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Islamic Finance Vital to Nation’s Economic Growth—Report

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Sukuk Islamic bonds

By Dipo Olowookere

A report jointly released by Thomson Reuters and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has stressed the role Islamic finance plays in the sustaining the growth of economy of a country.

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, while ICD is the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

The key findings of the fifth edition of the Islamic Finance Development Report and Indicator (IFDI) were released at the World Islamic Banking conference (WIBC) 2017 held in Bahrain.

The report studied key trends across five indicators used to measure the development of the $2.2 trillion Islamic finance industry which are: Quantitative Development, Knowledge, Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Awareness. It also compiled extensive statistics on the industry from 131 countries and highlighted the best-performing countries within each key area of performance.

The IFDI global average value, which acts as a barometer of the overall industry’s development, recovered to 9.9 in 2017 from 8.8 in 2016. This reflected improved performances in each of the five indicators. Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE lead the IFDI country rankings for the fifth consecutive year, while the GCC remains the leading regional hub for the industry.

Countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Europe, East and West Africa saw notable improvements in their IFDI values, demonstrating the continued growth of Islamic finance in non-core markets.

The report also highlights how Islamic finance can help countries adapt to difficult economic conditions.

Nadim Najjar, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “We have seen that the Islamic finance industry can serve as a strategic tool for policymakers for sustainable growth in order to cope with the aftermath of the economic slowdown that impacted markets such as the Middle East.

“Some markets had noteworthy improvements in their IFDI values when they have improved or introduced Islamic finance to fit their economic needs and attract investments like Morocco, Tunisia and Iraq.”

Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO of ICD, said: “Incorporating Islamic finance in different strategies can be seen in the many steps taken by governments across different IFDI indicators. This was noticed when some authorities intervened in Islamic social funds management, raised literacy in the industry among potential market players through formal education systems, organized roadshows targeting potential market players, or built a roadmap to plot development of the overall industry.”

Islamic finance sector recovers strength and assets continue to grow

Quantitative Development, which measures the performance of Islamic financial institutions and capital markets, advanced the most of the five indicators as a partial recovery in oil prices helped Islamic financial institutions and mutual funds regain strength.

Sukuk grew least of the Islamic finance sectors as some large sovereign issuers resorted to conventional bonds to ease the issuance process and lower costs.

Yet even here, sukuk showed signs of promise as new players came to market and Saudi Arabia emerged as a new sovereign sukuk giant.

There was also an increase in consolidation within the industry. Mergers were agreed between Islamic financial institutions in the GCC, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia that are likely to strengthen their competitive edge.

The reversion to strength after last year’s oil price-led downturn saw total Islamic finance industry assets rise 7 percent to $2.2 trillion in 2016 and it is expected that assets will continue to rise, to $3.8 trillion by 2022.

Governments looking to improve Islamic finance education and literacy

The Knowledge indicator, which encompasses education and research, also edged higher in the latest report.

There were 677 Islamic finance education providers in 2016, of which 191 provided a total of 322 Islamic finance degrees. Governments in Bahrain, Malaysia and Indonesia made particular efforts to push Islamic finance education and literacy.

Governments improving regulatory regimes to encourage industry

As governments sought to push Islamic finance to help revive economies hit by the fall in oil prices, Governance gained the most of the five indicators. Each of its Regulation, Shariah Governance and Corporate Governance sub-indicators showed improvement.

The number of Shariah scholars increased, and several countries began to push for external Shariah scholars and centralized Shariah boards. There were 44 countries in 2016 with specific Islamic finance regulations. Many of these pushed for takaful regulations or tax concessions for sukuk.

Corporate social responsibility another strong gainer, though disclosure still too low

The indicator for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was another strong gainer, with improvements in both performance and disclosure by Islamic financial institutions.

The total CSR funds disbursed by different Islamic financial intuitions increased 18 percent over the year, to $683 million.

