It seems that although the planned introduction of Sukuk in Kenya is foreseen to expand the opportunities available in the capital market, fund managers stated that its impact will not be significant unless the Sukuk represent tangible assets to allow trading, or are deliberately structured to have a short maturity if they represent receivables of cash.
In Kenya, fund managers are used to trading bonds with commercial banks and will be searching for similar opportunities from Sukuk issues.
The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), wishes Islamic finance institutions to take responsibility for upgrading the skills level among their staff to guarantee that accounting standards in Shari'ah compliant companies are up to international financial reporting standards.
Kenya has experienced real growth in Islamic finance and questions are being asked on the availability of talent that comprehends Shari'ah compliant financial processes.
Kenya's Islamic finance industry consists of two banks and an insurance company plus several Shari'ah compliant windows of about a dozen conventional banks.
The Capital Markets Authority of Kenya has just animated the blue touch paper for Sukuk issuance by recommending that all future bond issues have to posess a Shari’ah compliant component to them. This directs that Islamic finance institutions will have an ever-expanding pool of liquidity from which to expand. The ruling will also grant retail customers to buy into the Shari’ah compliant Sukuk market.
The recommendations came after a study by a group chosen by the CMA.
Islamic finance players stated that they are analyzing the recommendations before they issue their views.
Changes are planned in the financial regulations of Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. These will permit a launch of Sukuk and are allocated to deliver a rebound in the international Sukuk market, a market that has been declining since 2008.
The latest Global Sukuk Market report released by the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) shows that Africa accounted for only 0.3% of global Sukuk launches in the decade ending December 2010, all of which came from Sudan with some miniscule activity in The Gambia.
The report also adds that issuance trend displays that Islamic countries will continue to be the main drivers of the Sukuk market in the coming years while others from Europe, Africa, Central Asian Republics and the Far East may join if they see opportunity and advantage in issuing Sukuk.
Although FCB Capital, Kenya's first Shari'ah compliant Islamic investment bank, has carried out a modest amount of business in its first year of operations, it has prooved that East Africa has an appetite for Islamic finance.
The bank's results for the first six months show that it has only just begun receiving income in the last six months, mostly in administration and advisory fees. Their total income was $144,400.
The awash with Tawarruq deals as Islamic finance institutions, starvation of wealth creating opportunities and liquidity in the local market will allow East Africa to transact with the conventional financial sector.
Kenya's two existing Islamic banks, the Shari'ah compliant windows of conventional banks in East Africa and Takaful firms are constantly exploiting the Tawarruq window.
Abdalla Abulkhalik Sheikh, general manager and acting CEO of Gulf African Bank in Kenya, stated that they are using Tawarruq until the government will allow trading of Sukuk.
The Sudanese Islamic Bank of Khartoum is planing to move into Kenya in what would be the first cross-border expansion of Islamic finance in East Africa.
Kenya is in the process of changing its finance laws to allow Islamic finance. enya has also reformed its capital markets laws to allow the launch of Sukuk.
The OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) Business Forum was held on June 2008 in Uganda.
At that point it was declared that the National Islamic Bank would be set up in Uganda. This will bring Uganda in line with some other EAC member countries like Kenya that have already opened their doors to this form of banking. Such new banking products will increase the depth, breadth and range of finance products bank customers can use to access banking services and as an alternative to the current interest bearing financial products under the conventional banking system.
The Sudanese Islamic Bank plans to move in the future into Kenya. This would be the first cross-border expansion of Islamic finance in East Africa.
Kenya is in the process of changing its finance laws to allow Islamic finance. Kenya has two Shari'ah compliant banks in operation, a Takaful company and an array of Shari'ah compliant banking products in conventional banks, leading the way.
Because of the amplification of Islamic banking and insurance, banking and insurance regulators expect a new legislation that allows ompanies to invest in Sharia-compliant securities.
Kenya's first Islamic insurance firm, Takaful Insurance, was initiated 3 weeks ago. The first branch was opened in Eastleigh, Nairobi. That is why an absolute change is needed.
