Ethiopia's central bank aims to develop Islamic finance to help expand financial access and inclusion. The country has one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, but relies heavily on an agricultural sector that employs three-quarters of the workforce. According to Getahun Nana, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, the government wants to industrialize its economy but this requires sustaining investment rates of almost 40% of GDP over the next five years. Islamic finance could help in this endeavor, so the central bank is conducting a study to determine the demand for sharia compliant financial products. Islamic finance is still new in Ethiopia. Currently 8 out of 18 financial institutions offer sharia compliant products via Islamic windows but they have so far mobilized less than 1% of total deposits.
Kenya has a higher percentage of Christians compared to Muslims, but this country is seeing a surge in Islamic financing. According to Rahma Hassan Hersi, Managing Partner at Awal Consulting, the lack of regulations is deterring potential growth. There is a need to address this issue in tandem with the central bank. There is also very limited expertise. The penetration of Islamic finance in Kenya is estimated at 2% with a limited number of banks and insurance companies playing in that space.
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.
A report from the Islamic Development Bank suggests that an Islamic social finance product "Zakah" has great potential in curbing poverty for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. CNBC Africa spoke to Mohammed Obaidullah, Senior Economist at the Islamic Development Bank and Lead Author of the Islamic Social Finance Report, to get more insight on this.
Rating agency Standard and Poor's says regulation and fiscal incentives could speed Islamic finance development in Africa. The report further noted that African sovereigns have issued only about $1 billion of Sukuk instruments, compared with global Sukuk issuance of an average $100 billion per year over the past five years. Samira Mensah, an associate director at Standard and Poor's joins CNBC Africa to share more insight on this report. Watch the video on http://www.cnbcafrica.com/video/?bctid=4413568917001#.
Kenya plans to create an enabling regulatory framework to boost Sharia financing in the country. The country's Capital Market Authority is holding a workshop in Nairobi. Islamic finance, which follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling, is currently offered by two full-fledged Islamic lenders in Kenya - Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank.