Islamic Finance has grown substantially over the past decade. Its average annual
growth is estimated between 15% and 20%. Islamic banking assets, on the other hand,
have expanded at an impressive pace and are estimated at USD 3 trillion this year.
With its focus on risk sharing, Islamic Finance offers genuine advantages to institutions
and customers who have adopted this financial system.
As a neutral International Financial Centre with a strong proven track-record of
more than two decades in cross-border financing and investment, Mauritius provides
a conducive environment for the provision and growth of Islamic Finance. In addition,
since Mauritius is fairly well impregnated with the Islamic culture, Islamic banking
and finance are not alien concepts. A number of Shari’ah compliant global funds
have already trusted the Mauritian jurisdiction and there is an increasing interest
in Mauritius as a place to structure Sukuk using Shari’ah compliant trusts as vehicles.
Mauritius fully supports international initiatives, namely FATF, Basel, IOSCO, and
IAIS aimed at preventing the jurisdiction from being used for money laundering and
In fact, Mauritius has had a Waqf Act since 1941. Over the years there has been
constant evolution in the Islamic banking and financial services industry in Mauritius.
In November 2007, the Bank of Mauritius was officially admitted as an associate
member of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB). In 2008, the first Islamic
insurance cover became operational, and in 2009 the first Islamic Banking business
window was opened.
These developments set Mauritius well ahead of the curve for the provision of Islamic
Banking and Financial services in the region.
The Board of Investment sponsored the 11th Islamic Financial Services Board Summit
held on 21st and 22nd May 2014 in Mauritius. This one-and-a-half-day summit brought
together an experienced international group of chairpersons and speakers with a
projected audience of 300 delegates from all sectors of the financial services industry
across the globe. During his keynote address, the Prime Minister of Mauritius announced
the development of Sharia-compliant liquidity management instruments.
Various expressions of interest were received about the Mauritian International
Financial Centre. It is to be noted that this week the Bank of Mauritius has announced
the granting of a new banking licence to Habib Bank Limited (HBL) to conduct Islamic
banking business through a window operation, alongside its traditional banking business.
Mauritius has all the ingredients in place for the provision of Islamic Finance
and banking. Its success depends on the involvement of various institutions as well
on the Mauritian clientele. As stated by the Governor of Bank of Mauritius, "Islamic
finance is attractive for all customers of financial services irrespective of their
faith as it is based on principles which are of universal appeal and are echoed
in many religions.”