Nigeria develops its Islamic finance offering

Aug 22, 2013

Islamic finance in Nigeria could benefit from an 80 million-strong untapped market of Muslims without access to finance.

Islamic finance in Nigeria could benefit from an 80 million-strong untapped market of Muslims without access to finance.

According to Bashir Aliyu Umar,
special adviser on non-interest banking to the central bank governor,
"the potential is there but the market is negligible in Nigeria because we have only one Islamic bank and one window".

Even though the country counts the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa, Islamic finance institutions have been slow to develop.

The first bank specialised in the field, characterised among other things by its rejection of usury and interest, opened its doors in February 2012 in Abuja, the capital.

Jaiz Bank, which benefits from a near-monopoly, would like to open an additional 100 branches across the country in order to develop its own business and improve access to finance for Nigerians. Its number of branches across the country has already tripled over the past 18 months, from three to ten.

The Islamic development bank, which aims to be equivalent of the World Bank but for Islamic countries, is one of Jaiz Bank's key investors.

Stanbic IBTC, the Standard Bank subsidiary and Jaiz Bank's main competitor,
has shared even more ambitious plans: opening 165 new branches as quickly as possible.ADNFCR-2976-ID-801628172-ADNFCR