Uganda has received applications from three Islamic banks
in the Middle East to
offer Shariah-compliant financial services in the country.
“The Middle East investors can
start operations either by acquiring a local bank or setting up a new Islamic
bank in the country,” Grace Stuart Ndyareeba, deputy director of commercial
banking at Bank of Uganda, said in an interview in Jakarta on Friday, declining
to name the banks.
The African nation is
changing its banking rules to allow lenders to operate under Islamic law and
representatives from central bank are in Jakarta to learn from Indonesia’s
experience. Southeast Asia’s largest economy, home to the world’s largest
Muslim population, passed a law in 2008 to allow banks
to offer services that comply with Islam’s ban on interest.
Uganda hopes to pass
amendments enabling Islamic finance by early 2012, Titus Mulindwa, deputy legal
counsel at Bank of Uganda told reporters in Jakarta on Friday.
Mulindwa said: “We’ve been
studying amendments to the current banking rules to allow Islamic banks to own assets and are looking at refining tax laws
for Islamic banks to operate.”
Around 12 percent of
Uganda’s 33 million people are Muslims, according to the Central Intelligence
Agency World Factbook.
“The interest in Islamic
financial services is driven by the people,” Ndyareeba said. “As the central
bank, we’re facilitating their needs.”