Growth networks and communication to foster sustained economic growth,

Growth
prospects and development priorities of economies in the region are uniquely
diverse. The common theme that shows up in Asia’s emerging economies is the
demand for quality infrastructure such as transportation, energy networks and
communication to foster sustained economic growth, improve public health
systems, and reduce poverty. Despite rapid economic growth and increased
prosperity across the region in recent years, widespread poverty and
development challenges such as income gaps, human development,
industrialization and expansion of infrastructure still remain part of the
agenda for the developing Asian economies.  These also needs bring forth various
opportunities for Islamic finance to tap.

Asia’s
economic growth is outshining other parts of the world, and the region is set
to remain the largest contributor to global growth. According to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), regional output is projected to grow 5.6%
and 5.5% in 2017 and 2018 respectively, underpinned by strong consumption and
investment. Against
the backdrop of Asia’s continued economic growth, there are numerous factors
that will support the growth of Islamic finance in the region. Asia is the
largest and most populous continent in the world, housing roughly 60% of the
world’s current population1.
Asia’s favourable demographics, with its growing affluent middle class and
large young population, has created a new generation of consumers. Coupled with
the fact that Asian households have one of the highest savings rates in the
world, there is tremendous opportunity to bring Shariah compliant financial
services to over 4.4 billion people living in the region. In addition, Islamic
finance promotes financial inclusion by offering vehicles for savings,
financing, and insurance to large Muslim populations, particularly the poor and
vulnerable in rural areas. According to World Bank’s 2014 Global Findex data,
only 46% of adults have an account in South Asia, while in East Asia &
Pacific, the percentage is higher at 69% of adults having an account.

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1 United Nations Population Prospects
2017