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Embracing the Sustainable Future via the Digital Transformation of Islamic Finance

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In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and a growing global emphasis on sustainability, the intersection of Islamic finance and digital transformation has emerged as a critical focal point. The panel discussion titled “Embracing the Sustainable Future via the Digital Transformation of Islamic Finance” at KLIFF 2023 explored this convergence, shedding light on how digitalization is shaping the future of Islamic finance and driving sustainable development.

The Forum: KLIFF 2023

KLIFF 2023, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, brought together thought leaders, industry experts, and pioneers in Islamic finance to discuss and chart the course for the industry’s future. One of the highlights of the event was the panel discussion that delved into the transformative potential of digitalization in Islamic finance.

The Distinguished Panelists

Moderated by Rizal Il-Ehzan Fadil Azim, CEO of Alliance Islamic Bank Berhad, the panel featured a lineup of industry experts and leaders who shared their insights and experiences:

  • Dr. Wong Huei Ching – Executive Director, Digital Strategy & Innovation, Securities Commission Malaysia.
  • Raja Teh Maimunah – CEO, AEON Credit Service’s Digital Bank.
  • Aziz Zainuddin – Co-Founder, StellaSwap.com.
  • Ts. Othman Abdullah – CEO, Islamic Finance Silverlake.
  • Nor Shahrizan Sulaiman – Deputy CEO, Maybank Islamic Berhad.

Key Discussions

The panel discussion explored five crucial sub-topics:

1. Can Digital Banking Create a Resilient and Sustainable Product?

The panelists engaged in a comprehensive discussion on how digital banking can contribute to resilience and sustainability in Islamic finance. Dr. Wong Huei Ching emphasized the role of regulatory frameworks and innovation in creating sustainable digital banking solutions. Raja Teh Maimunah highlighted the importance of customer-centric digital services in building resilient products.

2. How Is Digital Transformation Driving Sustainable Development in Islamic Finance?

The conversation shifted to the impact of digital transformation on sustainable development in Islamic finance. Aziz Zainuddin discussed how blockchain and decentralized finance (DeFi) technologies are enabling transparent and sustainable financial systems. Ts. Othman Abdullah highlighted how automation and data analytics are streamlining operations, reducing costs, and improving efficiency.

3. Key Opportunities for Islamic Finance in Digital Transformation

The panelists identified key opportunities for Islamic finance in the digital transformation landscape. Nor Shahrizan Sulaiman emphasized the potential for Islamic fintech to offer ethical and Shariah-compliant solutions. Dr. Wong Huei Ching pointed out that digitalization could enhance financial inclusion, extending the benefits of Islamic finance to underserved communities.

4. The Role of Fintech in Shaping the Future of Islamic Finance

The discussion turned to the pivotal role of fintech in shaping the future of Islamic finance. Aziz Zainuddin discussed how decentralized finance platforms like StellaSwap are fostering innovation and trust in Islamic finance. Ts. Othman Abdullah highlighted the importance of cybersecurity in safeguarding digital financial systems.

5. Case Study of Successful Digital Transformation Initiatives in Islamic Finance

The panel concluded with a case study presentation by Nor Shahrizan Sulaiman, Deputy CEO of Maybank Islamic Berhad, showcasing successful digital transformation initiatives in Islamic finance. The case study demonstrated how digitalization can enhance customer experience, streamline processes, and contribute to sustainable growth.

The panel discussion at KLIFF 2023 underscored the transformative potential of digitalization in Islamic finance. The convergence of technology and sustainability is reshaping the industry, with digital banking, fintech, and innovative solutions playing pivotal roles in creating a resilient, customer-centric, and sustainable future for Islamic finance. The insights and experiences shared by the panelists offered valuable guidance for stakeholders navigating the evolving landscape of Islamic finance in the digital age.


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EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Unlocking Economic Potential: Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit

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By Baba Yunus Muhammad

Zamfara State is gearing up for an unprecedented event that could potentially redefine its economic landscape – the Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit. This historic event, which is scheduled to take place in the state capital, Gusau in May 2024, represents a pivotal moment in Zamfara State’s quest for economic rejuvenation and sustainable growth, spotlighting investment prospects, harnessing potentials, and capitalizing on the burgeoning Halal economy. Set against the backdrop of socio-economic challenges, this Summit, being orchestrated by the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF), an international Islamic development organization headquartered in the Republic of Ghana, and convened under the Distinguished Patronage of His Excellency, Dr. Dauda Lawal, the Executive Governor of Zamfara State, emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a strategic platform for growth and development.

At the heart of this endeavor lies a visionary approach to economic development – one that views industrialization as the cornerstone of transformation, progress, and poverty reduction. Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Dauda Lawal, the Zamfara State Government has made a strategic commitment to prioritize job creation and industrialization, recognizing them as pivotal drivers of development. This strategic agenda dovetails seamlessly with the broader imperatives encapsulated within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aiming to significantly augment industry’s contribution to employment and GDP within the state.

The Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit transcends mere rhetoric – it represents a concrete manifestation of the State’s determination to harness the power of industrialization for the collective good. More than just a forum for dialogue, this summit serves as a catalyst for action – a platform where aspirations coalesce into actionable strategies and tangible outcomes.

At its nucleus lie the ambitious plans for establishing Special Halal Economic Zone and Rural Transformation Centers across the state, envisioned as engines of innovation, productivity and trade. The Summit serves as a catalyst for identifying and capitalizing on investment opportunities across various sectors. From agribusiness to Islamic finance, the summit offers a platform for investors to explore lucrative ventures and forge strategic partnerships with local stakeholders. One of the key investment prospects of the summit lies in the Halal food industry. With an increasing global demand for Halal-certified products, Zamfara can leverage its agricultural resources to become a hub for Halal food production and export. This not only creates opportunities for local farmers and agribusinesses but also positions Zamfara State favorably in the international Halal market.

A Special Halal Economic Zone (SHEZ) holds special significance within the context of the Halal economy. By designating an area specifically tailored to accommodate Halal industries and businesses, a Halal focused SEZ provides a conducive environment for investment, innovation, and trade. It offers streamlined regulatory frameworks, infrastructure development, and incentives to attract domestic and foreign investors interested in Halal-related activities. Additionally, a Halal focused SEZ serves as a focal point for research and development, fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and government to drive technological advancements and product innovation in Halal sectors.

Moreover, by clustering Halal-certified businesses within these zones, Zamfara State can create synergies, promote knowledge sharing, and drive economies of scale, thereby maximizing the potential of the Halal economy.

Driving this ambitious agenda forward is the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF), which is steadfast in its commitment to galvanizing the global Islamic finance industry and mobilizing public and private sector investments to propel Zamfara State towards industrialization. With a strategic emphasis on key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and industrialization, AFRIEF lays the groundwork for a profound structural overhaul of Zamfara’s economic landscape.

To comprehend the full magnitude of the Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit, one must delve into the broader context of the global halal economy. Encompassing a diverse array of sectors including food, finance, tourism, cosmetics, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and more, the halal industry represents a burgeoning market with exponential growth potential.

With an estimated global Muslim population exceeding 1.8 billion, the Halal market represents a significant economic force. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, global expenditure on Halal products and services is projected to reach $3.2 trillion by 2024, highlighting the immense potential for growth and innovation in this sector. With the global Muslim population on the rise and an increasing demand for halal-certified goods and services, tapping into this market presents unparalleled opportunities for economic expansion and diversification.

Furthermore, the Halal economy extends beyond religious considerations, encompassing principles of ethical consumption, sustainability, and social responsibility. As consumers become increasingly conscious of the origins and production processes of goods and services, the demand for Halal-certified products continues to rise. This trend presents opportunities for businesses and governments alike to capitalize on the Halal economy’s principles of integrity, quality, and inclusivity.

From Malaysia to the Middle East, the Halal economy transcends geographical boundaries, offering opportunities for collaboration and partnership on a global scale. Through initiatives such as the Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit, stakeholders have the opportunity to leverage the power of the Halal economy to drive sustainable development, foster prosperity, and build bridges across cultures and continents.

Against the backdrop of Zamfara State’s socio-economic fabric, characterized by its predominantly rural populace and agrarian economy, the potential benefits of the summit are manifold. By fostering an enabling ecosystem for industrialization and entrepreneurship, the summit holds the promise of unlocking Zamfara State’s latent economic potential, generating employment opportunities, and improving living standards.

Furthermore, the Summit serves as a conduit for attracting both domestic and foreign investments, facilitating technology transfer, knowledge exchange, and skills enhancement. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative initiatives, Zamfara State can harness its unique strengths and resources to emerge as a preeminent hub of halal-centric industries.

Additionally, the summit serves as a platform for knowledge exchange and capacity building, equipping local entrepreneurs and businesses with the skills and resources needed to thrive in the global Halal market. This not only enhances the competitiveness of Zamfara’s economy but also positions the state as a center of excellence in Halal-related industries.

In conclusion, the Zamfara State Halal Economic Summit represents a pivotal moment in the economic trajectory of the state and the broader Islamic economic community. By embracing the principles of the Halal economy and leveraging its inherent strengths, Zamfara has the potential to emerge as a beacon of prosperity and progress in the Federal republic of Nigeria. Under the visionary leadership of Governor Dauda Lawal and with the support of the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation, this summit is poised to chart a new course towards sustainable development, transforming challenges into opportunities, and realizing the aspirations of the people of Zamfara for a better, more prosperous future.

Baba Yunus Muhammad is President of the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation, Tamale, Ghana.


