Aga Khan pledges more support for Zanzibar
By Costantine Sebastian in ZanzibarPosted Friday, July 31 2009 at 17:45
The Aga Khan has assured the people of Zanzibar continued support in development projects, including setting up a micro-finance scheme that will provide loans of more than Sh1 billion.
Speaking during the opening of the refurbished Forodhani Park, the Aga Khan said the initiative would offer about 1,000 loans to different segments of Zanzibaris.
Forodhani Park has been rehabilitated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) at a cost of $3 million.
The facelift involved the restoration of walkways, landscape, infrastructure upgrading, incorporating lighting, and drainage and renovating the seawall facing the park.
He said that the trust was ready to undertake the second phase of the project to give the area a new attractive look.
The Aga Khan was optimistic that the site would attract visitors and more enterprises, and improve lives of the people of Stone Town.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Amani Abeid Karume said that after the successful refurbishment of the park located in the World Heritage Site, his government planned more projects. He also supported an idea by the Aga Khan to establish the Indian Ocean Marine Museum.
The Zanzibar Association of Tourism Inventors chairman, Mr Simai Mohammed, told The Nation that the refurbished Forodhani Park would add value to the tourism products that Zanzibar offers to its visitors.
At the same time, some 57 traders were trained in modern business skills. They were picked from among local businessmen, who used to trade at the old Forodhani.
The chairman of the Forodhani Traders Association, Mr Salum Mohammed, said the training would improve their incomes. The training of the businessmen, which is still going on, started in January.
Forodhani, one of the last open spaces in the Stone Town, a densely populated world heritage site, is regarded as one of the most popular places for outings.
It was once a location for the main port and landing point for the sultans of Zanzibar, but the park has over the years remained a central meeting place for leisure and entertainment. The agreement for the project was signed between President Karume and His Highness the Aga Khan.
Under the agreement, also proposed for an upgrade is an Indian Ocean Maritime Museum that will showcase culture, including displays of naval vessels, artefacts reflecting the historic, commercial and cultural contacts between Africa, Middle East and India.