Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa top the list of African countries seeking residence and citizenship in foreign countries such as the US and the UK according to a recent report by Africa Wealth, with a 46% increase in enquiries in 2022.
According to Business Insider Africa, Africa is continuing its trajectory as a growth market following a 23% increase in enquiries last year. The report published by Henley & Partners highlights that South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Algeria, were among the top 20 nationalities in terms of enquiries received last year for investment migration.
The Henley Global Citizens Report Q3 2022 revealed that South Africa and Nigeria were in the top 10 countries globally in terms of applications in 2022, and other African countries generating high levels of applications were Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Uganda.
Speaking with Business Insider Africa, Weyinmi Oritsejafor, IMCM – Client Advisor, Henley & Partners UK said, “Africa’s wealthiest countries have the highest number of applicants on the continent for residence and citizenship by investment programs.”
“This gives credence to the fact that affluent African investors are looking to protect their wealth but also significantly enhance their prosperity, enabling them to leave a greater legacy for future generations,” she added.
The conundrum of the relatively weak African passport
According to Henley & Partners, many African investors are driven by the need to secure stronger passports so they can travel with relative ease, but this also enables access to a greater proportion of the global economy in terms of the GDP they gain visa-free access to. The October 2023 Henley Passport Power index, which ranks passports according to the percentage of global GDP each passport provides to its holders visa-free, revealed that passport holders of Africa’s wealthiest country with the most millionaires, South Africa, can access 107 (47%) of the world’s 227 destinations visa-free, but they account for only about 16% of the world’s GDP.
In Egypt, which has the second-highest millionaire population in Africa, Egyptians can access just 54 destinations without requiring a visa in advance, representing 24% of the globe, but they account for a mere 4% of global GDP. The country with the third highest concentration of millionaires on the continent, Nigeria, accounts for approximately 0.5% of global GDP, and Nigerian passport holders have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to only 44 out of 226 destinations worldwide, which together account for about 1.5% of the global economy.
“In terms of ease of travel, African citizens are generally at a distinct disadvantage. Compared to their European and Asian counterparts, African countries rank relatively low on the Henley Passport Index. This means they can travel to relatively few countries without first going through often complicated, expensive, and lengthy visa application processes,” Weyinmi noted.
“Improving your economic mobility and accessing a higher share of global GDP matters because it leads to greater financial freedoms that facilitate conducting business and international banking and investment, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities. Greater visa-free access to more stable economies can also mitigate country- or jurisdiction-specific risk,” she added.
Additional findings from the Africa Wealth Report 2023 confirm that the preferred programs among African families in 2022 included the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program and the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, both mandating a minimum investment of USD 250,000. Furthermore, the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program, the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program, and the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program were also popular choices, each requiring a minimum investment of USD 100,000.