The number of institutions reporting CSR activities also increased, but the global average for reporting disclosure remains low. Despite this, there are developments that will contribute to a stronger CSR in the future including interventions in managing zakat, waqf and charity by the governments of the UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Conferences and seminars exploring mutual values of Islamic and ethical finance

As governments turned their attention towards Islamic social financing, a growing number of conferences and seminars explored the common ground between Islamic and ethical finance, particularly in Europe. This helped the Awareness indicator to edge higher, despite a slowdown in growth of news articles on the industry.

Other popular themes of conferences and seminars included socially responsible investing, sukuk, and microfinance. The rise in number of Islamic microfinance events was particularly noticeable in Africa.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Experts Foresees NGX Technology Board Deepening Capital Market

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Cross Deals

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Experts in the Nigerian financial markets have expressed optimism about the proposed NGX Technology Board’s positive impact on the capital market and the economy.

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited plans to establish this platform to attract the listing of technology companies, giving them an avenue to raise funds to expand their operations.

On Thursday, October 6, 2022, the exchange held a seminar themed Enabling the Next Wave of Growth for Technology Companies in Africa. It was held to allow stakeholders to discuss ways to make things better for players in the sector.

Speakers at the event included the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation, Mr Oswald Osaretin Guobadia; Kendall Ananyi, Chief Executive Officer, Tizeti; Vice President, Cardinalstone, Mrs Onyebuchim Obiyemi; CEO, Opay, Mr Olu Akanmu; Managing Director, Nigerian Capital Market Institute, Timi Agama; Head, Financial Markets Support and Development Division, Financial Markets Department, CBN, Mr  Demenongu J. Yanfa; and President, Pension Funds Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Oguche Agudah.

Others were the CEO, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, Jalo Waziri; Partner, Fund the Gap Alliance, Segun Cole; Associate Dean, Lagos Business School, LBS, Prof. Olayinka David-West; Representative of London Stock Exchange and Director, Tech Sector Specialist, Shah Neil; Co-Founder/COO, One Watt Solar Director, Jubril Adeojo; CEO Future Africa, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Chief Growth officer, Halo Invest, Nnenna Onyewuchi.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NGX, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, represented by NGX board member, Mrs Angela Adebayo, said that Nigeria is home to several unicorns like Flutterwave, Andela, Jumia, Opay which have valuations surpassing $1 billion.

“As a sustainable exchange championing Africa’s growth, NGX is positioned to support the growth of the next wave of technology companies.

“It is stimulating the capital market, providing a tailored platform for tech companies in Nigeria and wider Africa to access growth capital whilst providing exit opportunities for all investors.

“The next wave of growth for home-bred technology companies needs to be anchored on sustainability, agility, collaboration and digital innovation, and these are elements that NGX represents,” he said.

Director-General of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, represented by Dayo Obisan, Executive Commissioner, Operations, SEC, while delivering his goodwill message, noted that with the several developments recorded in the technology space, Africa remains a continent with the highest potential when it comes to tech and innovations and as such, its ability to determine its future digitally must be accelerated by strengthening its technological capabilities.

According to him, “Africa has the potential to grow into a technological giant with the right enablement, and SEC will support laudable initiatives aimed at improving on the capacity of our market to develop a robust ecosystem for the Nigerian capital market.”

Also, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, while speaking on the proposed NGX Technology Board, said, “The exchange, in conjunction with other major stakeholders, including SEC, CBN, CSCS and PenOp, are working tirelessly to launch and on-board a new asset class.

“The specialised technology board aims to encourage the listing of companies in the technology space, provide increased transparency, and visibility on foreign investment activities in tech companies and local tech startups.”

Giving the keynote address, the Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, CBN, Mrs Aisha Ahmad, noted that tech had grown from an enabler of business to a fully-fledged sector as some of the largest companies in the world like Meta and Google.

“Africa is a $2.7 trillion economy, and for this growth to translate into broader economic impacts, we need more local investor participation. I’m particularly excited about NGX’s Technology Board plan, which will help grow the listings of Nigerian and African tech companies. It will aid price discovery of tech industry valuations and channel capital to tech and other sectors,” she said.

Panellists at the first panel titled The Path to Tech Listings – Leveraging Capital Market for Exponential Growth agreed that the proposed launch of NGX Technology Board is timely as it addresses challenges startups face with funding and capital formation during their developmental stage.

