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The Republic of Mali, The Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN strengthen their partnership with Agreement of Cooperation

Bamako, Mali, 1 August 2005 – His Excellency Moctar Ouane, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Mali and the Director of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs of the Ismaili Imamat, Dr. Shafik Sachedina, today signed an agreement of cooperation between the Republic of Mali, the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

The agreement follows extensive discussions between His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam, (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, President Amadou Toumani Touré of the Republic of Mali and Prime Minister Ousmane Maiga. The agreement, which recognises the AKDN as an International Organisation, will expand cooperation in social, cultural and economic development in the country. It follows an accord for development signed in October 2003 by President Touré and His Highness the Aga Khan.

“I would like to emphasise that economic initiatives are only one part of the AKDN initiatives in Mali,” said the Aga Khan, at the ceremony which marked the signing of the agreement. “We firmly believe that our social and cultural activities are just as important, and intend to have them expand substantially in the future,” he said.

“An immediate initiative will be to establish a not-for-profit microfinance agency, which will operate in the northern part of the country. We believe that microfinance is an important vehicle in the fight against poverty and economic exclusion,” said the Aga Khan. “We hope that our programme will bring stability and improved living conditions to many poor women and men in this country.”

During his visit to Mali, the Aga Khan also reviewed restoration efforts undertaken on Mopti’s Grand Mosque by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The mosque, which was built in the traditional Sudanese style between 1936 and 1943 on the site of an earlier mosque dating from 1908, was at serious risk of collapse until the Aga Khan Trust for Culture commenced restoration work. It is expected to be fully restored by 2006.

“On behalf of the people of Mali and the government, I would like to say we are honoured that the AKDN is contributing to the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage,” said President Touré.

“Mopti’s mosque is an outstanding example of the traditional Muslim architecture of the Sahel,” said the Aga Khan. “We hope that our restoration efforts, which include an important training component, will develop appropriate restoration guidelines and solutions that will be used in other projects in Mali and in the region.”

In the area of social development, the Aga Khan made a grant to the Fondation pour l’Enfance, which will enable administrators to study health management courses in Canada. Other health initiatives are also being pursued.

In addition to its activities in cultural restoration, the AKDN is instituting various social and economic programmes, including improvement of the aviation infrastructure and microfinance initiatives. Mopti’s Medical Complex was a recipient of an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980. AKDN’s West African presence includes operations in Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal.

For further information, please contact:

Férid Nandjee
Aga Khan Development Network (Mali)
BPE 2998
Bamako, Mali
Tel: +223 333 0695 / 222 0863
Fax: +223 222 3466

The Department of Public Affairs
60270 Gouvieux, France
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The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network have for four decades contributed towards an improvement in the quality of life in specific sectors of activity across the West African sub-region. In addition to pioneering investments in industrial enterprises in the packaging, agro processing, infrastructure and aviation sectors, the Network’s agencies have been active in recognising architectural excellence and in providing exemplary support services to both urban and rural populations. The Network’s West African presence includes operations in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.

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. Its agencies and institutions, working in over 30 countries, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East.