Leaders of global and regional institutions pledge political support and major new financial assistance for countries in the region, totaling more than $8 billion over the coming years. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the World Bank Group (WBG) President, Jim Yong Kim, as well as the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group and high level representatives of the African Union Commission, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) are combining forces to promote stability and development in the Horn of Africa. The initiative covers the eight countries in the Horn of Africa -- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.
The fast growing Islamic insurance package, Takaful, is not exclusively meant for Muslims, as it has been designed to cater for the needs of non-Muslims as well. This clarification was made by the founder of Takaful Insurance of Africa, Mr Hassan Bashir, who disclosed that the Kenya-based company’s products could bring fruitful possibilities to the doorsteps of non-Muslims as well as, not just for people of the Muslim faith. Bashir made this known at a recent chat with the media where he also revealed that non-Muslims currently constituted about 15 per cent of the company’s customer base, adding that the figure was expected to increase as time passed.
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.
A delegation of the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) visited Kenya last week to enhance bilateral business relations between the two countries and open up new areas of investment. The delegation was headed by Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdulla al-Thani, second deputy to QBA chairman and Ezdan Holding chairman. The delegation included Ezdan Holding CEO Ali Mohamed al-Obaidly and Vodafone Qatar CEO Kyle Whitehill among other businessmen and QBA members. The delegation was received by Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed, who brought them together with senior officials from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of Kenya’s business community. Sheikh Dr Khalid said Kenya has become a promising and attractive business environment.
The laws regulating Islamic financing in Kenya need fine tuning to fully support sharia compliant banking, First Community Bank general manager Omar Sheikh has said. At the moment there is no double taxation for the murabaha contracts but the law ought to be clear on this matter for future operations. Sheikh also cited the loss sharing principle as a matter that creates confusion in terms of declaration and their accounting statements whereby while sharia law requires that profit and loss be shared among the bank and clients, the local industry's guidelines require that they record it as loss provision in their books. Sheikh urged non Muslims to also seek services at the bank adding that wrong perception that the lender is restricted to Muslim clients has been the biggest challenge to its growth.
The International Finance Corporation, the private-investment arm of the US-based World Bank Group, has announced that the Gulf African Bank (GAB) in Kenya has become a member of its Africa Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Finance Program. Through this program, GAB will receive advisory services from IFC in the areas of accessibility for customers, speed of service, adding new products and customer relationships. In 2013, IFC paid USD 5 million for a stake of undisclosed size in GAB. As of December 2013, GAB had total assets of KES 16 billion (USD 184 million). IFC has 182 member countries and reported total assets of USD 77.5 billion.
A mutual insurance scheme based on Islamic Sharia law has been launched to reduce the impact of extreme weather events on pastoral livelihoods in Kenya’s arid northern regions where perennial drought often decimates thousands of livestock. The Islamic Takaful insurance is boosting risk management. Those insured under the Tafakul scheme are compensated for the loss, or reduction in value, of their livestock based on an index formulated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and according to information gathered by satellites to measure vegetation coverage and thus the severity of drought. Recently, some 101 livestock farmers received their first pay-out.
With Islamic financing growing significantly in Kenya over the last five years and now accounting for 2% of the country's total banking industry, it's not surprising that Standard Charted chose Kenya as the first African nation in which to launch its Sadiq suite of Islamic banking products. Trade Finance caught up with Wasim Saifi, Standard Chartered's global head of Islamic banking, to find out what Islamic trade products it has planned for Kenya and why the bank sees Africa as the new growth frontier for the $1 trillion plus Islamic finance market.
Researchers in Kenya have developed a pioneering insurance policy for nomadic Muslim livestock herders, which has now delivered its first payout of approximately $5,800 to 101 farmers to compensate them for drought losses. The policy, which was purchased by about 4,000 pastoralists in Northern Kenya, was developed by the International Livestock Research Institute and commercially delivered by Takaful Insurance of Africa. Since the farmers usually habitat isolated areas, index-based insurance works better than traditional insurance. For Takaful Insurance of Africa, the project is a leap of faith, as they are not currently making a profit. However, hopes are the project will eventually be self-sustaining.
Islamic banking was introduced in 2008 in Kenya when the first two Islamic Banks, Community Bank (FCB) and Gulf African Bank (GAB), opened their doors. Islamic finance has evolved rapidly into insurance, investments, and pensions which are in line with the Islamic law. Owing to the success of the two Islamic Banks in terms of attracting deposits from the Muslim community, other commercial banks have quickly opened up Islamic segments to compete for the Muslim wallets. Currently, 10 out of the 42 commercial Banks in Kenya have created such segments. However, one of the main challenges facing Islamic finance in Kenya is lack of Shari`ah-compliant investment instruments in the financial markets, such as shares, stocks and bonds.
