#Afghanistan enlists faith-based banks to aid financial inclusion

Afghanistan hopes its first Islamic bank will attract more customers and improve access to financial services in the country. The central bank granted its first Islamic license last month and is now developing wealth management products and new digital banking services. There are currently six banks that offer sharia compliant products through so-called Islamic windows and their conversion would require setting up an internal sharia board and having a clean bill of health. The latter may be a challenge for some because of difficulties in converting impaired loans into Islamic equivalents. The government is also working on legislation that would allow for the issuance of sukuk, although such plans are still at a preliminary stage.

First full-fledged Islamic bank approved in #Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s central bank has granted a license to the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan (IBA). IBA Chief Financial Officer Faizan Ahmed said the bank had completed the conversion of its balance sheet. It plans to introduce wealth management products and launch new digital banking services in the coming months. Afghanistan’s banking sector is small, but Islamic finance is seen as an important feature that could help attract more people into the financial system. IBA estimates that only 5.7% of the population has dealings with the banking sector and the majority of the country in unbanked. Islamic banking has been offered in Afghanistan by a handful of firms through so-called Islamic windows, but there have been no full-fledged Islamic banks so far. Lenders with Islamic windows include Afghan United Bank, Ghazanfar Bank and Afghanistan International Bank.

Saudi's Islamic Development Bank to offer $500 mn #loan for #TAPI project

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) had agreed to provide USD 500 million loan to part-finance the USD 15 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project.
IsDB has expressed interest in financing the project not just on Turkmenistan's territory, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan, too. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day gas for 30 years. The project had been planned to become operational in 2018, but it is unlikely to see the light of day before 2022. The four nations to the project in April this year had signed an investment agreement in Ashgabad. The technical study of the TAPI project, done by Penspen, has estimated that it will take over six years to complete from the start of the FEED process.

Islamic Advisory Group supports final push for polio eradication

The Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) for Polio Eradication has adopted a new work plan to end polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The announcement came at the third annual IAG meeting held at the Islamic Development Bank’s headquarters in Jeddah. In a statement issued by the meeting, the IAG affirms the religious obligation of parents to vaccinate their children to keep them healthy. According to IAG deputy Dr. Abbas Shouman, the misperceptions usually arise due to fatwas issued by non-specialists who leave children exposed to handicap or death. IDB president Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali urged the partner institutions of the IAG to coordinate with WHO to transfer their experience in polio to other emergency and epidemic situations, particularly in Africa.

Looted Lender for Sale as Afghanistan Seeks Buyer for Kabul Bank

For sale: One bank with 114 branches in war-torn country; defrauded out of almost all its money; occasional target of terrorists. Ready to bid? That’s what Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, is hoping. He’s seeking a buyer for Kabul Bank, once the country’s largest. The government took it over in 2010 after its owners were accused of embezzling $825 million. The privatization is a test for Ghani, who wants to show the foreign donors who provide most of his budget that he’s committed to fighting corruption. Mohammad Aqa Kohistani, director general of Afghanistan’s Treasury Department, said he has received four expressions of interest since starting the sales process in October, including three from foreign firms. He wouldn’t identify them.

IMF update on Afghan financial sector, Islamic banking regulations coming

As part of its review of the economic outlook for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the International Monetary Fund said financial intermediation in the country needs to become more efficient and broad-based. The IMF noted that the authorities expect that credit availability should increase from its low base, though they recognize that the low private credit reflects the scarcity of profitable and appropriately collateralized lending opportunities and structural challenges. The authorities wish to promote lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture while developing microfinance to support growth and job creation.

The Kabulbank scandal: Part III

The Kabulbank scam may be the largest theft of depositor money per capita the world has ever experienced. Kabulbank was Afghanistan’s largest bank when the central bank intervened on September 2010. It was put into receivership on April 20, 2011. New Kabul Bank (NKB) was established the same day by transferring old Kabulbank’s remaining deposit liabilities covered by an equivalent amount of claims on the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB). Kabulbank’s deposits had dropped from $1.3 billion eight months earlier to under $0.6 billion by the time of its good bank/bad bank split.

Bank scandal inquiry reopened by Afghan President

Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan's new president has re-opened an inquiry about the theft of almost $1bn from the Kabul Bank, which had cause much turmoil and is said to be one of the largest banking failures in the word. Thereby he fulfils his campaign promise to fighting corruption as a priority and to combatting corruption comprehensively.
The bank's founder Sher Khan Fernod and the former chief executive, Haji Khalil Ferozi, were jailed for five years for taking $810m of the $935m.

Islamic finance can foster social cohesion in Afghanistan

The attempts to offer conventional financial products in Afghanistan are perceived as yet another foreign attempt to challenge basic tenets of the Afghan society. This perception - shared not only in the countryside but also by sectors of urban society - is fuelling resentment and distrust among people. As a consequence, the already meager financing in the rural areas, where 75% of the population lives, is drying up and almost non-existent. This is undermining any meaningful economic and social take-off. Within this landscape, Islamic finance and takaful represent a necessary tool to address the population's discomfort with the conventional approach, ease cultural tensions and creatively mend social relations.


Technical report for free download regarding the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), the first lender to the agricultural sector in Afghanistan in over 25 years, which was initially designed to be a wholesale lender utilizing existing financial institutions as conduits to reach farmers.

