Nigeria 'to become Africa's Islamic finance hub'

Sep 29, 2010

Nigeria aims to become Africa's dominant force in Shari'ah-compliant banking and will begin the process by selling its first Islamic debt within the next year, the Governor of the country's central bank has revealed.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi stated Nigeria "will be the Islamic hub by 2020". Nigeria is home to 75 million Muslims - around half of its population - and Razia Khan, Head of Africa Research for Standard Chartered Bank, noted the majority of the nation's people are currently unbanked. This means it "has the right demographics to emerge as a hub for Islamic banking in sub-Saharan Africa", she remarked.

However, Nigeria's central bank has not yet decided on the size of the Islamic debt - or sukuk - it intends to sell, the news agency noted. Nigeria is not the only country on the continent reacting to the rising importance of Islamic finance products. South Africa recently made changes to its tax laws relating to Islamic banking, which, according to Grant Thornton's Tasneem Gangat, will help improve foreign investment in the country.