Wealthy Kenyans rush to buy foreign citizenship

Eu passport to Malta
Eu passport to Malta. [photo courtesy]

There is a growing appetite among high net worth Kenyans to acquire foreign residency and citizenship

According to Marios Rafail, the Head of Geneva office for Henley & Partners, a global advisory firm working with countries and individuals on investment migration, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria have shown a huge appetite.

Henley & Partners said that before coronavirus pandemic, wealthy Kenyans – billionaires – got more passports to attain foreign residency and citizenship with the intent to ease business travel, access elite education and get a second home in case things go south in their motherland.

However, with the pandemic here, there is a rush by the elites to buy more passports in a bid to get quality healthcare in a foreign land where there are better response measures to the virus.

For the billionaires, investment migration is pegged on their ability to invest in the country of migration through government bonds, real estate, job creation or the development infrastructure.

It costs an estimated Ksh10 million to buy a passport for Antigua, Ksh45.2 million for Montenegro, Ksh142 million for Malta and Ksh388 million for Cyprus which are the top investment migration countries in Europe.

With this becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, cites H & Partners, there are now satellite offices in Lagos and two others in South Africa; Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In 2019, Nigeria and Lagos accounted for about 85% of about 100 Africans who sought the firm’s services.

In the Africa rich people index, a report compiled by Knight Frank Wealth, Kenya ranks sixth in the number of super-rich persons with an estimated 42 of them having wealth of over Ksh3 billion.

South Africa has the highest number of the super-rich with 1,033 persons followed by Egypt with 764 persons and Nigeria with 724.