Funding Africa’s huge development needs has long represented a big challenge. This has spawned all kinds of innovative financing mechanisms in the past and could spell an opportunity for Islamic finance, notably haria-compliant bonds, or Sukuk. Still in an embryonic state in Africa – but growing nonetheless – these instruments could play a potential role in delivering large infrastructure projects, from building new airports to constructing power plants and building roads. While it is early days for Africa, on a global scale Islamic finance is not a new concept.
A longstanding feature of the financial markets of Malaysia – a world leader in the field – and across the Middle Eastern Gulf, its spread now encompasses non Muslim-centric territories worldwide. This is a pattern that is catching on, albeit slowly, in Africa. While northern Africa has provided a natural entry point for Islamic products, current activity now focuses on sub-Saharan markets, notably in West Africa.