Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
The Honourable Janet Museveni, First Lady of Uganda and Minister of Education and Sports;
Princess Zahra Aga Khan;
Honourable Members of Government;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Chairman Zakir Mahmood and Members of the AKU Board of Trustees;
Colleagues, friends and guests:
Hamjambo, As salamo alaikum, Good afternoon, and welcome everyone to this very very special day!
Nothing is more exciting than seeing a vision become a reality. Today, the Aga Khan University is taking a massive step toward its goal of positively contributing to the development of Uganda through its transformative healthcare and education programmes. A new chapter in the University’s history is being written. It is a proud day, an emotional day, for all of us.
It is an even prouder day because of the presence of two eminent leaders who are celebrating it alongside us. The attendance of the First Lady speaks to the national importance of AKU’s Kampala campus, and to the hopes it has occasioned. Honourable First Lady, your being here today inspires us to press forward with every ounce of our energy and determination to deliver on our ambitions.
The participation of Princess Zahra Aga Khan testifies to the fact that there is no higher priority for the Aga Khan University than the completion of its Kampala campus. Princess Zahra, thank you for elevating this occasion with your presence.
AKU’s goal, working together with the Aga Khan Development Network, including the Aga Khan Health Services and many of our diverse agencies that focus on social and economic activities, is to build a network of institutions in East Africa that improves people’s quality of life by developing leaders, generating and sharing knowledge across borders, and by connecting people to outstanding care. It has always been our aim to have a presence and an impact in Uganda commensurate with the country’s importance. We have therefore been working toward and planning for and dreaming of this day for a long time – a very long time. And while we have experienced some delays along our journey, ladies and gentlemen, we are finally here!
I am thrilled to announce that construction, as you may have noticed, has commenced on AKU’s University Centre and Student Residences. Work has also begun on a new outpatient medical centre that will soon begin offering a wide range of services. Early next year, we will start building the first phase of the new Aga Khan University Hospital Kampala, which will grow in size and scope over time. Our academic facilities will welcome their first students in early 2025, and the hospital will welcome its first patients soon thereafter.
In short, we can now envision the day when our Kampala campus will be buzzing with intellect, energy and optimism. We can’t wait to open our doors and show you the new face of AKU in Uganda. Uganda can proudly claim to have high-quality institutions such as Makarere University and we look forward to working with them and others, and jointly contributing to the progress of this country and the region.
It has been a long but a very productive journey that has brought us to this point. I am grateful to everyone who has taken this journey with us. We have a lot of individuals and institutions to thank.
First and foremost, I express on behalf of everyone at the Aga Khan University our deepest gratitude to His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, who has championed this project from its inception. We are extremely grateful to His Excellency for his unflagging support, including his direct engagement to resolve issues, allowing us to reach this momentous day. His Excellency’s vision for the prosperity of Uganda has provided stability to Uganda and driven the development of the country and its citizens. His vision has provided opportunities to institutions that are pushing forward the economic and social upliftment of this country. Today, we stand here on the foundation of AKU’s Kampala campus because of His Excellency’s vision for Uganda.
We are also indebted to the Government of Uganda; our incredibly generous and loyal donors; and many many others. While we will have more to say about the invaluable contributions of our partners and supporters, I would like to acknowledge the German Government, through BMZ, KfW and other arms of the German Government for their extensive interest and support to a number of projects of the Aga Khan Development Network, including the support to our universities and hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania as well as in Central Asia.
This year, as you can see in the banners throughout this site today, we mark the 40th anniversary of AKU’s establishment internationally. And we are so proud to be able to mark the commencement of the Kampala campus during this anniversary year.
The vision of our founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, urges us to combine loyalty to international standards with service to those in need. To deliver an education that equips talented young men and women to use knowledge to identify and solve problems. To open the doors of opportunity to people of every race, creed, and class. To forge partnerships across borders and boundaries, and to demonstrate the power of Africa and Asia to contribute to the global quest for knowledge.
And, of course, it includes an unshakeable commitment to enabling the people of the developing world to access health care and education that meet the highest standards. As His Highness told the audience at the land grant ceremony for this project in 2015: “Higher education and science are two of the most important factors in development. And Africa requires having institutions that will assist in the development of those resources. It isn’t only sufficient to create the resources but we have to be able to measure them against global standards, so that the institutions of Africa – whether they be in health care or in other areas – come up to global standards and indeed will, I hope, meet global standards in time.”
It is His Highness’s and President Museveni’s shared vision, and the support it has inspired, that brings us together today. It’s a vision that unites people and makes great things possible. It’s a vision that has room for everyone. So, I would like to thank both of these eminent world leaders for making it possible for each of us to make a difference in the lives of so many people, through this and many other projects here in Uganda and East Africa.
The journey, however, that will ultimately culminate in the inauguration of our Kampala campus is not over yet. We have a lot of earth to move. We have a lot of building to do. We have a lot of students to admit. But it won’t be long before we invite you back to this site to see – not what AKU has built – but what all of us have built together.
I can assure you that it will be worth the wait.
Thank you very much.