Dar Es Salaam — SHARIA banking products were officially launched in Dar es Salaam on last night, with the government challenging bankers to strive for more education to the masses on the sector.
Minister for Planning and Economic Affairs, Mr Mustafa Mkullo said when launching the services in Dar es Salaam that banks should also take their services to rural areas where the majority of Tanzanians dwell.
"People in rural areas have to be educated on banking because due to habits it would be hard for them to believe in banking their money if there is no proper sensitization and education," he said.
He also challenged Stanbic Bank, a member of the Standard Bank Group, the leading emerging markets bank with the largest presence in Africa, to also educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about Shariah banking which he said es not familiar to many.
The Minister maintained that the government was happy to having Shariah banking in the country and that there are several requests for operating similar services tendered by other banks.
The Managing Director of Stanbic, Mr Bashir Aawale, explained that Shariah banking is a system of banking that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law.
"In practice, it prohibits the payment or acceptance of interest fees for the lending and acceptance of money,"said Mr Bashir, adding that It also prohibits Muslims from investing in businesses that provide goods or services that are considered contrary to the Islamic principles.
In practice, Islam prohibits the taking and giving of interest, there should be no gambling (speculation) and no investments in prohibited industries.
He said the first products that will be offered under this proposition will be a transactional product 'TransactPlus' and current account, which is 100% Shariah compliant and provides the same convenient features of conventional accounts, including internet banking, Visa electron or Maestro debit card and prepaid airtime services.
Mr Awale said Tanzania is an important market for Standard Bank as the gateway to East Africa and we are proud to be the first bank in Africa to offer our first Shariah banking product in this market, where about 50% of the population is Muslim.
"There is a substantial untapped market among Muslims who make up a large portion of the population in Africa and Standard Bank is mindful of the fact that to be truly an African bank, it needs to ensure that there are products in the market that cater for them," says Terry Moodley, Chief Executive, Personal and Business Banking, Standard Bank Africa.
As the leading bank in Africa, Standard Bank is constantly looking for ways to provide banking products and services that allow all customers in Africa to save and transact. It also aims to demonstrate its confidence in the future of Africa and other emerging markets by making the right connections with its customers and stakeholders across the continent.
"Standard Bank plans to roll out its Sharia banking value proposition to all other markets in the coming months," concluded Moodley.
Standard Bank trading as Stanbic Bank is part of one of Africa's leading financial services groups, the Standard Bank Group Limited, which is based in South Africa and listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.
The group trades under the name Stanbic Bank in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is known as Standard Bank in Angola, the DRC, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Lesotho, Mauritius and Mozambique.
The group has the largest presence in Africa with the Group total assets of approximately 182 billion USD as at December 2009 and employing about 35,000 people worldwide.