His Highness the Aga Khan: “The question is, not only what have I achieved, the question is what have I helped others to achieve? That is the notion of social conscience in Islam.”

“The new notions of free enterprise, of creating wealth, these are sound notions but they should be followed within the ethic of our faith…The question is, not only what have I achieved, the question is what have I helped others to achieve? That is the notion of social conscience in Islam.”
His Highness the Aga Khan
Press Conference, Maputo, Mozambique, August 1998 1

Aga Khan IV
His HIghness the Aga Khan and President Joaqui, Chissano of Mozambique sign a Development Agreement, August 1998. Photo: The Ismaili, December 1998

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded and is guided by His Highness the Aga Khan to improve the quality of life and prospects of people in Asia and Africa.

His Highness said:
“In all interpretations of Islam, Imams, whether they are Shia or Sunni, are required not only to lead in the interpretation of the faith, but equally to contribute to improving the quality of life of the people who refer to them….It is on this ethical premise, which bridges faith and society, that I established the Aga Khan Development Network.”
at the Nobel Institute on Democratic Development, Pluralism and Civil Society, Oslo, Norway
April 7, 2005

His Highness the Aga Khan fulfils part of his hereditary responsibilities as Imam of the Ismaili Muslims through the AKDN, which is, therefore, a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to enact the ethics of Islam which include the pursuit of knowledge, respect for life through care for the sick, care for the poor and marginalised enabling them to become self-reliant with dignity, environmental stewardship, pluralism, and inclusiveness.2

The Muslim ethic discourages a culture of dependency since it undermines one’s dignity, preservation of which is emphasised in the Quran. Since the time of the Prophet, the aim of charitable efforts has been to help the marginalised to become self-reliant.2 The initiatives of the agencies of the AKDN aim to make the poor and marginalised to become self-reliant. The Network  currently operates in over 30 countries.

AKDN provides employment opportunities for thousands in West Africa.
In the early 1960s, a group of companies was set up under the corporate name Industrial Promotion Services (IPS). Each company was created to provide venture capital, technical assistance and management support to encourage and expand private enterprise in countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Expansion into areas such as agribusiness, packaging and infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa were accompanied by the need for new investments in the emerging economies of Central Asia in the 1990s and 2000s, in particular, in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Today, IPS companies, now part of Aga Khan Development Network, play a vital role in local and regional economies.

In the 1960s, Cote d’Ivoire, in West Africa, was focusing on cocoa as the crop that would drive its development, but it lacked a packaging capability. AKDN agencies had already invested in the jute industry in Bangladesh, established by Imam Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III in 1955, which eventually became one of the largest employers and biggest exporters in the country.

Rather than importing large quantities of these sacks from Bangladesh, IPS decided to manufacture jute sacks in Côte d’Ivoire. This first packaging factory, called Filtisac, became the economic engine driving IPS in West Africa in 1965.

Ivoire Coton
Ivoire Coton, an AKFED project. Photo: AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura

Ivoire Coton provides work for around 50,000 producers in northern Côte d’Ivoire. Together the various factories and companies within IPS in West Africa directly employ nearly 4,500 people who enjoy social welfare support and educational funding for their children. Every job created impacts a family – which means that some 600,000 people are feeling the benefit of IPS (WA)’s expansion in West Africa.

Factories often suffered from inadequate available energy, causing delays in getting products to consumers. To address this issue, IPS became involved in the development of the Azito power station near Abidjan in 1997. In 2015, Azito inaugurated its third turbine, powered exclusively by waste from the two other turbines, thereby ensuring long-term sustainability, a key objective of AKDN.  Azito now provides over 30 percent of Côte d’Ivoire’s electricity generation capacity.

Azito power facility
The Azito power facility, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo:

New Power Platform to boost electricity generation in Africa
In April 2017, AKFED, IPS, and CDC Group plc, the UK’s development finance institution, launched a joint power platform to boost power generation in sub-Saharan Africa, accelerating economic growth and impacting millions of people in the region.

The joint platform will house existing power projects of IPS in Kenya and Uganda, and will focus on new power projects in greater East Africa (including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, and Madagascar) and West Africa.
AKDN Press Release

In 2008, during his Golden Jubilee visit to West Africa, His Highness the Aga Khan launched the Première Agence de Microfinance (PAMF) in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, joining  two sister microfinance institutions, in Mali and Burkina Faso, which were launched in 2006. Small loans offered by PAMF are primarily intended for income-generating activities, designed to improve agricultural productivity, acquire livestock, and establish small enterprises in rural and urban areas.

Extracted from Côte d’Ivoire, Economic Development, Aga Khan Development Network

IPS In Senegal
IPS established Cofisac and Fumoa in Dakar. Originally producing synthetic fibre sacks, today, these factories have a high-performance blow moulding line which makes 1 to 20-litre high-density polyethylene bottles. The polyethylene terephthalate preforms are also blown into bottles for still and carbonated beverages.

AKFED in Burkino Faso
AKFED in Mali

In Mali, employment opportunities are also created through the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s rehabilitation initiatives as well as the creation of a park in Bamako. Since 2003,  cultural restoration and social development projects have taken place in Bamako, Mopti, Timbuktu, and Djenné. Since 2008, the Aga Khan Foundation has been implementing interventions in health, education, rural development, and civil society strengthening to improve the quality of life for the residents of Mopti, one of the poorest regions in the country.
AKDN in Mali  

In Eastern Africa, AKDN works in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

“For about 40 years, he has worked in Africa and he has worked for Africans. His Network has invested much in Africa – not to extract profits but to assure development. This his Network…seeks only to re-invest, an approach proven in East Africa and in other regions.
President Blaise Compaore, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, March 19981

1Published in The Ismaili, Realising the Social Conscience of Islam, December 1998
Aga Khan Development Network: An Ethical Framework Prepared by The Institute of Ismaili Studies  (accessed June 2017)
 Côte d’Ivoire, Economic Development, Aga Khan Development Network (accessed June 2017)

Compiled by Nimira Dewji


Previously on Ismailimail…

One thought

  1. The Aga Khan will build all around the world for the betterment of all, but it is the leaders of that country who have to continue what he has built and build more on it and continue it which is very important.


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