Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) plans to open a Shari’ah-compliant arm in Kenya by year-end after receiving “in principle approval” from Kenyan regulators this month — marking the first of several planned moves that will see the lender expand across international markets.

“We have a global agenda, across international businesses and international geographies. It will be there on the horizon but we don’t anticipate that our international businesses will substantially contribute in 2015. There’s a gestation period,” said CEO Adnan Chilwan.

DIB will operate under the name DIB Kenya in the East African country, where the lender will hold a 70% stake in the bank while ceding a 30% to local partners pending its final license.

The comments came after DIB, the UAE’s largest Shariah-compliant lender, reported a 63% increase in profit in 2014, rising from $462m in 2013 to $762m, while its gross revenue rose by 20% from $1.44bn in 2013 to $1.71bn.

“Economists looked at 2014 to be a very challenging year for the right reasons, but we’ve grown high double digits. Our strategies went through the litmus test in 2014 and I see no reason why 2015 will be any different for us,” continued Chilwan.

DIB’s assets at the end of 2014 stood at $33.7bn, a figure 9% higher than the previous year and reflecting a higher rate of climb than the UAE economy average of 4% growth.

A growing curve

Recent weeks also witnessed Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development (ICD) purchase a 40% stake in Dakar-based Tamweel Africa Holding from Turkey’s Islamic Bank Asya.

The previous year also witnessed the first sukuk in South Africa, a $500m facility that was debuted with the assistance of Kuwait Finance House — a development that was only the third of its kind for a non-Muslim country sukuk listed in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

It has also been noted that in the sukuk market, Africa holds the greatest medium-term potential, with governments and private entities enthusiastic to tap into the Shari’ah-compliant finance mechanism to support a wide range of upcoming infrastructure projects.