Announcement Archive

Strong demand from Africa for Islamic finance

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center


TDLC

An “Introduction to Islamic Finance Course” was successfully delivered under a joint initiative by the Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) and the Association of African Distance Learning Centers (AADLC) in collaboration with international experts from The World Bank, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). This program, which was the first ever course on this topic offered through the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of Islamic finance in Africa and Asian regions. Opportunities for such learning are scarce in Sub-Saharan African countries.  The program saw a turnout of 243 policymakers and practitioners in financial sector from 10 African countries. 

What is Islamic Finance?

Islamic Finance is a rapidly growing financial sector which is operated free of interest under the principle of profit-risk-sharing. Its institutions largely avoided the worst effects of the global financial crisis that began in 2008 and are increasingly perceived as a viable complement to conventional finance, providing attractive channels of financial intermediation. While Islamic finance still remains relatively small in terms of total global financial activity, many countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, are stepping up their efforts to capitalize on the growing popularity of the Islamic financial products. 

For more information, see also “Realizing the Potential of Islamic Finance”, Economic Premise, No. 77, March 2012 by the World Bank.

Driven by strong demand for learning about Islamic finance

An official request for a learning program on Islamic finance from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Senegal, was received by GDLN Africa. At the GDLN’s Global Meeting in Tanzania in May 2011, a call was made for partners to jointly develop a new learning program on Islamic finance. A large number of GDLN affiliates, particularly from Africa, showed interest in the subject area. TDLC responded by collaborating on the design and delivery of a distance learning course with AADLC.

AADLC and TDLC conducted a needs assessment with AADLC member countries in September 2011 to obtain more information about the learning demand of the target audience.  Several Islamic finance experts also provided advice on the ourse design including Mr. Zamir Iqbal, Lead Investment Officer, World Bank and Mr. Etsuaki Yoshida, JBIC Advisor , Adjunct Research Fellow, Center for Financial Research, Waseda University. Given the high number of French speaking African countries involved a decision was made from the onset to deliver the course in French as well as English.
Implementing the course

The course was delivered from May 14 to June 7, 2012 for four sessions and consisted of a 2.5 hours interactive lecture and Q&A. Each session was delivered in English and French simultaneously via video conferencing to GDLN centers in 10 African countries, China and Japan and real-time web-streaming to other countries. Even though the sessions were held late at night in Tokyo, due to the time difference with Africa, a large audience of business people gathered to participate to learn jointly in the program.

Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Managing Director provided a recorded message for the opening of the course.

 


A Moodle-based course site helped to effectively manage the large group of participants for the duration of the course and collect questions with limited human resource.


LMS Screen Image

Participants joined from around the world

In total there were 243 participants registered from 12 participating GDLN centers located in Senegal, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Benin, Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire, China and Japan. The majority of the course participants were from financial government agencies, central banks and private companies.  Additionally, 22 participants registered for web-streaming based participation from Bangladesh, Pakistan, US, Canada, Nigeria, EU and several other countries.

Certificates of Participation were granted for those attending at least three sessions out of four sessions. By the end of the course a total of 188 participants had attended at least three sessions, which means that 77.4% of registered participants were eligible to receive completion certificates.

Course assessment

The course received a significantly high assessment overall by the participants. Specific aspects of the course that were rated highly included course contents, course structure, interactive discussions and Q&A between the lecturers and the students during the VC sessions.  Feedback from the participants also gave an excellent rating for the speakers and their expertise on the subject matter, and indicated a sincere appreciation for the localization of the course content into French.

Participants’ voices

Here is a selection of comments from the participants of the course.

- I thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to join and participate on the online course on “Islamic Finance”. We are so interested on it and I invited three members of the Malagasy Islamic Community to join us yesterday during the last session. They also are so interested and we all want to gather our ideas to find a way to invite Islamic Finance to open their financial activities in Madagascar…
(Participant of Madagascar, Director of the Economy at the Region of Analamanga, Antananarivo, Madagascar)

- Let me take this opportunity to thank your team for organizing this wonderful course, at least I have been enlightened on how Islamic finance works and what it is. However, I kindly requesting for another course after the introduction to further go deeper into other aspects of Islamic Financing so that when it starts participants would be the base of human resource to conduct, manage etc. it in their respective countries. Or be guided on how to advance in this course as individuals or as a group. There are many people who missed out and would like to join; therefore another set of sessions would be good for them.
(Participant of Uganda, Bank of Uganda, Kampala)

Conclusion and way forward

The success of the course was largely due to the strong demand for new knowledge on Islamic finance within the African financial sector, in particular by the Senegalese government. Added to this, the approach taken by the team ensured that there was firm ownership for the capacity building course within the African DLC community. Of equal importance was the involvement of world class experts in Islamic finance.  Feedback from the participants has uncovered new demand for courses in other areas of Islamic finance and will guide the course team from now in planning improvements and follow up activities.