By Dipo Olowookere
For two days; October 17 and 18, 2016, the second edition of the Africa Islamic Finance Forum took place at the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire.
The forum was designed specifically for the benefit of local and international market players to explore development opportunities in Islamic finance in Africa, concentrating on building the market and exploring its exceptional potential through inward investment and international collaboration.
The two-day event featured extensive discussions on investment opportunities in key African markets.
The event commenced with welcome addresses from the Minister of Planning and Development, IDB Governor in Cote D’Ivoire; the CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD); the director-general of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa; the governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).
The forum was inaugurated by Cote d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister, Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan.
The first day of the intellectual discourse deliberated on Africa’s blueprint for Islamic finance development and the outlook for the industry in 2017.
An exclusive roundtable then followed to discuss Africa’s value proposition, opportunistic ventures and prospects for sovereign Sukuk issuances, as well as touching on the region’s current regulatory environment and the changes needed that will allow Islamic finance to flourish.
The next segment of the forum deliberated on the healthy pipeline of infrastructure projects in Africa and the role of Sukuk in financing such projects, before wrapping up the day with the subject of banking innovation and how financial technology could spur the growth of Islamic banking.
The second day of this prestigious event continued with a session that focused on Cote d’Ivoire and the investment opportunities that the country has to offer to Islamic investors, as panellists discussed some of the promising sectors and asset classes in the West African nation.
In addition, ICD and the Stock Exchange (BRVM) launched the first Sukuk listing in UEMOA market.
The final session of the two-day forum then took a closer look at the current Sukuk issuances out of BCEAO member countries, and market challenges that are influencing the growth prospects of the Islamic debt instrument.
The Africa Islamic Finance Forum 2016 provided an unparalleled platform for networking opportunities as well as the centre stage to be at the very forefront of Africa’s flourishing Islamic finance sector.