Monday, August 8, 2005
By A CORRESPONDENT
Moctar Ouane, Mali's Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and Dr Shafik Sachedina, director of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs of the Ismaili Imamat, recently signed an agreement of co-operation between the Republic of Mali, the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
The agreement follows extensive discussions between the Aga Khan, Mali's President Amadou Toumani Tour of the Republic of Mali and Prime Minister Ousmane Maiga. The agreement, which recognises the AKDN as an international organisation, will expand co-operation in social, cultural and economic development in the country. It follows an accord for development signed in October 2003 by President Tour and 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.
Meanwhile, President Blaise Campaor of Burkina Faso and the Aga Khan, who is also chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, have launched the first microfinance agency, Premiere Agence de Microfinance (PAMF) in Ouagadougou. In coming weeks, PAMF will commence operations in the Banfora region in association with SN Sosuco, one of the country’s largest employers.
"Microfinance can be a formidable tool for poverty alleviation," said the Aga Khan. "It can be adapted to needs and circumstances in a variety of contexts. Our experience over the past two decades suggests that trusting in good character, good ideas and a willingness to work hard is a sound investment."
Representatives will serve communities through a network that is expected to grow to over 150 microfinance agents by 2007. Loans are intended for income-generating activities to improve agricultural productivity, as well as for acquiring livestock and for small enterprises in rural areas.