Islamic banking nears its big breakthrough in Africa

While Islamic banking assets have grown rapidly around the world to stand at more than USD1.3 trillion at the end of 2012, the industry has remained in its infancy in Africa. However that could be about to change. By the end of this decade it’s quite possible that banking complying with Shariah law could grow to account for up to 10 per cent of banking assets in five or six sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria. Behind the buzz is real demand from African domestic consumers for the choice to bank in accordance with their faith. Governments and regulators in Africa no longer view Islamic banking as a niche industry, but actively seek to encourage its development. There’s also growing awareness of the significant liquidity pool now available in Islamic finance, particularly across the Middle East, as a source of funding for crucial infrastructure investment. Sub-Saharan Africa has a great opportunity to develop a healthy Islamic banking eco-system much faster than other regions of the world.