Nairobi:Gulf African Bank, Kenya's second Islamic bank, now has a licence to operate
locally.The bank had earlier in the year announced it would open its doors in April,
but this was delayed by registration procedures. Central Bank of Kenya
granted the bank licence on Thursday. Speaking at the bank's headquarters in
Geminia Insurance Plaza, Upperhill, Nairobi yesterday, chairman Suleiman
Shahbal said they will offer a wide range of products to customers.
"We are delighted, and it is symbolic that the licence was granted on the
first day of Ramadhan," Mr Shahbal said. Initially the bank will open three
branches in Nairobi and one in Mombasa.
However, Mr Shahbal said they will spread out to other parts of the country
and the region.
The bank's initial capital is Sh1.75 billion, well above the recommended
threshold of Sh1 billion. The minimum account opening balance will be
Sh3,000. The chairman said that although they will offer Sharia compliant
products, the bank is open to non-Muslims.
"The bank's objective is to revolutionise banking in Kenya by offering
Sharia compliant products, which will in many ways address the needs of not
just Muslims, but individuals and corporates seeking alternative banking
solutions." The bank will act as bridge to the abundant oil reserves capital
in the Middle East.
"We are confident the bank will raise the investment profile of the
country," said Mr Shahbal. The shareholders in the bank are Bank Muskat
International (20 per cent), Istithmar, a private equity investment wing of
government of Dubai (30 per cent), International Finance Corporation (10 per
cent), PTA Bank (5 per cent) and the balance by Gulf Cap Group and Kenyan