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President Museveni Officially Launches Salaam Bank, Pledges Expansion of Islamic Banking in Uganda

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Museveni launches Salaam Bank

By Gad Masereka

On Wednesday, March 27th, 2024, President Yoweri Museveni took a historic step for Uganda’s banking industry when he officially launched Salaam Bank, the first Islamic bank in the country.

Salaam Bank Uganda, a subsidiary of the Djibouti-based Salaam Group, received its license from the central bank in September 2023 following the passage of legislation by Uganda’s parliament to authorize Islamic banking, a move that President Museveni promptly signed into law.

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President Museveni emphasized in his speech at the launch ceremony the significance of Salaam Bank’s founding in addressing the financial requirements of the Muslim community in Uganda. He admitted the long-standing complaints of Muslims who felt neglected by conventional banks since they did not provide products that complied with Sharia law in Islam.

President Museveni said, “This is a big market,” highlighting the 48 million people living in Uganda and estimating that number to reach 106 million in the following 26 years. Given that Islamic banking has the potential to make a substantial contribution to Uganda’s financial system, he indicated that he was open to the concept of adding more Islamic banks to the country.

President Museveni reaffirmed his commitment to resolving any inconsistencies between Islamic beliefs and current government activities. In order to make sure that programs like the Parish Development Model (PDM) adhere to Islamic beliefs or allow Muslims to access cash through Salaam Bank, he promised to interact with Muslim leaders whom he called to statehouse after the Easter season.

President Museveni declared, “We encourage income-generating activities to fight poverty and improve livelihoods.” He listed important industries as opportunities for generating wealth, highlighting commercial agriculture, manufacturing, services, and ICT. He also emphasized the significance of government actions facilitating capital accessibility.

President Museveni also thanked the Office of the National Chairman (ONC),Hajjat Hadijah Namyalo and her team for their efforts in bringing the Muslim community together and organizing it.
During her speech, Museveni’s Senior Presidential Advisor on Political Affairs, Hajjat Namyalo, commended the President for his backing of Islamic banking, calling it an answer to prayer for Uganda’s Muslim community.
Now that Salaam Bank is up and running, Hajjat Namyalo pledged to support President Museveni in the impending general elections of 2026 and expressed confidence in the prosperity of Uganda’s Muslim community.
At the inaugural occasion, President Museveni was thanked by Sheikh Erias Kigozi, who spoke on behalf of Muslims, for helping to establish Salaam Bank.
Kigozi praised the bank’s goal to  expand its operations throughout the continent, emphasizing how it may help the Muslim community in Uganda.

Salaam Bank’s board chairman, Mr. Ibrahim M. Abdirahman, thanked President Museveni for his steadfast support and emphasized the bank’s dedication to inclusive financial growth and economic empowerment in Uganda. He declared his intention to sell bonds that adhere to Sharia law, giving the government funding for infrastructure initiatives.

Religious leaders, as well as government representatives from Djibouti and Uganda, attended the ceremony on behalf of Salaam Bank.

Islamic banking presents a distinctive approach to financial services since it is based on ideas that forbid interest payments and encourage profit-sharing. In line with Islamic principles of justice and social responsibility, it promotes openness, collaboration, and moral behavior.

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