Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) plans to be operating in Kenya before the end of 2016, despite the Kenyan authorities' moratorium on issuing new banking licences. Kenyan banks have come under closer scrutiny from the regulator because of increasing bad debts, prompting officials and analysts to conclude the sector is ripe for consolidation. Three medium-sized and small banks have been taken over by the regulator since August last year. DIB had been in talks with the regulator before the moratorium was placed on the licensing of new commercial banks last November, meaning it would not affect a decision on its licence.
When Senegal issued a 100bn CFA franc ($168m) sovereign Islamic bond in June 2014, it beat economic giants Nigeria and South Africa to market and began a race to create a hub for Islamic finance in Africa. Senegalese officials are optimistic about the country's prospects. There is an Islamic bank in Senegal, the Banque Islamique du Sénégal. Alioune N'Diaye, the finance ministry's director for money and credit, also emphasized the good relationship with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). With a gradual readjustment of tax and other laws to be able to accommodate sharia-compliant financial instruments and growing ties with Gulf states, Senegal could become a prime destination for Arab investors who are looking for higher returns on their money.
Turkey's Bank Asya said it was selling its 40 percent stake in Senegal-based Tamweel Africa Holding for 31.8 million euros ($37.7 million). Asya is selling the stake in Tamweel, which promotes Islamic finance in sub-Saharan Africa, to the Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The bank obtains 41.3 million lira profit through this sale and expects an positive impact on first quarter profitability, Cengiz Onder, Bank Asya's head of investor relations said. Besides, Bank Asya has laid off 1,708 staff and closed 80 branches, out of the 5,074 staff and 281 branches it had at the end of 2013.
Hassan Bashir, Founder of Takaful Insurance of Africa, says the Kenya-based company's products can bring possibilities to many and are not exclusively for people of the Muslim faith. Takaful Insurance of Africa started in Kenya, but opened an office in Somalia 6 months ago, as well as expressed interest in Uganda, Djibouti and Tanzania. Hassan Bashir believes that Islamic finance can bring possibilities to many people by helping them get employment and access to finance. With the company's index-based livestock takaful, pastoralists are continuously educated so that they understand that the cover is in line with their religious sensitivities and this is to sustain their livelihoods despite droughts. In the long run, this will solve the negative perceptions about Islamic finance.
Until recently, Islamic finance in Africa had held more promise than progress, but that is changing. African governments are looking to sharia-compliant financial markets to attract investment from the Middle East. The Senegalese government closed on a 100bn CFA franc ($208m) sukuk on 18 July, and South Africa plans to launch its first sovereign sukuk this year. It could be valued at up to $700m. Money from the Middle East is also coming in the form of development finance. The Islamic Development Bank said in June that it is devoting $180m to renewable energy projects in Africa and plans to provide $7bn in finance to African countries by 2019.
Kenya's financial regulator has proposed a separate regulatory framework for Islamic financial institutions as part of a broad ten-year strategy designed to boost capital markets. A draft of the strategy was circulated early this year and the plan is now in its final stages of preparation. It aims to promote more sophisticated financial services in Kenya. In the short term, the CMA plans to create a regulatory framework of its own for Islamic capital markets, focusing on corporate governance, information disclosure, a policyholder compensation fund and responsible pricing. In the long term, however, the CMA would engage the central bank and national Treasury to develop a separate policy, legislative and regulatory framework for Islamic finance.
The future financial regulation of Libya will face some new challenges and advantages. The question remains however, whether the absence of political stability and security will have a positive effect on the adoption of Islamic finance. The new Congress elected in July this year will appoint an interim government and a constituent authority to prepare the draft of the country's new constitution. On one hand, the Congress is influenced by liberals considerably more than by islamists. On the other hand, the liberals have vowed to accept and include Islamic principles in the new constitution.