Groundwork laid for Nigeria's Islamic finance sector
Nigeria is gradually opening up to Islamic finance, a move that could develop one of Africa's fastest-growing consumer and corporate banking sectors and establish the country as the African hub for Islamic finance. In recent months, a string of regulatory initiatives have set the groundwork for products such as Islamic bonds (sukuk), insurance (takaful) and interbank lending products, although there is still only a small number of local market participants. Islamic banking is currently offered by the Islamic window of Stanbic IBTC, a unit of South Africa's Standard Bank, and Jaiz Bank, a full-fledged Islamic lender which has operated since 2012. Sterling Bank has been granted approval in principle for an Islamic window, while two more lenders have expressed interest in obtaining licences to operate Islamic Windows.