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Project launched to raise awareness on Islamic banking services

21st April 2012
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ISLAMIC finance has been growing rapidly in developing and developed countries in recent years. Its financial assets have expanded by over 10 per cent annually and represented over 0.5 per cent of the global financial assets in 2010.

The strong growth is likely to continue in the coming years despite the recent financial crisis. The National Bank of Commerce (NBC) and KCB Bank Tanzania have launched Islamic banking services to meet market needs.

Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA), formerly called Tanzania Global Learning Centre (TGDLC), in collaboration with Tokyo Development Learning Centre (TDLC) has organised on May 14-June 7, this year, a videoconference workshop on introduction to Islamic finance to share fundamentals of Islamic finance with a special focus on policy makers and officials of the financial sector in Africa and Asia.

This banking system is based on the principles of Islamic law and Islamic economics. It aims at ensuring that banking services and products appeal to all customers regardless of their belief system or background. Under Islamic banking, products and governing contracts are structured with strict observance of Islamic law on just and fair business transactions.

According to TaGLA Interim Executive Director Charles Senkondo, Islamic banking or finance is TaGLA’s newly introduced programme with a view to raising public awareness and building capacity on modern banking in compliance with Shariah law. It is open to all customers - Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

It is operated free of interest and any ambiguity under the principle of profit-risk-sharing. In contrast to conventional finance, business transactions under Islamic finance require underlying genuine trade and assets.

The Islamic finance market is still below its true potential and its market is still below its true potential. However, some countries in Africa and Asia are making considerable effort to capitalise on the growing popularity of Islamic financial services.

This programme will feature international experts of Islamic finance from the World Bank and other international organisations and will be offered in English and French.

Speakers include Zamir Igbal, a PhD holder and lead investment and principal financial officer with the Quantitative Strategies, Risk and Analytics (QRA) Department of the World Bank Treasury and Etsuaki Yoshida, an economist at the Bank of Japan and joined as adviser in charge of policy planning of Islamic finance in the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) since 2007 to date.

He is also visiting associate professor teaching Islamic finance at the Waseda Graduate School.

The videoconference workshop will be moderated by Mor Seck, Manager/Director Senegal Distance Learning Centre and President of the Association of African Distance Learning Centres (AADLC).

“Many banks across the world are now changing from conventional to Islamic banking. We are part of this change and Tanzania is doing the same. We need to raise public awareness on this banking system and how to utilise it,” said TaGLA programme coordinator Dickson Mwanyika in an interview with this reporter.

Participants will be able to describe fundamental concepts in Islamic finance and its growth potential, structure financial products and mechanisms under Islamic finance, understanding key actors and roles in regulating, supervising and monitoring and learn from practices in other countries on Islamic finance.

The workshop is divided in four sessions. Session I is scheduled for May 14, this year, and will be about introduction to Islamic finance and will focus on the definition and fundamentals of Islamic finance, global trends and estimated growth of the sector and an overview of emerging markets, products and services in Islamic finance.

Session II is scheduled for May 24 and will focus on structuring Islamic financial products and will present basic models of Islamic finance (trade-based and investment-based models) and various financial products and transaction models (loans, deposits, Sukuk-bonds, funds, Takaful-insurance) with practical examples.

Session III is scheduled for May 31 and will focus on geographical expansion of Islamic finance. It will address emerging markets and their government policies and jurisdiction and international organisation.

Session IV is scheduled for June 7 and will focus on risk management in Islamic finance. The session will seek to analyse market and credit risk management and briefly present legal issues under Islamic finance.

Target groups include national and local government officials from financial ministries and agencies, officers from commercial banks, legal department, insurance, security and asset management companies, microfinance institutions and NGOs who wish to develop knowledge on Islamic finance for their business activities in Africa and selected countries in South and East Asia and the financial sector staff from international organisations.

There are two basic principles behind Islamic banking. One is about the sharing of profit and loss and, the other is about prohibition of the collection and payment of interest. Interest collection is not permissible under Shariah law.

Globally, Islamic banking started in 1993 and since then commercial banks and other financial institutions started and continued offering Islamic banking products and services under the Islamic banking scheme (IBS).

Videoconference workshop participants can follow the programme at their nearest GDLN centres. In Tanzania, the programme will be run by TaGLA at Institute of Finance Management (IFM), Dar es Salaam.

Each session will be a 2.5-hour interactive session using videoconference technology. Each session consists of presentations followed by a question and answer session and open discussion. Webcasting (live streaming via internet) will be available at http://streamng.jointokyo.org/ so, internet access and Windows Media Player are required.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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