KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — African countries, especially Senegal, offer immense business opportunities to exporters from various sectors as the continent grapples to meet the rising needs of an emerging economy.
As such, it is the right time for Malaysian companies to enter the African market, said Halal Development Corporation Bhd’s (HDC) chief executive officer Hairol Ariffein Sahari.
He said sectors such as food and beverages, automotive and parts, food processing and agriculture machinery, as well as information and communications technology services stand to benefit from the available opportunities.
“I would like to reiterate HDC’s willingness to work with the West African region, especially Senegal, on increasing self-sufficiency in halal food, as well as halal pharmaceuticals, halal medical devices and even halal ingredients.
“Our objective is to increase Malaysia halal exports and investment to halal parks,” he said.
He also urged multinational corporations and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the West African region to consider working together to build a stronger halal community that could reach and supply to other Muslim populations in other regions
Hairol Ariffein said this during the 6th Dakar International Islamic Finance Forum, themed “West Africa-Malaysia: Building the Bridge of Islamic Economy”.
Organised by the African Institute of Islamic Finance (AIIF) together with HDC, the Dakar International Islamic Finance Forum 2021 was held with support from the Government of Senegal as well as the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) as their strategic partner.
Hairol Ariffein noted that Senegal is one of the most politically stable countries in Africa, and is one of the fastest-growing economies in West Africa.
In August 2020, HDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AIIF to focus on consultation and advisory services to support the establishment of halal ecosystem in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, which includes knowledge sharing, promotion and awareness activities, joint research and halal training.
The smart partnership would help the Senegal government in meeting its halal agenda in developing and implementing an integrated and sustainable halal industry ecosystem, said Hairol Ariffein.
“I would like to assure the Senegal government that HDC is committed to making Senegal a gateway for the West African region by gaining international acceptance as a prominent halal industry reference centre, while simultaneously fostering strategic partnerships and alliance internationally,” he said.
He noted that Malaysia has been at the forefront in the growth of the global halal industry in terms of economic activities and social awareness.
Malaysia also became the reference point for best practices in the development of halal standards and business processes, while nurturing growth and participation of local businesses in the global halal market, he added.
“Our continued efforts to lead and drive the development of Islamic Finance, especially the Islamic Digital Economy, as well as efforts to bring together industry players and Shariah advisors to proactively engage and contribute towards the development of Malaysia’s Islamic Digital Economy, have indeed been recognised.
“As a Muslim nation with an advanced halal industry, Malaysia is always open to working with any government to further enhance and grow the global halal sector, especially in the areas of Islamic Finance, logistics and services,” he said.
Hairol Ariffein noted that Malaysia’s talent pool is full of young, educated and productive minds with the necessary skill set for science-and-service-based industries like the halal industry.
He added that moving forward, the nation plans to further strengthen the infrastructure to enhance the halal industry’s contribution to the country’s economy, which currently accounts for around 7.8 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and created over 350,000 new jobs for the people.