Kenya's government has unveiled a package of initiatives under its latest budget to develop Islamic finance in the country, as part of efforts to mobilise local funds and set Nairobi as a regional hub for the sector. The moves could spur Kenya's decade-old Islamic banking sector and help the government fund infrastructure in a country where Muslims account for about 10% of the population of some 44 million.
Finance Minister Henry Rotich outlined the steps as part of the country's 2017/2018 budget, released on Thursday, aiming to level the playing field between Islamic and interest-based transactions. Amendments to the Public Finance Management Act will also allow the government to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as an alternative funding source. This could prove useful for a government that has set aside billions for infrastructure, with a fiscal deficit set at 524.6 billion shillings ($5.10 billion).
IFAAS (Islamic Finance Advisory & Assurance Services) announced the opening of its Gulf office in Manama, Bahrain. The new office is located in Manama's prestigious Bahrain Financial Harbour.
IFAAS' arrival in Bahrain is a real enhancement to the regional financial industry and Bahrain's position as an Islamic finance hub. According to the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bahrain is widely recognised as the global leader in Islamic finance.