Sept 27 - Supportive socio-political factors and economic incentives should
accelerate the growth of Islamic banking activities in North Africa from current
low levels, according to a new report published by Standard & Poor's Ratings
Services titled "Prospects For Islamic Banking In North Africa Improve Following
The Arab Spring."
Islamic banking started to emerge in North Africa in the 1970s when Egypt was
among the first countries in the Arab world to authorize the establishment of
pioneer Islamic banks. However, the sector is still branded as a niche market
in the region, with an overall market share well below 5% of total banking
assets. We think the change in political landscape following the Arab Spring
should rekindle the development of Islamic banking in the region.
In the meantime, we see financial incentives for developing Islamic banking in
the region. An increase in Islamic banking activities should help alleviate
some financial pressures that North African countries currently face. For
instance, it could promote banking penetration and intermediation, and broaden
access to funding sources for banks, corporates, and sovereigns.
That said, we believe progress may only be gradual, taking at least two to
three years before market penetration markedly improves. This is because these
activities require a solid foundation to develop successfully, namely a stable
political environment, clearly defined legal and supervisory frameworks, and
marketing initiatives to attract and retain customers.
Still, we believe that North African regulators and product developers should
be able to build on the development of this field in other parts of the world.
Assuming that imported solutions are endorsed by local Sharia scholars, this
cross-fertilization should help the Islamic banking industry become more
sophisticated and integrated globally.
The report is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect on the Global Credit
Portal at www.globalcreditportal.com. If you are not a RatingsDirect
subscriber, you may purchase a copy of the report by calling (1) 212-438-7280
or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ratings
information can also be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site by using
the Ratings search box located in the left column at www.standardandpoors.com.