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).
International law firm Simmons & Simmons and the Kyrgyz Republic have signed an agreement to provide consultancy services for the development of laws and regulations, supporting the introduction of Takaful and Sukuk in the Kyrgyz Republic. The consultancy services to be provided by Simmons & Simmons are to be funded under a technical assistance grant provided by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). First Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, HE Tayirbek Sarpashev, noted that upon the signing of this Agreement, the Government expects the economy to attract large investments that will favourably affect the development of the financial market and banking sector. The Simmons & Simmons team is led by Muneer Khan, assisted by managing associate Tariq Hameed.
Simmons & Simmons has hired another partner from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in London. John Kelsey,recruitment of real estate specialist, took the number of partners the firm has hired from BLP to seven in less than a year. The hire follows the adding of six partners from BLP to its London office last year.
Also in the real estate space, Mayer Brown has switsched to rebuild its property practice with the hire of a partner from CMS Cameron McKenna. Chris Harvey, a salaried or gateway partner in CMS' London real estate group, will oversee Mayer Brown's City real estate investment team.