As the global business environment adapts to the new normal of Brexit, the Trump presidency and the implications of a post-oil economy, Sub‐Saharan Africa continues to be an increasingly important component of global economic growth. In particular, the expansion of Islamic ﬁnance in the region is providing new growth opportunities and propelling stronger trade & investment ties across Sub‐Saharan Africa and internationally. For Uganda, specifically, 2016 has been a landmark year for Islamic finance as important new legislation has moved its way through the legal enactment process and 2017 promises to be even more significant for the progress of Islamic finance on the continent.
1st December 2016, Kampala, Uganda: The inaugural 2016 international gathering of the Sub-Saharan Africa Islamic Finance Convention, the first of its kind to be held in Uganda, was convened by Ethico Live UK in collaboration with ABL Dunamis and supported by the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce in Uganda (ICCIU). The convention attracted over 200 delegates and speakers from key regional and international markets, including: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the UK, India, Ethiopia, Chad, Rwanda, Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
The purpose of the Sub-Saharan Africa Islamic Finance Convention is to provide a strong platform for the growth of the Islamic finance industry that will help to further establish Uganda as an exciting investment destination and also enable the development of the broader Sub-Saharan Africa market. The event was attended by several high-level delegations from the Ministry of Finance in Uganda and Bank of Uganda as well as major private sector financial institutions from across Africa and internationally.
One of the major outcomes of last year’s convention was the publication of The Kampala Islamic Finance Declaration 2016, which is a unique document focused on advancing the dialogue with the broader economic stakeholder community beyond the confines of the conference room. The Declaration built on the core objectives of the convention, which included: advancing the key opportunities within the Islamic banking sector in the region; creating consumer awareness about Islamic banking; deepening the talent pool in Islamic finance on the continent; attracting investors to Islamic financial institutions; facilitating meetings and networking to create relationships for capacity building between experienced international players and emerging African leaders; dispelling the myth that Islamic banking is only for Muslims; providing a platform for policy makers and regulators to communicate to domestic and foreign investors in both the private and public sectors; and establishing Uganda as a meaningful hub for Islamic finance in the region.
2017 promises to be an even more dynamic year that will firmly establish the role that Islamic finance (including newly enabled Islamic insurance legislation) can play in positioning Uganda and the larger region to more effectively tap into FDI from key sources across the Middle East as well as the broader OIC markets. Islamic finance mechanisms, in particular Sukuk, are well placed to meet the funding needs of large-scale infrastructure requirements on the continent and can bring new sources of capital to the local markets. In addition, Islamic banking provides a powerful catalyst for improving financial inclusion across the region, including technology innovations such as mobile money that will help boost consumer banking penetration on the continent.
Against this dynamic backdrop Ethico Live and ABL Dunamis, joint organizers of The Sub-Saharan Islamic Finance Convention, are delighted to announce that the 2nd annual edition of this important gathering will take place on the 6th of April 2017 at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel in Uganda, and will focus on further advancing these opportunities.
Speaking at the announcement of the launch of the 2017 edition of The Sub-Saharan Islamic Finance Convention, David McLean, President of Ethico Live, said that: “Africa is expected to see a massive population boom, with favourable demographics which will help drive further demand for Islamic financial products and services on the continent. However, much work still needs to be done if the Islamic finance industry is to deliver on its potential in Africa. Nevertheless, 2017 promises to be an even more dynamic year that will ﬁrmly establish the role that Islamic ﬁnance can play in enabling key African markets to advance their strategic economic priorities through Islamic finance. The Sub-Saharan Africa Islamic Finance Convention 2017 is an important tool for furthering debate and accelerating the progress of the industry across the continent and, following the success of the first year of the Sub-Saharan Africa Islamic Finance Convention, it is my pleasure to announce that we will be continuing our collaboration with ABL Dunamis to make the 2nd edition in April 2017 an even more relevant and outcome-focused platform for Islamic finance in Africa.”
Echoing these sentiments, Abubaker B. Mayanja, Managing Director of ABL Dunamis Ltd. said that: “2016 has been a transformational year for Islamic Finance in Uganda. Uganda may be somewhat late to adopt the Islamic banking model but the country has an important strategic advantage of being a member of the IDB group and this will over time result in long term capital from IDB giving it an advantage in the race to become an important hub for Islamic finance in Africa. Islamic finance offers an opportunity for Uganda to tap into Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from across the Middle East as well as broader OIC markets, while the Sukuk instrument is well suited to meet the funding needs of high-priority infrastructure projects on the continent as the instrument can provide state institutions with access to a new international investor base and broaden their sources of fiscal funding. In addition, Islamic banking provides a powerful catalyst for improving ﬁnancial inclusion in Africa that will help boost consumer banking penetration. We look forward to welcoming an even larger delegation of international industry leaders to at the Sub Saharan Africa Islamic Finance Convention in Kampala in April 2017”.