Speaking during the opening of the Second Gulf African Bank Annual East and Central Africa Islamic conference in Nairobi, GAB chairman Suleiman Shahbal said the bank is pursuing licences that will see it start operations in the two East African nations.
Representatives from Bank of Uganda and Bank of Tanzania attended the conference and were expected to give advice on how GAB can successfully enter the two markets.
Shahbal said the growth of Islamic banking in Kenya in the past two years has proved its huge potential the world over.
“Countries in the region are leaning towards East African Community (EAC) integration and we want to be part of that expansion. Our strategy was to expand to East Africa after launching in Kenya, however, [those] plans were delayed by the financial crisis but now is the time to do [it],” said Shahbal.
GAB CEO Najmul Hassan said the increase in new accounts opened by both Muslims and non-Muslims has shown that the market is embracing the concept of Islamic banking.
GAB was launched in Kenya two years ago and has over 30,000 deposit accounts.
The bank is also seeking to invest in Islamic insurance, investment banking and microfinance.
“Islamic insurance is based on the principle of profit and loss sharing and should be in the market by the end of the year. Microfinance is even much more important since it is our obligation to support those who cannot access banking services. Talks and frameworks to achieve these projects are at advanced stage[s],” said Shahbal.