Nairobi hosts halal economy summit

Nairobi hosts a two-day summit from Monday to explore how Kenya and the region can best tap into the lucrative global Sh230 trillion Halal/ Islamic economy.

Local, regional and international industry experts are expected to converge in the city for the East Africa Islamic Economy Summit (EAIES) now in its second year.

Participants will dissect the opportunities presented by the multi-trillion shilling niche halal market regionally and globally and how best Kenyans and other East African countries can exploit it to boost their economies.

The halal economy is built around serving the economic needs of more than 1.6 billion Muslim consumers globally who want goods and services to be in line with Islamic principles. Supplying this market doesn’t require one to be necessarily a Muslim.

The global value of the Halal Economy is estimated to be at least Sh230 trillion (US$2.3 trillion) and is described as the fastest growing niche sector.

The Islamic economy encompasses the entire value chain not only of the food industry, where consumers have certain dietary guidelines,  but also other sectors such as tourism, banking, insurance, capital markets , fashion and beauty  among other sectors.

Experts will focus on how to improve the regulatory and legal environment to nurture the rapid growth of the halal economy amid the recent announcement by the government of intention to amend laws to better accommodate the niche sector.

The summit also seeks to eliminate misconceptions about the concept of Islamic finance and economy and highlight its best practices.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge as well Capital Markets Authority CEO Paul Muthaura are expected to be among the keynote speakers.

Kenya seeks to be the regional hub of Islamic Finance and economy with the Treasury planning changes in a raft of laws and regulations to develop the industry.

It also plans to issue the first Islamic bond or sukuk to attract cheaper funds from Middle-eastern countries and globally for infrastructure development thereby expanding its credit options from the current Eurobonds or syndicated loans from commercial banks.

Summit participants are expected to explore the untapped halal economy in East Africa which is home to millions of Muslims who present a potentially lucrative niche market for halal-certified goods and services.

For instance, Kenya is yet to exploit the global halal tourism sector, one of the fastest growing niche segments whose  estimated value is at least Sh21 trillion (US$219 billion).

Tanzania and Zanzibar are currently the most popular destinations, and are best equipped for the halal market.

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