We were delighted to sponsor and attend the IFN Forum, Casablanca, Morocco, on 17th April 2018.
IFN Morocco was a relatively small scale but well attended event with DDCAP Group and Bank Assafa being the two partners with marketing stands. The speakers were invited to share their thoughts on how to grow the industry and showcase their firms. The attendance of the Head of Insurance Studies and Standardization at the Moroccan Supervisory Authority) and the Head of Asset Management at the Moroccan Capital Markets Authority, was well received. Each gave an overview of their respective sectors whilst highlighting the goals and perceived challenges ahead.
Previous laws (notably the Participative Banking act chapter in 2014) had laid the foundations for banking in compliance with Sharia’a principals in Morocco and, on 2nd January 2017, the Moroccan central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib, issued its approval for five banks and the subsidiaries of three more banks to provide participation banking products in the country. An ecosystem of banks, funds and financial services firms are now successfully operating in Morocco overseen by a Shari’a Committee for Participative Finance established to govern all activities.
The speakers comprised of certain Moroccan regulators, senior executives of Moroccan participatory banks and other financial services firms, as well as Islamic finance experts from abroad who were asked to share their own experiences. Discussions and panel sessions examined how to develop infrastructure to best nurture the growth of the industry with particular focus on sukuk, fin-tech and ESG. Morocco’s finance ministry had previously muted issuing four dirham-denominated sovereign Sukuk issues in 2018, starting with an Ijarah instrument, followed by Wakalah, Musharakah and Murabahah instruments.
In terms of economic growth Morocco has been amongst the best performing countries in the MENA region in recent years and holds a strategic location as a gateway between Europe and North Africa. Its banks have a strong presence overseas, particularly in Europe and Africa, and its efforts to become a regional financial hub (through initiatives such as the Casablanca Financial City) increase its appeal to foreign investors. Developing its Sharia’a compliant sector could be seen as a positive development in this context.