|Two-day Oman Islamic Banking and Finance Conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt from June 5-6, 2012 under the title ‘Building a Growth for Islamic Banking and Finance in Oman through improved regulation, innovation, standardization and best practices, according to a press release.Mohammad Harris, one of the pioneers of Islamic banking in Pakistan and Kenya, will deliver his insights on the successful implementation of Islamic banking in Africa at the conference. Harris has played a key role in establishing the first Islamic banks in Pakistan and Kenya.
Harris has worked as deputy general manager and head of corporate & SME banking, structured finance and product development at Gulf African Bank (GAB), the first Sharia compliant bank in Kenya and is expected to join soon one of the major banks here in Oman.
His responsibilities included developing and implementing business strategies to help establish the bank as a leader in Islamic banking and in providing innovative and structured products to meet customer requirements.
Islamic banking commenced in Kenya in 2008, when the government allowed Kenya Commercial Bank to operate its Amana Islamic suite, the country’s first full-fledged Islamic bank, the press release added.
With the establishment of GAB, both these banks contribute to 1 per cent of the banking sector’s net assets.
With over 50 per cent (540 million) of the population falling under the Muslim category, there is an immense opportunity for an untapped market in Africa, where the option of Islamic banking is concerned.
According to a report by KFH Research, the continent has seen the surge of Islamic banking attributed to increasing awareness in Sub-Sahara Africa on the back of the growing trade interactions with the Middle Eastern countries. Demand for Sharia compliant products and services by Muslims in keeping with religious beliefs, demand for risk averse banking approaches in light of the global financial crisis and measures taken by the government to review and reform banking laws allowing the setting up of Islamic banking institution.