Responding to increased interest in developing Islamic finance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Central Bank of Tunisia (CBT), ) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), organized a three-day regional conference in Tunis on December 17 to exchange knowledge and share experience in building technical capacity in Islamic Banking and Sukuk Markets.
It has been reported that Tunisia plans to issue Islamic bonds early next year as the North African country seeks to reform its banking sector and diversify sources of funding, the central bank governor said on September 29th 2012.
"Tunisia will begin issuing Islamic bonds early next year ... This is part of the draft budget for 2013," Tunisian central bank governor Chadli Ayari told Reuters on the sidelines of a banking seminar.
It has been reported that supportive socio-political factors and economic incentives shouldaccelerate the growth of Islamic banking activities in North Africa from currentlow levels, according to a new report
published by Standard & Poor's Ratings.
Services titled "Prospects For Islamic Banking In North Africa Improve Following The Arab Spring." Islamic banking started to emerge in North Africa in the 1970s when Egypt was among the first countries in the Arab world to authorize the establishment of pioneer Islamic banks.
Arab Spring and Milton Friedman: Is reducing MENA’s unemployment a social responsibility of Islamic Finance?
There is buzz about the prospects for Islamic finance in parts of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) impacted by the Arab Spring. News reports suggest that, as a consequence of change in public policy, the market share of Islamic banking in Egypt will grow to “35 per cent in five years from 5 per cent now.” Much attention in Islamic finance circles is also falling on the relatively smaller markets, including Oman and Morocco. Observers, including researchers from Credit Suisse, are also pointing to Islamic finance as a potential spur to economic growth in the Arab Spring countries.
S&P Indices announced Friday the launch of the S&P/OIC COMCEC 50 Shariah Index, which is designed to measure the performance of 50 leading Shariah-compliant companies from the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The Index has been designed in partnership with the OIC.
A national council of Islamic economy has been founded in Tunisia with the aim of facilitating the development of the country’s Islamic financial system.
The council, whose board has 28 members, was officially launched on Thursday, May 10, businessesnews website reported.
The Tunisian government is looking to issue the country’s first sovereign Sukuk this year to finance the budget deficit incurred during last year’s uprising. Adnan Ahmed Yousif, the CEO of Al Baraka Banking Group, revealed that the government is currently in talks with banks with regards to a potential issuance. “They are very serious about it,” he added. Al Baraka Bank is also currently consulting the Tunisian government on Islamic finance, although it was not revealed if the bank is also providing consultation on the Sukuk.
The Arab Spring revolutions that have so far seen the toppling of three of the Maghreb’s most intransigent dictators caught spark in Tunisia and it appears the country is about to trigger another revolution in the region: Islamic finance.
A poll released by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center last Friday shows that the majority of Tunisians, 61% feel that Shari’ah should be a source of legislation, but not the only one.
Retail and investment banks that offer sharia-compliant services are savouring the opportunities emerging in post-revolutionary countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The prospect of providing budgetary support for governments and the increased power of moderate Islamist parties bode well for the development of sharia-compliant finance, bankers say. In all three countries, Islamist groups were suppressed for decades and Islamic finance struggled to gain traction.
Sharia-compliant funds had been proving increasingly popular until the global financial crisis and then the Arab Spring frightened off investors and stymied private equity activity in the Middle East.
Fundraising volumes have collapsed, with not a single sharia fund raised so far this year, acacording to data provider Preqin.