………..IUCG Leads the Way
Report: Mohammed Abu, Accra-ADM, Ghana
With other West African neighboring countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Niger having started to explore the Islamic zero interest alternative mode of financing, since the last couple of years, it is imperative for Ghana to also consider joining the trail in her supreme national interest.
The move by the said countries had been influenced by the rising global appeal and importance of Islamic finance as a vibrant alternative mode of financing which is being adopted by most emerging economies and advanced countries such as the UK, Luxembourg, Singapore, US among others, alike.
It is therefore against the foregoing background that, the importance of a major initiative taken by the Islamic University College, Ghana (IUCG) to host the 1st International Islamic Banking & Finance Conference (ICIBF2018) in Accra could be best appreciated.
The conference has since been subscribed to by a number of global renowned Islamic financial, takaful and sharia experts from within and without Africa.
As a prelude to the event scheduled to take place from 25-26 April 2018 at the Accra International Conference Centre ,the Research and IT Department, IUCG,in March , hosted a one-day most historic open lecture on Islamic finance on the topic, “Factoring Islamic Finance into Ghana’s Development Paradigm: The Way Forward”
The Chairman for the occasion, Prince Alhassan Andani, CEO of Stanbic Ghana, in his opening remarks underscored the relevance of Islamic finance industry to the development paradigm of Ghana and exhorted Ghanaian Muslims to lead the way in ethics since it was a basic industry requirement .
In his welcome address, The President of the Islamic University College (IUCG), noted that the rising global appeal of Islamic banking and finance to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, stems out of its effective risk mitigation mechanisms via avoidance of interest, gambling and speculation that underpins its best industry practice .Financial inclusion and intermediation offered by the Islamic finance industry is the sure way to sustainable development.
Conversely, he noted, a gap between the monetary sector and the real economy is a sure recipe for economic disaster which was the bane of the global financial crisis in 2008. The crisis he noted also tended to lend more credence to the veracity of the Islamic finance system’s ethics driven and asset based transaction posture .The crave for Islamic finance ,he recounted ,further soared with the advent of the crisis that hit the US and most parts of Europe .
Dr.Abubakar Marzuk Azindow, the Chairman of the Technical Committee in a statement said the main conference event is an interdisciplinary conference that aim at raising public awareness level of Islamic banking and finance among policy makers, banking and finance people, business executives and intellectuals, students and all stakeholders for the ultimate realization and development of modern Islamic financial products as well as services in Ghana.
The main presenter, the immediate past governor of Ghana and the Chairman of the Zambang Group, Ghana, Dr.Abdul Nashiru Issakaku, called for a paradigm shift from the traditional interest based modes of financing through the IMF,World Bank, Eurobond and local bank lending to more equity based financial products such as Islamic finance.
Dr.Nashiru called for the much needed political commitment towards factoring Islamic finance into Ghana’s development paradigm since the country stands to make tremendous gains from the industry to the benefit of her gross national economy.
The passing of the Banks and Specialized Deposit-Taking Institution Act, 2016, he noted was a first step towards establishing the legal and regulatory framework thus, making room for the offering of non interest banking products in the country for the first time. However, beyond that, he emphasized, capacity building was still very crucial more so, for the regulatory bodies in order to ensure effective governance of the regulatory environment.
He also encouraged the nation to consider her long protracted absence from the membership of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) noting that, Ghana as a nation was losing a lot of opportunities.
Dr.Nashiru noted that Ghana could leverage her membership of the IDB to raise more financial resources at the least possible cost and save herself of having to run back to the World Bank Group for budgetary support sometimes much against her will. More financial resources would enable her to invest in infrastructure whose funding gap he said, was estimated at USD7.00 billion.
He further called on Ghana to draw inspiration and lessons from the country’s past colonial master ,UK,as it relates to the adoption and application of Islamic finance for national development .The UK’s passion for Islamic finance he said, has been amply rewarded in terms of the country’s access to interest-free infrastructure project financing among other benefits.
The Chairman in his closing remarks commended the presenter for doing justice to the topic. He also noted that, whereas Islamic finance banked on faith, ethics and self-regulation through religious laws, its conventional counterpart on its part, even though was also bound by ethics and a regulatory environment guided by man-made laws but however not having to be subjected to any religious laws .