Africa

#Kenya's Islamic finance drive to tackle taxes, governance

Kenya plans to develop Islamic finance through a wide-ranging taxation review and the establishment of a national sharia board. The country wants to build up the industry as part of a long-term plan to turn Nairobi into an international financial centre. The initiatives are being led by the Islamic Finance Project Management Office (PMO), a body setup recently to coordinate efforts among Kenya's regulatory agencies. According to finance consultant Farrukh Raza, the PMO has submitted an initial set of policy amendments focused on taxation of sharia-compliant products. A second batch of policy amendments will be presented by the end of this year, covering banking, insurance, pensions and capital market products. Kenya's National Treasury has said it is looking at the possibility of a debut sale of sukuk, although it has yet to finalize details for such an issuance.

Why #Ethiopia wants to develop Islamic finance

Ethiopia's central bank aims to develop Islamic finance to help expand financial access and inclusion. The country has one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, but relies heavily on an agricultural sector that employs three-quarters of the workforce. According to Getahun Nana, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, the government wants to industrialize its economy but this requires sustaining investment rates of almost 40% of GDP over the next five years. Islamic finance could help in this endeavor, so the central bank is conducting a study to determine the demand for sharia compliant financial products. Islamic finance is still new in Ethiopia. Currently 8 out of 18 financial institutions offer sharia compliant products via Islamic windows but they have so far mobilized less than 1% of total deposits.

Standard Chartered looks to Africa, Brunei for Islamic growth

Standard Chartered's Islamic division is seeking banking licences in three African countries in order to offer its services to the population. According to the bank's head of Islamic banking, Mohammad Ali Allawalla, Standard Chartered Saadiq could enter at least one of three markets, Nigeria, Botswana and Zambia, as early as 2017. The bank is also in discussions about gaining an Islamic banking licence in Brunei in South East Asia. Standard Chartered Saadiq's core markets are Pakistan, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Bangladesh and in 2014 it entered the Kenyan market, its first move into Africa.

#Djibouti sees Islamic finance sector expanding, aims for #sukuk

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 ripe for Islamic finance

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.

Financial inclusion: NAICOM to approve dedicated companies for #takaful, micro insurance

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.

Jaiz Gets Shareholders’ Approval To List On #Nigerian Stock Exchange

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.

Islamic financing principles panacea to recession - Experts

#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.

#Sukuk bonds issuance will grow in West Africa, says Hogan Lovells

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.

#Nigeria: Islamic #Insurance Firms to Begin Operations in Nigeria

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.

Treasury moves in to seal Islamic finance loopholes

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.

Afriland First Bank and ICD sign agreement to create Islamic window in #IvoryCoast

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 sets up body to manage push into Islamic finance

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.

Islamic Banking Can Sustain #Somaliland's Development

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.

UPDATE 1-#Nigeria cenbank set limits on banks' investment in govt Islamic bonds

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.

#Nigeria: Only 20 Percent of Muslims Access Financial Services - World Bank

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.

Gulf investments in Africa beginning to spread far and wide

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 #sukuk leads #IvoryCoast and #Togo deals

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.

CORRECTED-African sovereign trio add to growing appeal for #sukuk

#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.

#Uganda: Govt to Extend Interest-Free Loans to Women Groups

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.

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