Berlin, Germany, 15 May 2009 - His Highness the Aga Khan arrived in Berlin yesterday for a two-day official visit to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.
The meetings focused on the expansion of activities since the signing of an agreement in 2004 between the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to deepen cooperation in regions of mutual interest. The meetings also highlighted the need for attention to the situation in developing countries in Africa and Asia given current global economic and financial challenges.
Since the signing of the Agreement, new collaboration has occurred in five sectors, namely health, education, urban and rural development, microfinance and food security in Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
In Afghanistan, AKDN’s collaboration with Germany has centred on social development , including in infrastructure, education and food security in Badakhshan and cultural projects such as the rehabilitation of Bagh e Babur, a walled and terraced garden containing the tomb of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire.
KfW remains an important partner with both the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) providing financial and technical assistance, covering Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.
The University of Central Asia’s collaboration with the German Government and academic institutions focuses on faculty development, building capacity and increasing the scope of teaching at the University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education. Notable amongst projects in Africa on which the AKDN and Germany are partnering is the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Plant in Uganda, the largest, independent power project in sub-Saharan Africa.
The AKDN and German institutions have also begun to work on a study of immigrant communities in Germany, and on the ways in which social and economic inclusion amongst communities of immigrant origin can be more effective. This initiative draws on the AKDN’s experience in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan amongst other countries as well as in a number of Western countries, amongst them Portugal, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
The Aga Khan was last in Berlin in November 2007 when he delivered a keynote address at a conference entitled, "Central Asia and Europe: A New Economic Partnership for the 21st Century" hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The conference was the first major international gathering to review prospects for partnership in the region.