By BusinessWeek Correspondent
Dar es Salaam. The launch of Tanzania’s first Islamic bank, Amana Bank, last monht is the latest development in Tanzania and East Africa’s emerging Islamic finance industry. With about half the population being Muslims there is a huge potential for Shariah-compliant financial services in Tanzania.
The headquarters of the bank are in the Kariakoo trade centre in the city, the hub of commerce in Tanzania, where a significant portion of merchants are Muslims.
The area is so important that another bank, the People’s Bank of Zanzibar (PBZ) has this month launched a branch specializing on Islamic banking.
Launching the PBZ branch last week Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein urged the Bank of Tanzania to create a conducive atmosphere for positive service delivery in Islamic finance.
“This is a non-religious bank open to those who abhor interest rates as it is prohibited in the holy book, the Qur’an but if you love interest rates, this bank is not for you,” said Shein.
The chairman of the Amana bank Haroon Pirmohamed said that the bank is the result of a need for an alternative to a conventional banking system that provides ethical and fair modes of banking for all.
He said that the bank will offer products and services that meet the needs of not just the Muslim community but all citizens and corporate bodies in the country.