Standard Chartered Bank sees great potential for Islamic banking in Kenya with only two percent penetration to the total banking business. Standard Chartered Bank’s Global Head of Islamic Banking Wasim Saif says with the population of Muslims being 10 percent in the country Islamic banking could grow to a double digit number in the next five years. That's why the bank launched its Islamic banking offering in Kenya under the brand name Saadiq. Saadiq becomes the first market of Standard Chartered’s African footprint for Islamic banking, and is considered a platform to enter in other African markets that include Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria in two to three years. The new window will offer Shariah compliant products that include personal banking, home financing, as well as business and corporate banking.
Dubai Islamic Bank plans to expand its operations into Asian and African countries as it emerges from a period of consolidation, the bank's chief executive Adnan Chilwan said. The lender, which currently makes some 95 percent of its revenue within the United Arab Emirates, says it is entering a growth phase domestically and internationally. It is exploring opportunities in Indonesia, Kenya and surrounding countries in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the GCC. Expansion could be realized via acquisition, a Joint Venture, a finance company or a greenfield operation as long as DIB keeps management control and operates under its brand, Chilwan added. However, Chilwan said the bank also expected strong growth in its domestic market, so the balance between local and international business would not change radically.
Dubai Islamic Bank has revealed plans to expand its operations to Africa as well as Asia, as it seeks growth for its domestic and international business. According to DIB’s chief executive Adnan Chilwan, the bank is exploring opportunities in Indonesia, Kenya and surrounding countries in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the GCC, with the hope of doing this via acquisition, Joint Venture, establishment of a finance company, or through a greenfield operation startup. Given a five-year scenario, the bank expects a decent franchise spread across these countries with stable and solid yields across all sectors. International business is estimated getting at best 10 to 15 percent of the overall group numbers in about six to eight years.
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.
Our employer of the week has several vacancies to offer job seekers out there. Gulf African Bank which opened its doors in the country in 2008 is looking for customer service officers, product development, shariah compliance officers and tellers. Swaleh Sharif who is the human resource director says the deadline to submit your applications is in two months’ time.
Last November, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta attended the third Arab-Africa Summit in Kuwait. The visit and subsequent bilateral discussions were largely geared at establishing and strengthening joint financing mechanisms for capital intensive infrastructural projects through strong economic ties. During the visit, the Treasury realised Kenya was a member of the Islamic Development Bank which could help the country to tap more funds and become a highly industrializing, middle-income economy in the next 16 years. While over short term the country is focused on tapping into conventional financing streams from the dominantly Islamic Arab countries, it is angling herself to become the East and Central African hub for Islamic finance and banking over medium to long term period.
The first ever Islamic re-insurance is expected to be launched this year as the Kenya Reinsurance Corporation ventures into Sharia-compliant business. The Capital Markets Authority says in its new 10-year master plan that Kenya Re has the potential to provide a regional platform for this product since it has presence in West Africa and Middle East markets. The master plan has also proposed for the creation of a regulatory framework for Islamic capital markets focusing on corporate governance, disclosures, a policyholder compensation fund and responsible pricing. The CMA has in addition proposed the development of a separate policy, legislative and regulatory framework for Islamic products and services covering Islamic financial institutions, financial regulators, Islamic groups and the Ministry of Finance. This policy will run parallel to the conventional Act.
Gulf African Bank has tied its public listing plans to the exit of International Finance Corporation (IFC) from its shareholders’ roll. IFC bought a 15 per cent stake in the bank for $5 million (Sh430 million) last year, which valued it at about $33.33 million (Sh2.86 billion) at the time. Chief executive of Gulf Bank Abdalla Abdulkhalik said IFC plans to exit through a public share sale. The IPO is also expected to raise additional capital for the lender. However, no timeframe has been set. Going by the IFC’s investment horizon the public could get a chance to buy into the lender by 2017. IFC’s policy is to invest in firms for between five and seven years. Gulf Bank's total assets stood at Sh13.56 billion as at the end of 2012, up from Sh5 billion as at the end of 2008.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the investment arm of the World Bank – has acquired 15 percent shareholding in Gulf African Bank, Kenya's Islamic bank, for $5 million (Sh425 million). In addition, a further $3 million (Sh255 million) trade guarantee has been opened for Gulf African Bank under IFC’s global trade finance programme. Gulf African Bank said it would use IFC’s financing to boost finance for retail and corporate customers and develop programmes for women entrepreneurs while also extending services to SMEs. In addition to the IFC partnership, the bank is undertaking a rights issue to increase its capital base by an additional Sh850 million.
Standard Chartered Plc will start offering Islamic banking in Kenya as a springboard into the rest of Africa, Wasim Saifi, its global head of Islamic consumer banking said. Moreover, it may expand services in Indonesia. He said the bank would offer the services through its Islamic banking brand, Standard Chartered Saadiq, targeting the country’s official Muslim population of 4 million people, as well as non-Muslims. The new products will first be launched in Kenya, then in other countries in east Africa and west Africa, as well as further afield. Especially Indonesia is interesting to the bank because Islamic finance is set to triple or quadruple in the next five-ten years in the country. Standard Chartered currently offers Islamic banking in Indonesia through associate Bank Permata