The Islamic Banking Summit Africa (IBSA) was recently launched at a ceremony in the Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Djibouti, with the aim of “capturing the Africa opportunity in Islamic finance.” The event attracted over 200 leaders in the international Islamic banking and finance industry to engage in critical discussions on the subject. The two-day summit featured a special address by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, and a keynote address by Djama M. Haid, Governor of the Central Bank of Djibouti, the key sponsors.
Participants analyzed the key challenges standing in the way of Islamic banking in Africa. Dr Suleiman Walhad, Chief Executive Officer of Dahabshiil Bank International, said: “Africa has a population climbing to some one billion people and a substantial number of the continent’s citizens are Muslims. This large population needs to be served and it is on the onus of Islamic finance institutions and industry leaders to bring Islamic financial services to the continent and its large Muslim population…”
A similar view was expressed by Asad A. Ahmed, Managing Director of Gulf African bank. “The presence of a large unbanked Muslim population, as well as Muslims who would prefer a choice aligned to their faith, offers tremendous potential for the growth of the Islamic banking and finance industry in the African markets,” said Ahmed.
Speaking to the media present at the event, David McLean, Chief Executive of the Islamic Banking Summit Africa (IBSA) noted that “Africa is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for investments that are Shari’ah compliant.
Africa has now been repositioned as the third fastest growing region in the world, after the Middle East and Asia. However, to tap into the tremendous potential, the regional industry must overcome certain challenges which include lack of Shari’ah compliant investment vehicles, fragile legal and regulatory frameworks and most importantly the lack of awareness by the majority of consumers.”