Djibouti plans to work on a framework to allow the use of sukuk to fund infrastructure projects. Djibouti is a relative newcomer to Islamic finance, having introduced sector-specific legislation in 2011. Central bank governor Ahmed Osman said the government has established a national sharia board to help oversee the sector, appointing five members to the independent body. The government is in discussions with the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank to help establish a framework to issue sukuk for either the government or state-owned enterprises. The central bank is also in discussions with two lenders seeking to open Islamic windows. Currently three of Djibouti's 10 banks are Islamic: Saba Islamic Bank, Salaam African Bank and East Africa Bank.
Africa’s development needs are greatly aligned with Islamic finance given the continent’s infrastructure deficit, paving the way for more sharia-compliant products on the continent. According to Imran Mufti, partner at Riyadh-based law firm Hogan Lovells, being attached to tangible infrastructure and development projects is in line with the ethos of Islamic finance. Mufti’s statement comes following three sukuk issuances in West Africa on the 18th October from Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo. Each sharia-compliant bond was listed on the regional bourse, the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM). Mufti said the latest sukuk issues’ success and tight yields show that investors are comfortable with sukuk from Africa.
In #Nigeria the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) will soon approve dedicated companies that will sell takaful and micro insurance products. The Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, said that the products would ensure that everybody is carried along and actively participates in the financial sector in the country. He explained that since the release of the regulations of micro insurance and takaful, companies had opted to use the window opportunities for the products. The commissioner said that various proposals have been submitted regarding the approach to adopt and NAICOM would consider them and select the best that suits the Nigerian market.
Shareholders of Jaiz Bank unanimously voted for its shares to be listed and traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The bank disclosed that this development will now open windows of opportunities for numerous individuals who desire to own shares in Jaiz Bank. Chairman of the Bank, Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, said the Bank’s authorized Share Capital has been sub-divided from 15, 000, 000, 000 Ordinary Shares of N1.00 each to N30, 000, 000, 000 Ordinary Shares of 50k each. Also speaking at the event, CEO Hassan Usman said once listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, existing shareholders can trade their shares while new investors can also invest by buying the shares.
#Nigerian experts on Islamic finance met in Sokoto to discuss economic solutions, expressing the opinion that Islamic financing principles are the only alternative to end the current recession. The conference was organized by the Department of Management Science of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and ran under the theme "Management of Nigerian economy: Issues and Perspective in Islam". Lead presenter Dr. Ahmadu Bello Dogarawa said applying Islamic principles in corporate governance would go a long way in addressing Nigeria’s challenges. In his keynote address, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said Islamic finance was no more peripheral to conventional finances as it was being operated in 75 countries, including western nations.
According to law firm Hogan Lovells, the launch of Sukuk bonds by three West African governments will open up a vast financing channel for the region. Hogan Lovells advised the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) as lead arranger on the issuance of three sovereign Sukuks in West Africa. These include Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and the Republic of Togo. The Sukuks were listed on the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Altogether with the debut issuances for Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, the combined listing value was CFA 766 billion. Imran Mufti, who led the Hogan Lovells’ team, said the landmark Sukuk bonds will enhance the development of Islamic finance in West Africa.
Some new Islamic Insurance Companies will soon commence operations in Nigeria, thus becoming the first set of fully-fledged Takaful Insurance companies in in the country. Five investors had submitted applications to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), but only three of them were given approval. The remaining two applications are still receiving attention from the insurance industry regulatory body. One of the three licensed Takaful insurers, Noor Takaful Insurance Company, is expected to officially start operations in November in Lagos. The two others can commence operation latest by next year.
Despite the efforts of the #Kenyan regulators, some toxic products have been allowed into the market under the banner of Islamic finance. The lack of clarity among regulators has allowed unscrupulous managers to mask certain offerings as Islamic, which has tainted the sub-sector’s reputation in recent months. Chase Bank was placed under receivership in April after special purpose investment vehicles it had classified as Islamic products were contested. Juma Makomba, the Sharia compliance manager at Takaful Insurance of Africa, said Chase Bank was not brought down by Islamic banking products because the facility would have qualified as a Qard-Hassan. He added that Qard-Hassan is given to somebody who is in distress, but the product they were calling a Qard-Hassan was in fact Musharakah.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Afriland First Bank have signed an agreement in which both parties will cooperate to establish an Islamic Window in Ivory Coast. The cooperation reflects ICD's ambition to promote Islamic Finance in its member countries and support its growing presence and activities in Africa. The agreement was signed by Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, CEO and Managing Director of ICD and Olivier Dadjeu Kengne, CEO and Managing Director of Afriland First Bank Ivory Coast. Both directors expressed their strong support for the partnership. The partnership with ICD aims to diversify Afriland First Bank's activities and meet the needs its customers, particularly the needs of a large Muslim community, which is actively involved in trades.
Kenya launched an office dedicated to oversee its Islamic finance industry and help prepare for the issue a debut sovereign shariah-compliant bond. With 11% of Muslim population, Kenya has seen the emergence of Islamic institutions in recent years, including two banks, five Islamic banking windows offered by commercial lenders, insurance firms and a unit trust fund. The government wants to build up the industry as part of a long-term plan to turn Nairobi into an International Financial Centre. Kenya, which has applied to become a member of the Islamic Financial Services board, is carrying out legal and policy reforms to facilitate the growth of the industry. According to Kamau Thugge, the principal secretary at the Treasury, the government will consider issuing a sovereign Sukuk as soon as the legal and policy reforms are implemented.
