This year's rush by top-rated non-Muslim countries to tap the burgeoning Islamic finance market may not be repeated next year but a new crop of sovereign entrants, mostly from emerging markets, is waiting around the corner.
The United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Luxembourg - all ranked at least AA by rating agencies - issued sharia-compliant financial instruments, or sukuk, for the first time in 2014. They gave a huge boost to a market which was once just seen as a funding tool for borrowers from the Gulf and Muslim countries in southeast Asia.
African governments are looking to sharia-compliant financial markets to attract investment from the Middle East. The trend is just gathering strength, and experts expect more funds to flow into infrastructure and other major projects.
The latest wave of finance to reach African corporations and governments is coming from the Middle East, with an increasingly large sharia-compliant component.
Africa is for the first time embracing large-scale Islamic finance as countries seek to tap cash-rich Middle Eastern investors to finance their large infrastructure programmes.
The market for sukuk, or Islamic bonds, received a boost this month after Nigeria became the first major economy in sub-Saharan Africa to use the $100bn a year Islamic market, followed days later by Senegal.
Over the last decade, trade between African countries and the rest of the world has grown significantly and, in particular, charting a 170% increase in trade with the GCC.
The ongoing shift by African countries from being aid-dependant to increasing trade and investment ties with the Middle East has positioned Islamic finance to play a key role in facilitating further increases in trade and investment flows between Africa and the Middle East.
Senegal is trying to position itself as a center for Islamic finance in West Africa, where about 52 percent of the population is Muslim, as the government pursues changes that will enable the first sales of sukuk.
Senegal still needs to adjust its policies to be able to sell debt that complies with Islam’s ban on interest after postponing a plan last year to sell such bonds, said Mouhamadou Lamine Mbacke, managing director of the African Institute of Islamic Finance, a Dakar-based company that advises governments and financial institutions and is working with the authorities on the rule changes. About 95 percent of the nation’s population of 12.7 million is Muslim.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector ( ICD ), a private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group, is opening two new Islamic banks in Mali and Benin in 2013, to provide Islamic financial services in the areas currently greatly underserved, Khaled Al-Aboodi, chief executive officer and general manager of ICD , announced this week.
Syed Alwi bin Mohamed Sultan, the Kuala Lumpur-based head of Islamic banking for Asia Pacific at BNP Paribas Malaysia Bhd., discusses the trends in Islamic finance at the World Islamic Banking Conference in Singapore.
“There’s greater diversification of the investor base. What we have seen from recent issuance is that there are greater non-Islamic investors coming in to accept sukuk or invest in sukuk instruments. The Khazanah Nasional Dim Sum sukuk witnessed more than 50 percent from Singapore and Hong Kong investors.
Takaful Insurance companies around the world especially in the Middle-East, North Africa and South Asia have set a target of $12billion USD premium generation from takaful insurance for 2011 as the demand by Muslim populations across the globe for the products are on the rise. Takaful insurance operators at the sixth Annual World Takaful Conference held in Dubai predicted a $12 billion USD premium income from Takaful insurance this year. The $12billion projected premium from takaful insurance represents 31 per cent increase from the $9.15 billion income generated from the Islamic products in 2010
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.
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.