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Dubai Islamic Bank plans African expansion after planting Kenyan roots

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has plans to solidify its foundations in the East African Islamic banking sector. Comments from DIB chairman Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani confirmed last week that the bank would be aiming to expand after settling in its new Kenya base.

DIB was granted permission to enter the market by the Central Bank of Kenya in May 2017. The regulator used the new entry to highlight Kenya’s growing status as a “premier regional financial services hub”.

Until the DIB entry, Kenya had only two full-fledged Islamic institutions: Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank. The country also has one takaful Islamic insurance firm, a Shari’ah-compliant mutual fund and two cooperatives.

Five conventional lenders offer Shari’ah-compliant services in the county, including Barclays Africa.

“Our international expansion is on track as the bank officially received its licence in April from the Central Bank of Kenya to start our operations,” said Al Shaibani, according to Business Daily Africa.

“This paves the way for the bank’s aspirations in Africa and proliferation of Islamic finance across Asia, Middle East and the East African Belt.”

Al Shaibani was ranked the most influential non-royal official in the UAE by Wall Street Journal in 2010. He is the director general of The Ruler’s Court and CEO and executive director of the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Islamic finance in Kenya

Around 11% of Kenya’s 44 million people are counted as Muslim. Despite this, convincing the government to embrace the fast-growing Islamic finance sector has been tough for regulators.

The country’s ongoing issues with Islamic fundamentalist groups, include al-Shabaab, have hindered progress.

In December 2016 the country joined the Islamic Financial Services Board. The body, based in Malaysia, regulates and promotes Islamic financial services across the globe.

Kenya’s treasury ministry also recently unveiled new plans to make mainstream Islamic finance a major part of the countries growth strategy.

Henry Rotich, finance minister for Kenya, said in March that the government would propose alterations to financial law and issue new regulations to facilitate Shari’ah finance.

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