Nigeria eyes role as African Islamic banking hub

LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria wants to establish itself as the African hub for Islamic banking and is working on a regulatory framework to try to emulate the success of the industry in Malaysia, Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi said.

Nigeria is home to the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa, with around half of its 150 million people members of the Islamic faith. It is also home to one of Africa’s fastest growing consumer and corporate banking sectors.

Sanusi — the grandson of a former Emir of Kano, one of Nigeria’s most respected Muslim leaders — said Nigeria was playing an active role on the Islamic Financial Services Board and was studying various regulatory regimes around the world.

“We start from the premise that if we are going to go into Islamic banking, we are not interested in licensing just one bank,” Sanusi said in an interview in his Lagos office as part of the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

“Given the population of Nigeria, we think that Nigerian can be the African hub for Islamic banking,” he said.

Islamic finance is estimated to be a $1 trillion global industry, but ratings agency Moody’s forecasts that the industry could hit $5 trillion over time. Continue reading