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Islamic Development Bank to finance African #infrastructure projects

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has approved a multi-million-dollar package of financing to boost infrastructure investments in seven African nations. Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Tunisia and Suriname will benefit from a share of the total $805 million deals for investments in energy, housing, agriculture and water supply. IDB president Dr Bandar Hajjar signed the agreements with the finance ministers of the beneficiary countries. Cote d'Ivoire will receive $265m for the Cocody Bay project and vocational training. Mali will receive $166m for the country’s Sirakoro power plant project and Burkina Faso will receive $104m for a power project. Guinea is to receive $16m for a rural water supply project and Tunisia will receive $80m for agricultural development. Senegal and Suriname will receive a total of $173 for housing projects.

GCC financial regulators encouraged to promote use of sukuk to fund infrastructure

The value of sukuk being issued in the GCC has been falling, but there is still opportunity in the market, Zamir Iqbal, lead financial sector specialist at the World Bank said. The potential lies in the huge infrastructure financing, but a proper legal and tax environment for the structuring of the sukuk and the SPV laws must be established. There’s already excess liquidity in the market, and banks are looking for high-quality, highly-rated sukuk, Iqbal noted. The International Monetary Fund said in November that the GCC region was suffering from a lack of availability of Sharia'a compliant financial instruments, or tradable assets, leading to excess liquidity and to an uneven playing field for Islamic banks.

Lloyd's of London 'in talks with regulators' to open Malaysian Islamic insurance office

Lloyd's is in talks with market regulators in Malaysia to set up an office dedicated to takaful. The planned office will also enable Lloyd's to target Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which together with Malaysia are the largest global markets for Islamic insurance, the marketplace's director of global markets, Vincent Vandendael, said. Lloyd's opened an office in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) earlier this year. Lloyd's has historically provided cross-border reinsurance in Malaysia as a foreign reinsurer, but also has a 'tier 2' licence allowing its syndicates to set up service companies in the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (IBFC).

Islamic Development Bank and Gates Foundation approve US$718m investment in development projects

More than US$718 million will be invested in roads, power generation, water supply, sanitation, agriculture and rural development projects in a number of countries after the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved a funding partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The projects will be in Turkey, the Sultanate of Brunei, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin. Technical assistance will also be given to projects in Bahrain. The first tranche of funds under the agreement will see $100m worth of grants issued before the end of this year. Operations are expected to begin in 2016.

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