Many tout the promise of Islamic banking in Africa, but retail consumers have been hesitant in many markets. hough Muslims make up a large portion of the unbanked population in many target countries, they just weren’t coming into the fold—at least not at a significant rate. This admission may come as a surprise to anyone reading the parade of headlines about ‘unlocking the potential’ for Islamic banking in Africa. There’s been quite a few. While this is still true, the reality on the ground—literally, because we’re talking about retail here—is more complicated than that. In its recent 2016 Outlook, Moody’s Investor Services largely predicted challenging times in African banking due to sinking commodities prices, China’s slowdown and regulatory difficulties.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, said he welcomed an offer by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to organisze a financing roundtable in Abuja to mobilise more funds for investment and development of infrastructure in Nigeria. The president of the IDB, Dr Ahmed Mohammed Ali made the offer at a meeting with Buhari who is currently on an official visit to Saudi Arabia. Ali assured Buhari that the IDB would work with its traditional partners such as the Saudi Fund, the Kuwait Fund, Arab Bank for Development in Africa and the Abu Dhabi Fund, to increase the quantum of funding available to Nigeria. Buhari welcomed the plan by the IDB to fast track the take-off of the Bilingual Education Programme, aimed at integrating the Almajiri system of education with western education in Nigeria.
Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission and the Debt Management Office recently inaugurated a committee to oversee Nigeria's first sovereign sukuk, an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in Western Finance that complies with the Islamic religious law. CNBC Africa's Onyi Sunday spoke to Samira Mensah, Associate Director at Standard & Poor's to discuss the rising demand for Islamic finance products in Africa.
Islamic banking can provide an array of financial products that would help boost an economy that's dominated by small businesses and start-ups. These small entities make a very huge contribution to greater economic growth. That said, many of Uganda's local banks regard these entities as "too small" and only want to characterise them as "start-ups" which they don't finance. Islamic Finance also provides for the Qard el-Hasan or a benevolent loan. Conventional banks provide these products in same form. However, there is a huge difference in the detail of how all this pans out. Islamic finance is the embodiment of the type of capital that will help boost a growing economy.
The Cameroonian subsidiary of the Pan African banking group Ecobank now offers to its clients the "Mudaraba saving account", which follows the rules of Islamic finance. Ecobank Cameroun thus joins on this segment Afriland First Bank, a credit institution with Cameroonian majority shareholding, which went into Islamic finance some years ago, with the Islamic current account (compte de dépôt islamique - CDI). On 20 February 2015, this Cameroonian bank officially opened a branch focused on Islamic finance, with the support of the International Company for the Development of the Private Sector. During the first year of operation of this specialised branch, Afriland First Bank was planning to collect around FCfa 3 billion, based on the 20% of the Cameroonian population of Muslim faith.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Debt Management Office (DMO) have inaugurated a committee for the nation’s first sovereign Sukuk. Mr Mounir Gwarzo, SEC Director-General, who confirmed the committee’s inauguration, said it comprised staff of the commission and DMO, and would set up modalities for the first sovereign bond. He said that Sukuk had not been approved by the commission at the moment. Gwarzo said that recently, the commission was working with the DMO to ensure issuance of the bond in the second quarter of 2016. He said that the commission would support DMO in capacity building to ensure successful issuance of the bond.
Kenya is reviewing all laws and regulations governing its nascent Islamic finance industry to aid the issuance of a debut Islamic law-compliant bond, its attorney general said. The East African nation, which issued its first Eurobond in 2014, wants to expand the range of financing available for infrastructure projects like roads and power plants. The Treasury has said it is looking at the possibility of issuing the sukuk in the 2016/17 fiscal year, starting in July, but it has not offered details. Githu Muigai the review of that entire regulatory framework will be completed in a maximum of nine months. Kenya's central bank licensed two shariah-compliant banks in 2007. At least one firm has since started to offer Shariah-compliant insurance products.
Businessmen, policy makers and top government officials met at the 2016 East African Islamic Finance Summit in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to discuss how to build a regulatory infrastructure that could enable the financial system to deliver in east Africa. There is a need for legislative changes in order to promote Islamic finance in the east African region, Mona Doshi, an expert in Islamic finance who works with the Kenyan law firm Anjarwalla and Khanna, said. She said the current legal framework that applied to Islamic banks was based on conventional banking systems, though adjustments have been made for the special nature of Islamic banks. She furthermore urged the Kenyan government to change the legal framework to take advantage of the opportunities that Islamic finance could bring to Kenya.
Hogan Lovells advised the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), as arranger, on the arrangement of an inaugural CFA 150 billion sukuk offering by the government of Ivory Coast. The debut sukuk is an amortising sukuk al-ijara targeted at local banks and institutional investors. The offering mirrors a successful Senegal sukuk that Hogan Lovells advised on in 2014. The team was led by the firm’s global head of Islamic finance, Rahail Ali, and partner Imran Mufti. They were assisted by debt capital markets partner Baptiste Gelpi, in, Paris and Lina Bugaighis, Dubai. Bensaid outlines the sukuk sector as very promising, referring to recent developments which have seen governments focusing more on creating a more enabling environment for sukuk issuances.
Since Parliament has finally approved Islamic Banking, an increase is expected in investment from numerous Islamic Banks. Abubaker B. Mayanja, financial economist with ABL Dunamis, anticipates an increase in Capital inflow of $600m over the medium term; driven first by international banks that already include Islamic Banking products in their offering elsewhere. The second wave will come from regional players that are already in the East African market. The third wave will come from the traditional Middle East players. The fourth wave will be an expansion of Islamic finance system; insurance (Takaful), capital markets- sukuk bonds and funds, pension management, leasing (Ijara), mortgages and investment banking.
