Mauritania Sets Eyes on Building an Islamic Money Market

MAURITANIA: Mauritania is planning to create an Islamic money market, in a move that would mark a major Shariah finance milestone for the country as well as the wider region, starved of compliant liquidity management tools.

According to state news agency Agence Mauritanienne d’Information, the Central Bank of Mauritania and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are working hand in hand to develop Shariah compliant money market instruments, in a bid to “strengthen the performance of the country’s money market, and to develop the Islamic finance industry in order to be at par with the diversity of financial products in modern economies,” central bank governor Abdel Aziz Ould Dahi was quoted as saying during a recent Islamic finance event.

Abdel Aziz however did not give a specific timeline but did reveal that the initial phase of this initiative will include the issuance of Islamic treasury bills for Islamic banks with the view of gradually introducing these instruments to conventional banks.

If the project takes off, Mauritania will be one of the very few in the African continent to be providing Islamic money market instruments. Globally, only a handful of countries have developed Islamic money markets, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brunei, the Maldives, Bahrain and Gambia.

Mauritania is home to 3.68 million people, and all are Muslims according to a government census. The country has at least five fully-fledged financial institutions and at least five banks offering Shariah compliant products on a window basis. Approximately 90% of the population is considered as unbanked.

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