All surpluses are reinvested in further development activities).
Uganda: Jubilee Buys U.S.$54 Million Extra Shares in Bujagali Power Plant
By Victor Juma
Regional insurance group Jubilee Holdings is set to raise its stake in Uganda's Bujagali hydroelectric power plant as it prepares to buy shares from one of the project's founder shareholders in a Ksh5.5 billion ($54.4 million) transaction.
Sithe Global Power LLC is selling its interest in the venture, with Jubilee and Norway-based SN Power emerging among the buyers of its shares.
"We are investing an additional Ksh5.5 billion in Uganda's 250-megawatt Bujagali hydro-electric power project which is an additional 8.8 per cent in the equity of the project," Jubilee's chairman Nizar Juma said.
"We are taking more equity from Sithe Global that is exiting," he said, adding that the transaction is expected to be completed in a few weeks.
Jubilee's current stake in the project was not immediately clear. The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm, however, holds a significant interest in the venture in which it is a founder shareholder alongside a consortium of other institutional investors.
2016, November 11: Amb.Liberat Mfumukeko, Secretary General of the East African Community and Ex-Oficio Member of Parliament met H.H. The Aga Khan who agreed to upgrade Dar hospital to 600 beds and extend AKDN Hospitals & Universities to all countries across the region.
The Secretary General of the EAC was in Brussels for a funding meeting at the EU Commission.
Umunyemari Aga Khan agiye kubaka ibitaro bikomeye mu bihugu birimo u Rwanda
Yanditswe kuya 12-11-2016 saa 07:17' na Rabbi Malo Umucunguzi
Umunyemari ufite ibikorwa bitandukanye by’ishoramari muri Afurika y’Iburasirazuba, Aga Khan agiye kubaka ibitaro bikomeye mu Rwanda, mu mushinga w’akayabo ka miliyoni z’amadolari zigiye gushorwa muri Afurika y’Iburasirazuba.
Kuri uyu wa Gatanu tariki 11 Ugushyingo, Umunyamabanga Mukuru w’Umuryango wa Afurika y’Iburasirazuba, Ambasaderi Liberat Mfumukeko, yagiranye ibiganiro na Aga Khan, amugaragariza ko agiye kwagura ibitaro bya Dar Es Salaam bikagira ibitanda 600, akubaka ibitaro na Kaminuza byamwitiriwe muri bihugu bya Afurika y’Iburasirazuba binyuze mu kigo cye, Aga Khan Development Networks (AKDN).
Ambasaderi Liberat Mfumukeko abinyujije kuri Twitter ye yagize ati “Uyu munsi nahuye na Nyiricyubahiro Aga Khan nyiri AKDN ugiye kubaka ibitaro muri Uganda, mu Rwanda no kwagura ibya Dar Es Salaam. Aga Khan yemeye kongera ibitaro bya Dar es Salaam bikagira ibitanda 600 akanagurira ibikorwa by’ibitaro na Kaminuza bya AKDN mu bihugu byose bigize EAC."
Mfumukeko kandi yagaragaje ko uyu munyemari azanubaka Kaminuza za Aga Khan mu bihugu byose bigize Afurika y’Iburasirazuba birimo Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, u Rwanda, u Burundi na Sudani y’Epfo.
Ibitaro bya Aga Khan ni uruhurirane rw’amavuriro akomeye uyu munsi abarizwa i Dar es Salaam, Mumbai, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi na Karachi muri Pakistan.
Aga Khan asanganwe ibikorwa by’ubucuruzi mu Rwanda no mu bindi bihugu bisaga 30, aho ariwe nyir’amahoteli azwi ku izina rya Serena, mu Rwanda hakaba amashami abiri, iry’i Kigali na Rubavu, hakaba n’ikigo Nation Media Group cyari gifite radio KFM.
AKDN ikorera mu bihugu bisaga 30 ku Isi, ikagira n’abakozi 80 000 abenshi bari mu bihugu biri mu nzira y’amajyambere. Iki kigo AKDN buri mwkaa kibarirwa mu ngengo y’imari ya miliyoni zigera muri $625 buri mwaka.
Mwenyemali Aga Khan ataka kujenga hospitali kubwa nchini Rwanda
Kwa niaba ya kupanua vitendo vyake katika Afrika ya Mashariki, mwenyemali Aga Khan anakusudia kujenga hospitali kubwa nchini Rwanda itakayostahili milioni nyingi za dola ya Marekani.
Siku ya ijuma tarehe 11 Novemba Aga Khan akiwa na maongezini katibu mkuu wa jumuia ya Afrika ya Mashariki alisema kwamba ataongeza uwezo kwa hospitali Dar es Salaam na kujenga shule za vituo vikuu hata hospitali nyingi kwa kampuni ya jina lake Aga Khan Development Networks (AKDN).
On behalf of extending its actions in East Africa, mwenyemali Aga Khan intends to build a large hospital in Rwanda itakayostahili many millions of US dollars.
Day ijuma 11 November Aga Khan with maongezini secretary communities of East Africa said that it would add capacity to a hospital in Dar es Salaam and build schools hubs to many hospitals for a company named Aga Khan Development Networks (AKDN).
Aga Khan will also build major centers in all the countries that form the East Africa as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and southern Sudan.
Aga Khan has different actions including the Rwanda hotel here called Serena Kigali and Rubavu and his other actions are available in more than 30 countries.
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