Muslim countries are today faced with five great challenges, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in his opening remarks during the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WEIF) in Jakarta on Tuesday (2/8).
He said these challenges are terrorism, economic downturn, inequality and outdated technology. This year, global trade has been at its lowest since World War II. This was triggered by the change in Chinese economic policy from investment-based to consumer-driven.
This was followed by the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). This created new monetary uncertainties, prompting many central banks to reduce their basis interest rate to below zero. (Read: Sri Mulyani’s Three Measures to Drive the MSME Sector).
“Of US$ 10 trillion worth of government bonds circulating globally, two thirds have an interest rate of below zero percent,” the President said at the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC).
He added that terrorism has been a challenge in some parts of the world. Political conditions have become harder to predict. Poverty and inequality are another challenge for Muslim economies. (Read: Jokowi’s Government Still Faces Economic Risks).
These conditions prompted Jokowi to advise the global Muslim community to use the strength of its fundamentals to address these challenges. For example, the majority of younger Muslims aged 23-33 years old should be the world’s biggest consumers.
Muslim countries should also take advantage of the sharia finance industry, now worth millions of US dollars, because there is keen interest in sharia instruments, such as sukuk and sharia banking. However, strong innovation and consistency are needed to address these challenges. (See infographic: The Ailing Poor)
Because in todays’ integrated world, there is a battle of perceptions that can be won only by those who understand technology, either through the media, social media or other communication networks. “We are living in an age when innovation is a must. An age full of unprecedented instability and income inequality.”