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
The African Guarantee Fund (AGF), reportedly has agreed to guarantee an unspecified portion of KES 100 million (USD 1.2 million) to be loaned by Gulf African Bank (GAB) to SMEs in Kenya. After the signing of the agreement, GAB Managing Director Asad Ahmed reportedly expressed his belief that the deal will help to increase the bank’s financing and risk management capabilities. AGF was established in Kenya in June 2012 with initial capital sufficient to issue partial guarantees of loans totaling USD 50 million. AGF has branches in nine African countries as of March 2013. As of March 2011, GAB had total assets of KES 9.6 billion (USD 112.3 million) and customer deposits of KES 8.2 billion (USD 96 million).
Kenya's only Shariah-compliant insurer Takaful Insurance of Africa Ltd (TIA) plans to expand its operations into five East African nations, according to its Chief Executive Officer Hassan Bashir. Under TIA’s five-year plan it will expand into Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and the autonomously governed enclave of Somaliland, where it was granted a license this year. CIC Insurance Group (CIC) is one of the largest investors in TIA with about 22 percent, while four investment companies also have stakes. In Kenya, TIA has four outlets and 80 agents in Nairobi and Mombasa. The company plans to add at least two more outlets this year and double the number of agents, Bashir said.
Kenya-based Takaful Insurance of Africa Ltd. plans to expand into five East African countries, including Tanzania, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia and the self-declared sovereign state Somaliland, as part of the insurer's plans for the 2013-2017 period, CEO Hassan Bashir said.
Takaful Insurance of Africa Ltd. plans to expand its operations into Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and the autonomously governed enclave of Somaliland under its five-year plan 2013-2017. In Kenya, Takaful Insurance has four outlets and 80 agents in Nairobi and Mombasa. The company plans to add at least two more outlets this year and double the number of agents, according to its CEO Hassan Bashir. Takaful’s premiums totaled 430 million shillings last year.
Takaful Insurance of Africa is banking on product diversification and opening of more shops to establish itself better in the region. The insurer has already acquired an operating licence from the Retirement Benefits Authority to start a Shariah-compliant pension scheme while the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) allowed it to transact long-term insurance business or family Takaful known in conventional insurance as life insurance. Moreover, TIA is planning its expansion, especially in regions of Kenya with a high Muslim population. The company posted profits of Sh26 million for the year 2012.
The two Islamic banks in Kenya posted growth in their profits last year as the faith-based banking concept becomes entrenched in the country's financial sector. Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank were able to break even in a fairly short time — Gulf African in two years and First Community in three years. Last year, Gulf African registered 154 per cent after-tax profit growth to Sh242 million. First Community Bank, on its part, recorded 239 per cent growth in profit-after-tax to Sh241.3 million last year. According to the Central Bank, by December 31, 2010, the two Islamic finance banks collectively commanded 0.9 per cent of the banking sector net loans and advances of $115 million (Sh9.7 billion) and deposits of $171 million (14.5 billion).