PROSPER: We couldn’t continue with Air Uganda, says Mahmood — Monitor Uganda
Passengers board an Air Uganda aeroplane before it closed. FILE PHOTO
By Nelson Wesonga
Posted Tuesday, June 14 2016 at 01:00
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:
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 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.
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.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.
Read more on: Monitor Co Uganda
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Govt hails Aga Khan on childhood training model — Monitor Co Uganda|The Madrasa early childhood training model is the best in UgandaMs Hafiswa Namuyanja Kiwanuka (L) receives a certificate from his Ambassador Mahmood Ahmed who represented the Aga Khan Development Network at Madrasa Early Childhood Development Institute in Kampala last Friday. PHOTO By MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI
The Speaker of the East African Assembly Dan Fred Kidega has praised the Aga Khan Development Network for their contribution to critical development sectors in the East African region.
The Speaker of the East African Assembly Dan Fred Kidega has praised the Aga Khan Development Network for their contribution to critical development sectors in the East African region. At the event, Mahmood Ahmed, the Diplomatic Representative of the Network paid tribue to the Aga Khan for his contribution to human life in 30 countries in the developing world, particularly in Africa and Asia. Mahmood also thanked Uganda for its ethnic pluralism and tolerance. Kidega was speaking at a reception hosted to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the ascension of His Highness the Aga Khan as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims in Kampala Wednesday evening.
Source: NTV co Uganda