The Africa-America Institute (AAI) held its 23rd Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, September, 19th at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park Hotel in New York. Under the theme Tanzania: Educating for a Sustainable Future, the Gala paid tribute to the People of Tanzania for the East African nation’s significant progress in education, environmental conservation, and in creating a business-friendly environment for entrepreneurs and investment. H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, accepted the AAI African National Achievement Award on behalf of the People of Tanzania.
“We commend Tanzania for its extraordinary commitment to build human capacity, particularly by strengthening its educational system at all levels,” said Mora McLean, President & CEO of AAI. “We celebrate their achievements and progress.”
The sold-out black-tie Gala was chaired by American financier and conservationist Paul Tudor Jones II and Reginald Mengi, CEO of Tanzania’s media conglomerate IPP Limited. The AAI Gala raised nearly $900,000, the highest amount raised in the organization’s history, to support AAI’s efforts to help build human capacity in Africa through education and training programs, and to develop programming and forums aimed at educating Americans about Africa. Nearly 500 distinguished U.S. and African leaders and top diplomats attended the Annual Awards Gala to celebrate African achievement, including Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rachel Robinson, widow of baseball great Jackie Robinson.
The Gala also honored leading Americans and Africans for their contributions to Africa and the world. Other awards included: the AAI Award for International Development and Diplomacy presented to Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General; the AAI Distinguished Trustee Award presented to Peggy Dulany, Founder and Chair of The Synergos Institute; and the AAI Distinguished Alumnus Award presented to Gidion Kaino Mandesi, Executive Director of the Disabled Organization for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development (DOLASED) in Tanzania.
During his remarks Mr. Tudor Jones, who is also founder of The Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund in Tanzania, announced the creation of The Kikwete Scholarships, a ten-year commitment by the Grumeti Fund to support tertiary level training for Tanzanian students to pursue studies in the field of environmental conservation at U.S. universities. The scholarships, which recognize President Kikwete’s leadership and commitment to conservation and environmental causes, will support the studies of 20 students over the next ten years.
In his remarks, President Kikwete personally thanked Mr. Tudor Jones for the scholarships, saying it would help further study on environmental conservation in Tanzania.
Tanzania has achieved nearly universal primary education, setting it on target to meeting one of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The country’s education system has grown from just one university in 1961 to some 200 tertiary training institutions at the end of 2006. A new four-year institution, Dodoma University, will soon open, enrolling 1000 students.
Since independence in 1961, the country’s has maintained its pledge to safeguard its abundant wildlife and natural environment. Today, more than 25 percent of Tanzania’s total land area is under conservation, higher than the world average and exceeding United Nations goals.
In the area of business and investment, Tanzania was recently cited by The World Bank as one of Africa’s top two reformers. During the Gala Reginald Mengi, Tanzanian businessman and media mogul, recognized Tanzania’s recent business success and challenged the Western media to show the thriving side of Africa to encourage business and foreign investment.