The Insurance (Amendment) Act 2016 signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to enhance Kenya's position as the premier Islamic financial hub in Africa. The move came a week after the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) was admitted by the Council of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) as an associate member of the board. The new law provides for the licensing and regulation of Takaful insurance business in Kenya in order to encourage international investment in this sector. The decision to admit CMA was made at the 29th IFSB Council meeting held in Cairo, Egypt on December 14. In October, the government launched the Islamic Finance Project Management Office (PMO). CMA's Chief Executive Paul Muthaura said the authority membership in IFSB is a key step towards the development of Kenya as an Islamic finance hub. The Insurance (Amendment) Act 2016 now enables the operationalisation of risk-based solvency requirements for insurers that were introduced in the Finance Act 2013. Among those proposals is a requirement that an insurer should maintain a 100% capital adequacy ratio at all times.
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.
The 4th Langkawi Islamic Finance and Economics (LIFE-4) Global Forum, scheduled for mid-February 2013, will provide a global platform to discuss key issues around the competitiveness, growth and sustainability of Islamic finance. Its theme is 'Islamic Financial Planning and Wealth Management as the New Frontier for Global Islamic Banking and Finance Industry'. Financial regulators, experts, jurists, academics and stakeholders across the world will meet in order to move the industry forward.