Worried by turbulent developmental challenges facing the Northern part of Nigeria, selected Governors from the northeast, northwest and north central, representing the 19 Governors of the region, will on Sunday begin a three day meeting with top executives of Islamic Development Bank (IDB), at the bank’s headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The parley deliberated on ways of tackling challenges of Agriculture, poverty, education, maternal mortality ?and other problems most prevalent in the north than any part of Nigeria. In subsequent days, the Governors will hold different meetings with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, ITFC and the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment & Export Credit (ICIEC), Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD).
The Central Bank of West Africa’s CFA-franc zone (BCEAO) has signed an agreement with the Jeddah-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), to help finance Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) through a $100 million Islamic fund. The ICD will commit an initial $30 million for the SME fund and will help seek additional investors to increase the amount to $100 million while the implementation monitoring was entrusted to the BCEAO. The Central Bank also committed to supporting SMEs by providing incentives to credit institutions, as well as developing complementary leasing and venture capital instruments.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reached an agreement with the Debt Management Office (DMO) to issue Nigeria’s maiden sovereign Sukuk. The decision by the two government agencies to collaborate to issue the Sukuk was a major outcome of the visit of the Director General of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo to the DMO on Wednesday. The visit was a return gesture to a similar exercise by the Director General of DMO, Abraham Nwankwo, in November last year. Mr. Nwankwo revealed that issuing a sovereign Sukuk has been part of the institution’s strategic plan drawn three years ago, urging Nigerians to support SEC to building capacity in order to realize the goal of issuing Nigeria’s first sovereign Sukuk in 2016.
Kenya is preparing to allow the use of Islamic finance, and is even preparing to launch its first sukuk. Speaking at the International Islamic Finance conference of Africa in Nairobi on Monday, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said that the Kenyan government would adopt legislation that would make Islamic finance possible. The conference is intended to aid developing countries in Africa to tap into the $2.1 trillion market of Islamic finance, using it as a catalyst of economic growth. Kenya can learn about the application of Islamic finance by taking advice from Muslim countries, Rotich said. Policymakers’ business leaders and government officials spent Monday and Tuesday speaking on how Islamic financial principles can help combat poverty and alleviate poverty in Africa.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is hosting two leaders of Africa’s Ieading economies, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. These visits are to be viewed within the prism of Uhuru’s broader strategy of economic, trade, and cross-cultural bridgebuilding. They underline his growing clout not just in trade and commerce, but also in the cut-throat arena of global geopolitics and nuanced national interests. The booming African Islamic economy provides an opportune vehicle to ameliorate the deprived conditions and lack of economic opportunity. It is a perfect fit for our infrastructure financing needs. Uhuru signed three agreements and four MoUs to promote trade between Kenya and Nigeria in June 2014 – on Trade and Agricultural cooperation, immigration and drug trafficking. A Joint Business Council was formed.
MicroDahab MFI, the microfinance subsidiary and corporate social responsibility initiative of the United Arab Emirates-based conglomerate Dahabshiil Group; and SolarGen Technologies, a Somalia-based distributor of renewable energy technologies, have announced a joint energy project in Somalia. The project will allow low-income Somali farmers and entrepreneurs to acquire a “solar-powered water pump” under a “lease to purchase” agreement. The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), a Kenya-based fund that promotes for-profit enterprises operating in Africa, has provided unspecified support to the initiative. MicroDahab will bear both the capital cost and risk of asset ownership, while its clients reap the benefits of using the water pumps, at minimal rents.
Customers wanting assurances their investments “will not be channelled into the typical sin industries” is one of the reasons cited for a growth in demand for Islamic finance in South Africa. That’s according to Amman Muhammad‚ the FNB Islamic Banking’s CEO. Over the last few years‚ the bank has seen a consistent rise in the number of South African citizens‚ irrespective of faith‚ who have approached them for various Islamic banking services such as investment accounts‚ vehicle and property finance, he stated. Muhammad said that personal principles are starting to influence the type of banking solutions people choose.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) today agreed on wide-ranging cooperation on environmental conservation in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. The Memorandum of Understanding, set to run until June 2018 initially, covers objectives common to the two organizations in the areas of climate change, agriculture and food security, eco-innovation and green economy, and Islamic finance. Capacity building in member countries in all these thematic areas will be supported. The overarching goal is to facilitate the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Togo has reportedly signed three funding agreements worth 194 million U.S. dollars with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The agreements were signed Wednesday in Jeddah during the visit to Saudi Arabia by Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe. The first agreement worth around 131 million U.S. dollars concerns the construction of Adoua-Kara road which links five regions in Togo. Its completion will enable Burkina Faso to have direct access to Lome port. The second funding agreement will go towards improving and expanding access to basic education as well as supporting concerned institutions. The third agreement concerns the energy sector. It will see 46 million dollars spent on electrification of 43 villages in northern Togo.
As the pressure on federal revenue mounts following steady decline in oil revenue, the Federal Government would be resorting to a Sukuk Bond for funding the widening budget deficit. The Debt Management Office, DMO, and Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, are collaborating in an effort to issue the Nigerian sovereign Islamic bonds this year.Details of the expected revenue from the bond is not yet disclosed but officials said they expect significant bridging of the 2016 budget deficit which has exceeded the initial N2.2 trillion estimate. According to DMO issuing a sovereign Sukuk will attract significant amounts of affordable capital from the Gulf countries and other established Islamic markets around the world into Nigeria.