Amanda Smith is the Managing Partner at Henley & Partners South Africa.
Africa continues its trajectory as a growth market for investment migration in 2022, after Henley & Partners saw an overall increase of 18% in enquiries from Africans seeking alternative residence and/or citizenship over the past 12 months. By early February 2022 we had already received over 11% of total 2021 enquiries, a trend we predict will continue throughout the year as wealthy investors scramble to diversify their domiciles at the same time as their investment portfolios in a bid to secure greater global access and optionality as a hedge against unrelenting market and political volatility. On the supply side, the Mauritius Residence by Investment Program is gaining traction as an excellent choice for both business owners and real estate investors, and there are reports of other African countries, such as Kenya, planning to launch investment migration programs.
In terms of growth markets on the continent, Zimbabwe took first place with a remarkable increase of 48% in enquiries compared to 2020. Neighboring South Africa saw the second-highest level of growth with an increase of 40% in enquiries as well as a record-breaking year in terms of the volume of enquiries from South African citizens. Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria all averaged impressive increases in enquiries of 25%.
The most popular citizenship programs enquired about in 2021 were those of the Caribbean island nations of Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Another favorite was the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program, which offers citizenship in Europe. One of the most popular residence programs for African high-net-worth investors is the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, which allows foreign nationals to make a minimum real estate investment of EUR 280,000 and apply for a residence permit. Successful applicants and their families are granted full residence rights including the right to live, work, and retire in Portugal. A Portugal Golden Residence Permit also provides the holder visa-free travel in Europe’s Schengen Area and enables eligibility to apply for citizenship after five years as a legal resident while keeping other citizenship(s). A low physical presence is required in the country (seven days during the first year of residence and fourteen days for the two subsequent years, which can count towards citizenship eligibility after five years). Portugal offers excellent international and Portuguese schools and universities with a high quality of life, a rich culture, a mild climate, and a high level of security, as well as international-quality healthcare clinics and hospitals.
Investment migration programs that offer the option of a real estate investment as a pathway to residence rights or citizenship acquisition are particularly popular among African investors. International real estate has always been a reliable and attractive asset class for global investors due to its great staying power. Real estate–linked investment migration programs have the additional advantages of enhancing your global mobility through multiple passports and expanding your personal access rights as a citizen or a resident of additional jurisdictions. The combined effect is increased optionality in terms of where you and your family can live, work, invest, study, and retire. The possible gains over the lifetime of the investment include the core value of the real estate asset, potential rental yields, and extended global access providing an opportunity to not only diversify assets but also create country diversification.
With so many attractive pull factors across the globe, we expect 2022 to be another year of growth and expansion in Africa.