Citizenship by Investment for African Nationals

African Business, November 2018 | Go to article overview

Citizenship by Investment for African Nationals


Who wants to be a citizen of just one country when you can be a citizen of the world? The increasingly trendy investor immigration scene is becoming a way of life for the savvy African investor.

Second citizenship for Africans

A survey conducted last year by CS Global Partners--an international legal consultancy specialising in residence and citizenship solutions --has found that 2/3 of South African nationals are researching second citizenship. This is due to the turbulent political and economic environment in the region. The research found that 87% of respondents who do not currently have dual citizenship and 96% of participants in the survey would like a second citizenship.

Furthermore, 45% said that they would invest at least 5% of their annual salary to gain a second citizenship, while 70% declared that they would be willing to relocate if they had a second passport. Of those wanting to relocate, 60% cited their family's future as a motivating factor, while 50% said that a second passport provided a' "plan B" that added security pending South Africa's future. CEO of CS Global Partners, Micha-Rose Emmett, commented that "in an increasingly unstable world of political and economic turmoil, people are looking for alternate citizenship as a backup plan, in case the situation changes in their home country." She added that "the results are consistent with the conversations we typically have with clients and stakeholders across the globe. People want to know that their families--and all that they have worked hard to achieve--will be safe and secure not just today, but well into the future."

Second citizenship can be obtained in a variety of ways, with some paths more commonly travelled than others. Traditional options include birth within a nation's recognised territory, descent, marriage, or long-term residence. Increasingly, however, individuals and families from around the world are looking at a more time-efficient path to guarantee their physical security, financial stability or a more global lifestyle. These desires can be achieved through citizenship by investment (CBI).

What is citizenship by investment?

Also known as "economic citizenship", CBI is, to some extent, an exclusive means of acquiring second citizenship of a country you may have had no connection with beforehand. It is a legal process, entrenched in legislation, whereby an applicant is awarded citizenship in return for a significant investment into a nation's economy.

It was first introduced as a concept by the Caribbean twin-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis in 1984 and is still successfully running today, dubbed as the Platinum Standard of CBI programmes. Citizenship by investment provides a direct route to legally acquiring citizenship via an investment or contribution to the adoptive country's socio-economic development. Importantly, especially for the Caribbean nations, citizenship can only be acquired if the investor passes the strict due diligence criteria set by their desired host country.

Today, there are just over a dozen jurisdictions around the world that have official government-led, legitimate programmes. At the same time, however, and in contrast to more typical ways of achieving second citizenship, it is also more open: allowing investors to apply even if they do not necessarily have a previous connection to a nation, or a deep-set understanding of its culture and history. African nationals are generally eligible to obtain second citizenship of any of the current active programmes, provided they meet all the requirements.

Access to economic citizenship is contingent on the individual's ability to provide a nation with a significant monetary contribution, driving economic growth and ensuring future prosperity. In practice, this means that most CBI countries do not impose residence or travel requirements, mandatory interviews, or language requirements. …

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