A first fully Shariah-compliant insurance cover initiative has been launched in Kenya. The Takaful Insurance of Africa Limited has introduced an insurance package grounded in Islamic Muamalat, the Islamic Banking Principles espoused in Islamic law and aims at serving all Kenyans across religious faiths. The Vice President called for a through study into principles that guide various insurance systems with a view to instilling best practices in the industry.
The slow rate of reforms on laws governing Islamic banking is holding back the sector’s growth potential in the region and its contribution to the economy.
As a result, Kenya risks losing investment to Uganda that has fully revised its banking rules and regulations to cater for Islamic financial institution needs. The country has attracted the attention of investors from as far as the Middle East who are now eyeing establishing banks in the neighbouring country.
Kenya has ambitions of becoming the Islamic finance hub of East Africa and has the first mover advantage. But contrary to recent reports that Kenya may pass legislation to eliminate tax barriers to sukuk issuance by the end of the year, Islamic bankers in East Africa's largest economy stress that it is highly unlikely that any major developments will occur in terms of tax neutrality and other legislation that is required to facilitate products such as sukuk in the local market.
Takaful Insurance of Africa has been licensed and launched in Nairobi.
The company was registered by the Kenyan industry regulator, Insurance Regulator Authority, this month. It is backed by the Cooperative Insurance Company of Kenya.
The launch of Takaful Insurance of Africa follows on from the granting of two Islamic banking licenses to Kenyan authorities in 2007 to Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank.
The first Sharia-compliant insurance company in Kenya has been formed as the race for Islamic cash intensifies.
The firm, which will operate as Gulf Takaful Company Ltd, is being fronted by GulfCap Investments — the principal shareholder in Gulf African Bank.
Under the model, people seeking insurance cover will pay premiums to a collective fund from which payments will be made to members who suffer from the risks covered.
But unlike conventional insurance practice, the new insurance model, known in Islamic parlance as Takaful, is both an investment offering as much as it covers members.
Gulf African Bank will act as the fund manager for the insurance company, earning fees for its services to the insurance scheme.
Analysts say that by introducing Sukuk, the government could diversify the base of investors bidding for government debt papers, given the cash flush investors from the East who have shown interest in Africa as an investment destination.
The perceived sustainability and attractiveness of Islamic finance as an alternative financial management model in a post global financial crisis continues to flourish in new regions and countries trying to change banking regulations and laws to facilitate the introduction of such institutions and products in their respective jurisdictions.
The latest region which is trying to open up to Islamic finance is East Africa, including Ethiopia, where local reports suggest that the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the central bank, is in the process of finalizing a banking regulation and business directive that would allow the authorization of a bank operating under interest-free (Islamic finance) principles.
At the same time the government of Kenya is studying the possibility of issuing the country's debut sovereign sukuk issuance, while the First Community Bank (FCB), Kenya's second Islamic bank, has launched FCB Capital, which plans to issue a series of local currency sukuk plus other Islamic capital market products for a growing market segment.
But about 10 per cent of the Dubai’s US$80 billion debt load is estimated to comply with Shariah, casting the spot light on the credibility pedestal Islamic financing has ridden on over the years. Islamic banking experts at IIBI say that Islamic finance as a viable solution to get rid of the weaknesses of conventional finance is mainly limited to theoretical debate.
Chase bank in Kenya has launched Shariah compliant products writes Mwaniki Wahome in the Daily Nation.
Known as Imam Banking, products are tailored for corporate, small-and-medium enterprises, as well as individuals. The accounts will include current accounts, savings accounts and fixed period investments. Together with Genghis Capital Limited and Winton Investment Services Sharia compliant investment banking and wealth managements products are planned. Further the management studies to introduce Takaful.
Zafrullah Khan is the MD of Chase.
James Makau reported in Business Daily on 31 March that the Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank became the first fully fledged Islamic banks in Kenya but both had to record losses in their first year of operations as operating expenses and heavy set-up costs took a heavy toll on earnings.
Gulf African Bank recorded a loss of Sh281 million last year while First Community Bank (FCB) posted a loss of Sh307 million within the same period despite both players recording increases in net income during the year.