Leadership (Abuja)

Africa: Global Experts Meet to Expand Islamic Financing

Financial regulators, experts, jurists, academics and stakeholders across the world will meet to brainstorm on how to strategically promote growth and realign the practices of Islamic finance and economics with a view to opening new frontiers for the growth of the industry.

The 4th Langkawi Islamic Finance and Economics (LIFE-4) Global Forum, which is being organised by the Insaniah University, College, Malaysia, in collaboration with Deloitte, Islamic Development Bank, IBFIM-Malaysia and Rayyan Ventures Ltd, will provide a global platform to discuss key issues around the competitiveness, growth and sustainability of Islamic finance.

LIFE-4 Global Forum is scheduled for mid-February 2013 at Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Langkawi Island, in Malaysia. The theme of the forum is 'Islamic Financial Planning and Wealth Management as the New Frontier for Global Islamic Banking and Finance Industry.

Managing director, Rayyan Ventures Ltd, Nigeria's partner to LIFE-4 Global Forum, Alhaji Idris Usman, said the forum would brainstorm on how to reposition Islamic banking and finance for sustainable growth over the coming decades.

According to him, the global nature and the quality of participation at the forum makes it a viable platform for the immediate strategic efforts to consolidate the asset size, market share, overall growth and competitiveness of services of Islamic banking and finance.

He noted that LIFE-4 Global Forum would also focus on how to create more wealth in the system through Shari'a-compliant financial planning and wealth management techniques while providing scholars opportunity to update their knowledge with latest know-how and skills.

He pointed out that as Nigeria makes efforts to develop its alternative finance industry, the country stands to benefit tremendously from the LIFE-4 in terms of practical knowledge and experience from other operators and regulators around the world.

LEADERSHIP reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have introduced frameworks for Islamic banking and asset management. Nigeria is working towards issuing its first Sukuk-Islamic bond. The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has recently launched an Islamic equity index to provide ethical investors with baseline for tracking, measuring and managing their assets.

The first wholly Islamic bank licensed by the CBN, Jaiz Bank Plc, has commenced operations while other Nigerian banks, including Stanbic IBTC Bank, run Islamic finance windows. There are also many Nigerian mutual funds based partly or fully on Islamic finance and economics rules.

Alluding to the successes of previous LIFE events, Usman outlined that more than 500 leading stakeholders, including central banks, securities commissions, ministries of finance, Islamic banking and finance association, banks, financial firms, educational and research institutions, auditing firms and legal firms are expected at the LIFE-4.

"LIFE-4 would create a global platform where all stakeholders could meet and brainstorm on operational challenges and opportunities in the Islamic finance and economics industry. The forum would provide supports for both operators and regulators in fashioning strategies to move the industry forward," Usman said.

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