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Friday, May 9, 2014

ISLAMIC BANKING IN NIGERIA: A LOOK AT JA'IZ BANK PLC




     During a recent visit to the head office of Daily Trust newspapers in Abuja, the management of Ja'iz Bank Plc (Nigeria's first fully fledged Islamic Bank) under the leadership of its Bangladeshi Managing Director Muhammad Nurul Islam revealed that the growth witnessed by Ja'iz Bank Plc in the last two years surpassed what was seen in the case of Bangladesh and some Nigerian conventional banks. Since inception in January 2012, Ja'iz Bank has grown investment to about 22 billion Naira despite the numerous obstacles on it path as being the only non-interest bank in the country. These successes are coming at a time when there is a major change in the Central Bank of Nigeria with a new governor coming to office in the first week of June this year who nobody knows of his policies and plan for the apex bank. It will, therefore, require extra effort on the part of the management of the bank and other key stakeholders to ensure the sustenance of the feats achieved so far by the Bank. Looking at the performances of Islamic Banks elsewhere around the world one can be confidence about the future potentiality of Ja'iz Bank if handle very well by the management. Already the bank has grown it customer base from zero when it started operations to over 60,000 customers as at today, deposits grow by some 1500% in the period.

     I also learnt from the visit of the Bank's management that Africa's richest man is among the biggest shareholders of the bank, in addition to many small shareholders. With about 14 branches and still counting (it plans to open 12 more branches before the end of this year) the bank is on it way to become a national bank from it current position of a regional bank, this according to the plan of the bank will happen sometime in 2015. Being the only Islamic Bank operating in the country put a lot of obstacles on the way of Ja'iz Bank which people familiar with the operations of Islamic Banks around the world are aware of; but despite these the management of the bank have managed to grow its investment portfolio at the rate of 380% in the last two and half years. Its customer's deposit grow even higher at the rate of over 460% in the same period. Still higher for overall period at the rate of 750% during the year. According to the MD, the use of state of the art IT equipments have contributed a lot to this success, this is despite the fact that its plan introduction of VISA and Master Cards is coming in the next months. The vision of Ja'iz Bank plc is to be the largest non interest financial service provider in the Sub Saharan Africa.