A recent UNICEF survey indicates that Somalia is off-track in achieving Millenium Development Goals for Water, Hygiene and Sanitation, a challenge facing Somaliland as well. To off-set the developmental challenges, Somaliland ought to implement sound financial systems. International Development Agencies note that if Somaliland is to have full confidence in Islamic Banking, then it needs to standardise, deregulate and diversify the economy. That would attract more investment from multi-lateral agencies, such as the World Bank, Islamic and African Development Banks (AfDB) and the United Nations. New technologies, such as mobile banking, can enhance the hard to reach areas and further attract potential customers. DBI and Dara Salaam banks are both investing in the latest technology for improving the economy.
Nigeria's central bank has set commercial banks' investment in Islamic bonds issued by state governments to 10% of the total amount on offer and fixed a maximum tenor of 10 years for the bonds. The central bank said it considered the need to issue the guidelines to enhance the quality of sukuk instruments and to grant liquidity status at its discount window as well as for banks' liquidity ratio. Nigeria is working out details for issuing a debut sovereign sukuk and also planning to sell Eurobond to raise $1 billion this year. The regulator assigned a weight of 20% for capital adequacy for banks' investment in sukuk and a weight of 50% for Islamic bonds that do not qualify as liquid assets.
According to The World Bank, less than 20% of Muslims use conventional banking worldwide, in spite of the ever growing number of Islamic financial products. The bank's Vice President and Treasurer, Arunma Oteh, said this in Washington during the World Bank High Level Seminar on Islamic Finance. Ms. Oteh said that the huge financial gap that exist in the Muslim world could not be bridged and the lack of trust of financial service providers was a reason for the disparity. She added that Islamic finance was a tool for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with Islamic investors applying the ethical and quantitative measures in their investment decisions.
Traditionally, investments from the Arabian Gulf into Africa have focused on North Africa, but this scenario is slowly changing. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, FDI inflows from the Gulf to sub-Saharan Africa topped US$9.3 billion between 2005 and 2015, with Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria attracting the largest number of Gulf investors. Especially the sectors with high return margins are capturing the attention of investors. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the top investors on the continent when it comes to agriculture. The UAE’s Al Dahra Agriculture is investing in wheat farming in Egypt, while Saudi companies have invested heavily in Sudan’s agricultural sector.
Senegal raised FCFA200bn (around $341m) from a sukuk that raised FCFA50bn more than originally planned. Sukuk Etat du Senegal offers 6% a year profit margin, paid half yearly with a two-year grace period. The asset is backed by shares in the Léopold Sedar Senghor international airport. Senegal was the first country in the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s (WAEMU) to issue sukuk, with a debt deal worth FCFA100bn back in June 2014. Ivory Coast aims to raise FCFA150bn as part of a two tranche FCFA300bn sukuk program set up last year. The transaction is expected to deliver a yield of 6.5% and have a tenor of seven years. Meantime, Togo also aims to raise FCFA150bn through a 10-year sukuk offering a 6.5% yield.
#Senegal has upsized its second sale of sovereign sukuk, with #Ivory Coast and #Togo expected to close their own deals in coming days. Senegal issued a debut sukuk in 2014 and returned to the market in July with a 10-year deal paying a 6% profit rate backed by assets from Dakar's international airport. Senegal's sukuk raised a total of 200 billion CFA francs ($341.5 million) from an initial plan for 150 billion CFA francs. Ivory Coast is completing a sale of 150 billion CFA franc worth of 7-year sukuk, while Togo aims to raise 150 billion CFA francs from its debut sukuk, which has a 10-year maturity and 6.5% yield. Niger has also signed up for a sukuk programme to raise 150 billion CFA francs in two phases, although a timing has yet to be determined.
More than 2,000 groups of women will acquire interest-free loans worth Shs43 billion from the government under the Uganda Women's Entrepreneurship programme (UWEP). According to Mr Puis Bigirimana, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Gender, women entrepreneurs are constrained by limited access to finance as they attempt to grow their businesses. UWEP will promote women's economic empowerment through entrepreneurship skills. Under the programme, groups will receive up to Shs12.5 million each while special projects that benefit a bigger community will receive Shs25 million. UWEP National programme coordinator Ms Brenda Kifuko said all beneficiaries will have to pay back to enable more women access credit. Groups that pay in the first year of reception will only pay the principle amount while groups that pay after the first year will be subject to a 5% interest rate in form of a service fee to cater for inflation.
In #Kenya the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) is set to introduce Shariah compliant products. The proposal to make the students loan provider Shariah compliant is currently being reviewed by the Attorney-General, prof Githu Muigai. Once approved, the law will improve access for Muslim students to educational financial support helping them to obtain loans which do not infringe on their religious beliefs. The number of Muslim students at universities has been on a gradual rise and the move will be of great benefit. HELB Chief Executive Charles Ringera said the board was with Islamic finance experts in the implementation of the policy.
Le Maroc a choisi la Société islamique pour le développement du secteur privé – SID (Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector – ICD) comme arrangeur pour l’émission de ses premiers Sukuk. ICD conseille et accompagne les pays membres pour développer leur marché de capitaux islamiques, à travers l’émission de Sukuk à court, moyen et long terme, permettant aux Etats de diversifier leurs sources de financement. Les premières émissions de Sukuk au Maroc devraient intervenir au cours des prochains mois.
The high transaction costs involved in Islamic financing are likely to limit its use in funding infrastructure projects in Kenya. According to a new study commissioned by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) Islamic financing is deemed to be expensive. This fact is corroborated by the case study of Lekki project which utilised a loan financing scheme that attracts huge transaction costs paid by the special purpose company in terms of 1.5-4.0% one-off administration fees and notary fees. The working paper also recommended that a national Sharia board be set up so as to set standards for Islamic finance.