Additionally, they noted that having major stakeholders like NGX, SEC and CBN champion the Board would attract foreign investor participation, especially in terms of liquidity.

The second panel, themed Beyond Tech – Regulation as an Enabler for Technology Board Listings and Investor Protection, highlighted policies and the right standards as key factors in creating an enabling environment for tech listings and investor protection.

The panellists noted that regulators should be concerned about the companies listed, the governance structure, evaluations, returns and their positive impact on Nigeria’s economy, such as introducing new founders to the market and creating employment for Nigerians.

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Economy

Helicarrier Acquires Stake in Accrue to Drive Crypto, Stock Investment

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Accrue Savings

By Adedapo Adesanya

Helicarrier, the owning company of Buycoins and Sendcash, has announced that it has completed the signing of definitive agreements to acquire a significant equity interest in Accrue.

As part of this agreement, Buycoins Basic will be transitioning into Accrue effective immediately.

This means Buycoins Basic will now be onboarded on Accrue and position the company for more growth as it pursues cryptocurrency acceptance and adoption in Africa while helping users to grow their wealth with low-risk investment options.

Mr Timi Ajiboye, CEO of Helicarrier, said, “Embarking on this partnership underscores our dedication to democratising wealth building on the continent. Accrue has built the perfect wealth-building tool for the internet-powered African, and we’re excited to bring that experience to 100k+ Buycoins users.”

In a statement sent to customers and seen by Business Post, Helicarrier and Accrue have a long history together as the company was the first investor in Accrue, which ex-Helicarrier teammates founded.

“The mission to help Africans build wealth by leveraging transformational digital currency technology is a shared driving force for both companies,” the statement read.

On his part, Mr Clinton Mbah, co-founder of Accrue, noted that, “Everything you love about Helicarrier culture and its products — ease of use, timely customer support, fantastic product sense, execution speed, technical chops, and tenacity in the face of adversity, are tenets we brought over to Accrue. We’re committed to these tenets forever.”

Accrue is a long-term wealth-building app built for beginners to invest. Users can save in Dollars (stablecoins), earn up to 6 per cent annual interest, and auto-invest in top-performing stocks and cryptocurrencies with minimal risk and likelier profit.

Accrue is available for users across Ghana and Nigeria, with support for more African countries coming soon.

Helicarrier, founded in 2017, has several interests in the African fintech space, and its products include Buycoins Pro, the order book for advanced crypto traders, Sendcash which lets users send money to and from Africa easily powered by crypto for the best exchange rates and fastest delivery times.

Helicarrier also owns significant equity in other pioneering products like Abacus.

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Economy

Inflation in Nigeria Will Remain High Through 2023—S&P

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inflation-nigeria

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A rating company, S&P Global Ratings, has projected that inflation in Nigeria will remain high through 2023 as a result of rising energy prices and tensions in the food-producing regions of the country, majorly the northern part.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month said inflation increased by 20.52 per cent in August 2022, forcing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 1.50 per cent to 15.5 per cent from 14.0 per cent.

For S&P, the central bank may have to continue to hike the rates because inflation will continue to face north till next year unless the government takes action to ease the energy crisis and insecurity in the country.

“Rising production costs for the corporate sector, due to high energy prices, and tensions in the food-producing middle belt, will likely keep inflation in double digits through 2023,” the agency said in a statement made available to Business Post.

In the disclosure, the firm warned that Nigerian banks could see a decline in their earnings. It further said the lenders could suffer weaker lending growth and asset quality due to the rate hike by the apex bank.

S&P further disclosed that the increase in the cash reserve ratio to 33.5 per cent from 27.5 per cent last month by the CBN could likely lead to a freeze in lending in the short term and squeeze net interest margins, especially if raised higher.

It was also stated that the harsh macroeconomic situation in Nigeria would deplete banks’ earnings as non-performing loans (NPLs) increase and net interest margins decline.

“We expect the banking sector’s NPL ratio will deteriorate to 5.5 per cent on average in 2022 after improving to 5 per cent at year-end 2021, while the return on equity moderates to 13 per cent from 14 per cent,” the agency said.

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