On 25 October 2009, His Excellency Professor Gilbert Bukenya, Vice President of Uganda visited the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby. Accompanied by His Excellency George Abola, High Commissioner of Uganda in Ottawa, he sought to reach out to the Canadian Ismaili community – many of whom were born in Africa – with an invitation to invest in the future of Uganda.
Upon their arrival, they were received by Malik Talib, Vice-President of the Ismaili Council for Canada and Samira Alibhai, President of the Ismaili Council for British Columbia, as well as John Halani, Honorary Consul for Uganda in British Columbia. A number of businessmen and professionals had also gathered at the Ismaili Centre to hear Vice President Bukenya's presentation.
During the visit, the Ugandan Vice President discussed his country's socio-economic progress, and presented to the Jamat a range of economic opportunities in the country. Of particular emphasis was Uganda's movement from being an exporter of raw materials to an exporter of finished products, and a supporter of private sector enterprise.
The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby provided a meaningful setting for the event. “This is a place not only of prayer and congregation, but also a place for teaching, learning, intellectual discourse, inquiry, and social gathering,” said Vice-President Talib in his address. Symbolic of the Jamat's permanent presence in Canada, it also testifies to the core values of the Ismaili community, he added.
Vice-President Talib applauded the Ugandan government for the stability and overall sense of renewal that it has created in Uganda. “Today, the Government of Uganda is also making a strong commitment to public education, and Uganda's own history involves centres of learning, like Makerere University,” he said.
He highlighted the importance of ongoing partnership between the Government of Uganda and the Aga Khan Development Network through economic initiatives like the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Project and the Kampala Serena Hotel, as well as the Aga Khan University's health studies and education programmes in Uganda. Vice President Bukenya also has first-hand knowledge of the new Aga Khan Academy being built in Kampala, having joined Mawlana Hazar Imam at the occasion of its foundation stone-laying ceremony in 2007.
“We are confident that these partnerships will grow under the investment-friendly policies of your government and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the Government of Uganda,” concluded Vice-President Talib.