NAIROBI Oct 14 Kenya launched an office
dedicated to oversee its fledgling Islamic finance industry and
help prepare for the issue a debut sovereign shariah-compliant
bond, known as a sukuk.
With the government estimating that 11 percent of the
population is Muslim, Kenya has seen the emergence of Islamic
institutions in recent years, including two banks, five Islamic
banking windows offered by commercial lenders, insurance firms
and a unit trust fund.
The government in the East African nation wants to build up
the industry as part of a long-term plan to turn Nairobi into an
International Financial Centre.
"We have a real opportunity to attract local investment and
capital inflows both from Muslim and non-Muslim locally and
internationally," Kamau Thugge, the principal secretary at the
Treasury, said in a statement.
The statement called the new body the Islamic Finance
Project Management Office.
Finance that complies with Islamic sharia law shuns payment
of interest rate in favour of sharing profit.
Kenya, which has applied to become a member of the Islamic
Financial Services board, is carrying out legal and policy
reforms to facilitate the growth of the industry.
"After the implementation of these reforms, among other
things, the government will consider issuing a sovereign Sukuk,"
(Reporting by Duncan Miriri)