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Norway and AKDN strenghten partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

Oslo, Norway, 6 April 2005 - Hilde F. Johnson, Minister of International Development, and His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims today signed an agreement to enhance collaboration on development issues and programmes in Africa, Central and South Asia.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Norway and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) of the Ismaili Imamat, the largest private development network in the world, will explore and strengthen cooperation in the areas of culture, health and education, rural development, capacity building, human resource development and economic recovery.

The Aga Khan thanked the Government of Norway for its continued collaboration with the AKDN. “I am very pleased about the partnership that this agreement furthers - a partnership grounded in common principles of human security, conflict prevention, cultural promotion and community development,” he said. “This agreement builds on a 20-year long relationship and sets in place a framework for future growth.”

Hilde F. Johnson, Minister of International Development, elaborated on the aim of the collaborative agreement, stating, “The Norwegian Government views the Aga Khan Development Network as a “likeminded” development actor. Both believe in democratic governance and empowerment of the poor. We have different strengths and we can play complementary roles. It is through the understanding that local initiatives and central policymaking need to connect, that we can contribute to lasting results.”

In Afghanistan, the agreement between the Government of Norway and the AKDN serves to further reinforce a joint commitment of helping communities in areas experiencing poverty, conflict and crisis. Significant partnerships have already been developed in the country in the areas of education, microfinance and alternative livelihoods. 

Collaboration dates back to the late 1980s, when the Norwegian Government and others partnered with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in the northern areas of Pakistan. According to a World Bank assessment, average household income for over three-quarters of a million people in the region has almost doubled in the last fifteen years as a result of the work of the AKRSP. In addition, the Government of Norway has provided assistance towards heritage preservation and cultural tourism in line with their objective to support development.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the Government of Norway and the AKDN will focus on furthering collaboration in the areas of public-private partnerships, regional cooperation and knowledge sharing. It is also their joint intention to identify new collaboration in Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding recognises that pluralism is essential to successful development as it offers a practical means of managing diversity, fostering social inclusion and mitigating conflict. The agreement confirms that positive change for communities can only be achieved through long term commitments supported by a strong enabling environment.

This press release has been jointly issued by the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

For further information, please contact: 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Wera Helstrom
Information Advisor
Tel: +47 22 24 39 44
Mobile: + 47 994 09 32

Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
60270 Gouvieux, France
Tel: +
Fax: +


The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the Government of Norway have been working together in South Asia since the early 1980s in the areas of natural resource management, microfinance, education, alternative livelihoods and cultural development.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies whose mandates range from the fields of health and education to architecture, culture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise in Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. Its agencies and institutions seek to help communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities.