Islamic finance is key to closing sub-Saharan infrastructure gap

The infrastructure gap is nowhere more pronounced than in sub-Saharan Africa. The Boston Consulting Group/Africa Finance Corporation report of May 2017 states that the sub-Saharan Africa infrastructure gap amounts to about $100bn in yearly infrastructure investment. Islamic finance is fundamentally aligned with economic and social development, poverty alleviation and advancement towards the UN sustainable development goals. The asset-based approach of Islamic finance is in line with traditional infrastructure-financing models that involve the procurement or construction of a tangible asset. In the past decade, Islamic finance has been growing steadily in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa was the first African sovereign to issue sukuk, followed by Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria. Most Islamic funding for infrastructure development is flowing through governmental channels. In sub-Saharan Africa large infrastructure investment is still mainly the preserve of the public sector and public-private partnerships are still in their infancy.