While the original design did not emphasize on the provision of Islamic financial products, there was the implicit assumption that with the help of technical assistance and grants some financial intermediaries would do so.

Islamic finance a boost for USAID's Afghan farm fund

Sharia-compliant loans are beginning to play a role in Afghanistan's farm sector through a U.S.-funded aid programme. In 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) set up the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) which offers both conventional credit and Islamic financing. About $11 million of its loans approved between May 2011 and
April 2012, or 70 percent of them, were sharia-compliant. Juan Estrada-Valle, acting chief executive of the ADF, hopes that the credits will enable commercial farmers and other agribusinesses to grow at a rapid pace and contribute to the
growth of rural communities.

ECO bank to foster cooperation with Islamic banks - official

Mohammad Yahya Maroufi, secretary general of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), revealed that his organization has agreed to certify a bank to promote economic cooperation with banks in the Islamic countries.
He added that the plans include to open a trade market for its member states.
The ECO curent members are: Islamic Republic of Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Afghan Islamic Investment and Financial Cooperatives (IIFCs) Distributed Microfinance Loans Worth $7.4m in Last Third of 2010

World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) revealed that between September and December 2010, 30 Islamic investment and financial cooperatives (IIFCs) in Afghanistan distributed loans worth USD 7.4 million to approximately 8,000 farmers and other small and medium-scale business owners, increasing cooperative membership by 10 %.
WOCCU began developing IIFCs, Afghan-owned credit unions, in 2004.

OIC plans single board of trustees for funds

The formation of a single board of trustee including all donors and the establishment was advised to the Boards of Trustees of the Funds (BTF) of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Niger.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Chairman of the OIC BTF, held the OIC BTF meeting.

New horizons

Da Afghanistan Bank stated that it expects a new Islamic banking law to be enacted by September this year. The reason are the thirty years of war and insurgency that have reduced Afghanistan to a strong reliance on foreign aid.
The aim is to minimize the the nation's trust on overseas aid and rebuild the country's brittle economy.
The move would also draw billions in deposits from citizens wary of the conventional banking system. An Islamic banking law could brighten up the industry.

Afghan central bank sees Islamic banking law enacted in 2011

Afghanistan's central bank expects an Islamic banking law to be enacted by September, drawing billions in deposits from citizens wary of the conventional banking system.
The central bank's sharia board will meet Sunday to finalize the law.
Of 17 banks in Afghanistan, six have Islamic banking windows. The central bank hopes to approve the creation of fully fledged Islamic banks after the law is passed.

IDB to double Sukuk issues to $3.5 billion

IDb will more than double the size of bonds, or Sukuk, issued under an ongoing program to $3.5 billion to help meet financing needs mainly from flood-ravaged Pakistan.
In 2009, the Saudi-based triple-A lender issued an $850 million Sukuk which was the first tranche of a $1.5 billion bond. The issue was part of the $6 billion program it established to soften the impact of the financial crisis on its member countries.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Senegal, among the world's 50 poorest nations, are turning to Islamic banking to spur economic growth by encouraging people to take out loans and open savings accounts.


Crisis and opportunity

Afghanistan seems like a country which is tailor-made for Islamic finance, but it still doesn't have a single Islamic bank. However, moves are afoot to bring it to the country. Afghanistan has rarely been out of the news over the past nine years, as around 40 countries have been endeavouring to turn the country from one of the poorest to something more stable and prosperous. The economy, after years of desperate hardship has been growing at around 10 per cent a year, admittedly from a very low base.
The banking system has been created virtually from scratch and the Central Bank of Afghanistan or Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), as it is better known, is at the forefront of the change, although the transformation not has been without its challenges.
The country has 17 (mostly private) banks including a number of foreign banks such as Standard Chartered, Punjab National Bank, National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank (also from Pakistan) and Bank Alfalah.

Pak, Afghanistan pushing Islamic banking for growth

Islamabad —Pakistan, Afghanistan and Senegal, among the world’s 50 poorest nations, are turning to Islamic banking to spur economic growth by encouraging people to take out loans and open savings accounts. Outstanding domestic bank lending accounted for 3.5 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product in 2008, 25 percent in Senegal, 27 percent in Nigeria and 46 percent in Pakistan, according to data compiled by the World Bank. The rates compare with 224 percent in the U.S. and 115 percent in Malaysia, a global hub for finance that conforms with Shariah principles.
Developing Islamic nations have shunned banking in part because of the religion’s ban on interest, limiting access to funds for project financing and stunting business growth, according to the International Monetary Fund. Governments should improve regulations, products and institutions that comply with Shariah law to accelerate the industry’s development, Patrick Imam and Kangni Kpodar, economists at the IMF, said in a telephone interview from Washington on Sept. 14.

Shariah Banks Targeted to Lift Senegal, Pakistan Poverty: Islamic Finance

Senegal, Pakistan and Afghanistan, among the world’s 50 poorest nations, are turning to Islamic banking to spur economic growth by encouraging people to take out loans and open savings accounts. Developing Islamic nations have shunned banking in part because of the religion’s ban on interest, limiting access to funds for project financing and stunting business growth, according to the International Monetary Fund. The concept of risk-sharing in Shariah banking that prohibits interest payments would be more useful in Muslim countries because their economies are less diversified, the IMF economists said.

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