Morocco is set to become a regional leader in Sharia-compliant investment, estimating a $7 billion market in the country by 2018:
Morocco is poised to have its first full-fledged Islamic bank as early as September as the only North African country rated investment grade seeks to tap the US$1.8 trillion industry.
Dar Assafaa, an affiliate of the country’s largest lender AttijariWafa Bank, will probably become the nation’s first wholly Sharia-compliant financial institution when the central bank approves its switch, according to the Moroccan Association of Participative Financiers. The country introduced a law in January to regulate Islamic financial products and allow local and foreign banks to set up units that comply with the religion’s ban on interest.
“By September or October the first Sharia-compliant bank will start,” said Said Amaghdir, the chairman of the Casablanca-based association. “Morocco’s financing needs are huge, especially in project finance, and the stability we enjoy here will act in favour of Morocco.”
Political stability relative to neighbours has helped Morocco progress in an industry that’s stalling elsewhere in North Africa. Sharia-compliant finance in Egypt was derailed after Mohammed Morsi’s Islamist government was overthrown in 2013, while Libya has slipped into political chaos following the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Even in Tunisia, which directly elected its president for the first time in November, a debut sukuk sale has been delayed at least three times…[Full Story]