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What To Expect From the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum 2024?

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The Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2024 is poised to be a pivotal event in the Islamic finance industry, building on the momentum of its previous editions. The forum has consistently served as a crucial platform for discussions on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in Islamic finance, drawing attention to the innovative strides and potential growth areas within the sector.

Key Expectations from KLIFF 2024

  • Industry Leadership and Expert Insights: The forum is expected to host a distinguished lineup of speakers from various sectors of Islamic finance, including banking, fintech, asset management, and more. Previous editions have seen influential figures such as Dima Djani, CEO of Hijra Group, and Jamaludin Bujang, Managing Partner (Malaysia) at Gobi Partners, sharing their insights, which indicates the caliber of thought leadership that attendees can anticipate in 2024​.
  • Sustainable and Ethical Finance Focus: A significant emphasis on sustainable and ethical finance principles is likely, reflecting a global trend towards more responsible investment practices. This aligns with the broader objectives of Islamic finance to contribute positively to society and the environment. Discussions may revolve around leveraging Islamic finance and social finance for sustainable future, as seen in previous forums​
  • Global Islamic Fintech Outlook: The rapid growth and innovation in Islamic fintech will likely be a central theme, given its increasing prominence in offering Shariah-compliant financial solutions worldwide. The previous edition highlighted the sector’s expansion, including the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency, emphasizing the role of digital banking in enhancing financial inclusion and the importance of regulatory frameworks to support industry growth​
  • Networking and Collaboration Opportunities: KLIFF 2024 will provide invaluable networking opportunities, facilitating connections between industry stakeholders, including investors, policymakers, and professionals. This collaboration is essential for fostering innovation and exploring new ventures in the Islamic finance landscape.
  • Support from Industry Leaders: The forum’s impact is underscored by the support it receives from leading entities in the Islamic finance sector. For instance, Principal Asset Management’s partnership for the IFN Investor Asia Forum 2024, scheduled in Kuala Lumpur, indicates the level of industry backing and commitment to advancing Islamic finance​
  • Innovative Solutions and Best Practices: Attendees can expect to learn about the latest innovative solutions and best practices within Islamic finance, including advancements in Sukuk, Islamic banking, asset management, and more. The event will likely showcase cutting-edge research, case studies, and success stories from around the globe.

The Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2024 is set to be a landmark event, highlighting the growing importance and dynamism of the Islamic finance industry. With a focus on sustainability, technological innovation, and global collaboration, KLIFF 2024 will offer attendees a comprehensive view of the sector’s current state and future directions. By gathering experts, thought leaders, and practitioners from around the world, the forum will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the Islamic finance landscape, promoting development, and addressing the evolving needs of the global economy.


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OIC Secretary-General Calls on OIC Member States to Invest More in Critical Sectors of the Economy

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On the 4th of December 2023, the President of the Republic of Türkiye, His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inaugurated the 39th Session of the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), in Istanbul. The ceremony was attended by the OIC Secretary-General and Member States’ concerned ministers.

In his Statement, President Erdogan highlighted the grave situation in Gaza and the rising trend of Islamophobia and emphasized the need for all OIC Member States to have a unified position to address current challenges facing the Muslim Ummah.

He also underscored the importance of implementing the Trade Preferential System among OIC Member States as well as supporting the OIC Arbitration Centre, developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and halal industries towards promoting sustainable socio-economic growth in OIC Member States.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 39th Session of COMCEC, H.E Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), acknowledged the continued support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Chairman of COMCEC, towards the realization of various economic programs and projects of the OIC.

Referring to the tragic massacres taking in Gaza and Palestine generally, the Secretary-General called upon the international community to intervene urgently to put an end to Israel’s criminal aggression and murder of Palestinians. While highlighting the activities of OIC and its institutions in the economic domain during the last one year, the Secretary-General emphasized the need to further enhance intra-OIC cooperation in the vital sectors of the economy.

Especially in the food and agriculture sector, to build more resilient food systems, share knowledge and best practices in order to help develop domestic production capacities in OIC Member States. Accordingly, he called for greater cooperation, harmonization, and synergizing of efforts toward addressing the developmental challenges of OIC Member States.

The Opening Ceremony was also addressed by Ministers in charge of trade from Qatar, Senegal, and Kazakstan in their capacities as representatives of Arab, African, and Asian groups

The 39th Session of COMCEC is being attended by Ministers in charge of trade and economy of the OIC Member States as well as OIC institutions and international organizations. The Session will review the status of implementation of various projects under the COMCEC in the areas of trade and investment, agriculture, tourism and financial development, Private Sector, and poverty alleviation among others. The theme of the 39th COMCEC Sessions is “Improving E-Commerce Capacities of the OIC Member Countries”.

COMCEC is an OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation, which meets annually to review OIC activities in the economic and trade development domains.


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