Green sukuks (Islamic bonds) could support environment and climate projects with countries needing to pump at least $23 billion up to 2023, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The Washington-based institution is also working to build the necessary infrastructure for the issuing of such sukuks, IFC Representative in Saudi Arabia Walid Al-Murshed told an Islamic finance conference in the Southern Egyptian port of Sharm El-Sheikh.

“Green sukuks carry massive opportunities…at least $23 billion is needed to fund projects in the green economy, environment and climate during 2023,” Murshed said during a panel on instruments to finance private sector projects on Thursday.

“We are working to set up a suitable infrastructure for bond issuing and I urge all those interested to cooperate in the development of Islamic capital markets…there is also a need for pension funds to start focusing on sukuks to diversify business,” the IFC official said.

Another speaker said there has been a steady rise in Islamic investment in Africa over the past years but added that such investments are dominated by a few countries.

“When we look at the investment map in Africa, we see that it is dominated by Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa although some countries have a long experience in business environment growth such as Morocco,” said Eman Wehbe, a partner in the Growth in Africa Fund (GIAF).

She said there are expectations of “strong interest” in Africa projects by investors from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)