July 30, 2005
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Aga Khan begins visit to Burkina Faso

The spiritual leader of Ismailia Muslims, Aga Khan, arrived here Friday afternoon to begin a two-day visit of Burkina Faso.

The Aga Khan, who heads the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) will on Saturday co-launch with President Blaise Compaori the first Micro-finance Agency.

The objective of the network`s new initiative is to fight poverty by making the mainstream banking sector to offer financial services to impoverished persons and the down-trodden.

According to a document release together with the Aga Khan`s programme, the AKDN has already established micro-finance structures in about 15 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The United Nations has proclaimed 2005 as the international year of micro-finance.

The spiritual leader of Ismailis is also scheduled to hold talks with his host and Prime Minister Paramanga Ernest Yonli.

The Aga Khan is also due to hold working sessions with several cabinet ministers, especially those of agriculture and water and fisheries resources, Salif Diallo, as well as Benont Ouattara of trade and crafts, Jean Baptiste Paul Marie Compaori of finance and budget and Hyppolite Lingani of infrastructure, transport and urban development.

He will fly to the country`s west to inspect the Comoe National Sugar Factory at Banfora, 430 km from here and the Fasoplast factory in Bobo-Dioulasso, 365km away that manufactures plastic products.

The Aga Khan group holds majority shares in these two industries.

The group, which also owns several national companies in Mali and Cote d`Ivoire, has for several years headed the national airline, Air Burkina.

The Aga Khan is expected to leave Ouagadougou for Bamako, Mali on Friday afternoon.