16 June 2015
The Bahrain-based Islamic bank is looking at opportunities in Kenya, the CEO said.
Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to launch an Islamic bank in Morocco early next year after receiving approval from the country's central bank, and is looking to expand into East Africa, the chief executive said.
The new bank will be equally owned by Al Baraka and Banque marocaine du commerce extérieur (BMCE), and will start operations in the first quarter of 2016, CEO Adnan Ahmed Yousif told TR Zawya.
He said the new bank would open 20 branches in its first five years of business.
"Morocco was one of the last markets to approve Islamic banking, and the Moroccan market is large, promising and organized in terms of legislation and the legal and banking system," Yousif said.
Last November, Morocco's parliament gave final approval to an Islamic finance bill that allows foreign banks and local lenders to set up Islamic banks in the North African country.
Yousif said that Morocco had benefited from the development of legislative, technical and supervisory frameworks for Islamic finance in Bahrain and other countries, and was therefore able to put in place laws that would support rapid growth of its Islamic finance sector.
With Morocco, Al Baraka will now operate across 16 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The chief executive said the group is considering expanding into East Africa because the banking system there is similar to that of the Gulf region, and was currently exploring opportunities in Kenya.
He said the bank also plans to grow its operations in Egypt by adding 20 more branches over the next three years and focusing on developing sharia-compliant products for its customers.
"The Egyptian sukuk market has the potential to bring in between USD 5 billion and USD 10 billion annually for the government if the process of issuances is successful," he said.
Egypt's finance minister said in April that a draft sukuk law had been submitted to the Islamic Development Bank for advice, and that he hoped Egypt would issue a sukuk at the beginning of the 2015/2016 fiscal year as part of the government's efforts to rebuild the economy.
Al Baraka is listed in the Bahrain and Nasdaq Dubai stock exchanges, and caters to around 1 billion customers worldwide.
© Zawya 2015