Maputo, Mozambique, 11 August 1998 — His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique today signed a Development Co-operation Agreement which establishes a mission of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Mozambique and lays the framework for AKDN's development activities in the country and thereby the extension of its presence in the East African region.
Earlier in the day, the Aga Khan had a meeting with President Nelson Mandela of South Africa during which the two discussed broad issues relating to regional development priorities as well as the approach that the AKDN was taking towards addressing them.
The Development Co-operation Agreement will facilitate the effective utilisation of the human and financial resources of the Imamat (office of spiritual leadership) and the AKDN in Mozambique. Similar agreements have been signed with countries in Central and South Asia, as well as other countries in Africa, among them Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Chissano explained that the Government hoped to ensure that the AKDN was presented with projects that had sound development potential.
In his remarks the Aga Khan noted that a distinguishing feature of the AKDN was its overriding emphasis on "investing in human capacities." He mentioned themes that the Network had identified in Mozambique: human resource development, the economics of rural populations and the need to access resources and technologies for economic diversification within the private sector.
The Aga Khan, accompanied by the Begum Aga Khan, arrived in Maputo yesterday for an official visit to Mozambique. In addition to meetings with President Chissano, Prime Minister Dr. Pascoal Mocumbi and several of his Cabinet Ministers, the Aga Khan will meet Dr. Graça Machel, wife of President Nelson Mandela and former First Lady of Mozambique with whom the Begum Aga Khan will visit the mission of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Maputo. The Begum Aga Khan, who is a consultant with UNESCO also met with the Minister of Social Welfare, Açucena Duarte.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private development agencies and institutions with specific mandates that range from health and education to rural development, culture, the built environment and the promotion of private sector enterprise. The agencies, working together, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Asia and Africa. The Network's underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their origin, gender or religion.
Before departing Maputo on Thursday, the Aga Khan and the Begum Aga Khan will meet with members of the Ismaili Muslim community which has had a presence in Mozambique since the early years of the present century.
Photos of Aga Khan, Mandela and Chissano available from Reuters, International Desk, London Tel. (44-171) 542 8088
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