Uganda Grants First Islamic Banking License: A Milestone in Financial Inclusivity

Uganda's central bank issues inaugural Islamic banking license, paving the way for Shariah-compliant finance and potential economic growth.

Sep 9, 2023 - 07:48
Sep 9, 2023 - 07:48
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Uganda Grants First Islamic Banking License: A Milestone in Financial Inclusivity
Uganda Grants First Islamic Banking License

Uganda's central bank has issued its inaugural Islamic banking license, following the enactment of legislation in June to accommodate Shariah-compliant finance activities. This pivotal development signals a new era for Uganda's financial sector, opening doors to a segment that abstains from conventional banking services due to religious beliefs.

The recipient of this significant license is Salaam Bank Ltd., a subsidiary of Djibouti-based Salaam African Bank. This establishment marks a milestone not only for Uganda but also for the broader East African economy, as it paves the way for potential growth in a region with immense untapped financial potential.

Islamic finance, characterized by the absence of interest charges, has been gaining traction globally. Assets adhering to Shariah principles are projected to surge from approximately $2.1 trillion in 2016 to an estimated $3 trillion in the next decade. This growth trajectory underscores the importance of accommodating this financial model in Uganda's economic landscape.

Deputy Governor Michael Atingi-Ego of the central bank lauded the move, emphasizing the transformative impact Islamic banking could have on Uganda's financial sector. He stated, "We believe that Islamic banking has the potential to make a significant contribution to the development of Uganda’s financial sector."

Salaam African Bank's entry into the Ugandan market last year through the acquisition of Top Finance Bank Ltd. marked a strategic move in their broader expansion plan in East Africa. This calculated step aligned with their vision for regional growth and presence.

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The parliamentary authorization of Islamic banking in June further solidifies Uganda's commitment to embracing diverse financial models. The move is not only a testament to the country's dedication to financial inclusivity but also a signal of its readiness to tap into the potential of Islamic finance.

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