Wealthy Kenyans are seeking second homes in St Kitts and Nevis, a two-island county in North America. Reason? Its education system is better, it is affordable to get citizenship because the investment requirement is fairer than in other countries and it is crypto-friendly hence attractive to technology investors and entrepreneurs.
St Kitts and Nevis is home to some of the top most sought-after medical institutions and enrolment in high school is 91 percent, meaning that if a Kenyan passes security checks, invests a minimum of Sh23.6 million to Sh35.4 million ($200,000 to $300,000) in real estate, they can pass their citizenship to their children who would benefit from upper-class education and healthcare.
Henley & Partners, a leading international citizenship and residence advisory firm, says in 2022 Kenyans are showing interest in investment migration programmes as opposed to migration destinations, meaning that they want to diversify their investments but also have a second home in another country.
“The most popular programme Kenyans have been enquiring about is St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment. St. Lucia, Switzerland, and the UK are also popular among Kenyans. Kenya is sixth on the continent in terms of web enquiries received by Henley & Partners in 2022. The top five are Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco,” said Dominic Volek, the group head of private clients.
The most popular programmes in terms of sales to Kenyans are also St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia, all islands.
For Kenyans who succeed in getting St Kitts and Nevis citizenship, it opens a wealth of opportunities. They have the freedom to travel, the right to live and work in the country, and the option to pass down citizenship for generations to come, CG Global Partners, which also specialises in residency and citizenship by investment said.
For years, Cyprus has been the most favoured by Kenyans. Kenyan-Cypriots enjoy reduced-cost or free healthcare and education, and visa-free travel to about 160 countries. Cyprus has no language test and St Kitts and Nevis is English-speaking, meaning ease in doing business and transition to new schools. Its culture is also mixed, with African, British, Carib, and French influences.
Destinations that traditionally attracted wealthy investors are losing their lustre. The UK, for instance, is expected to lose about 1,500 millionaires in 2022 due to Brexit and rising taxes. The US is also not so attractive to a majority of migrating millionaires, the Henley & Partners data shows, owing in part to the threat of higher taxes.
The UAE is expected to attract the largest number of high-net-worth individuals in 2022. Approximately 4,000 millionaires will move there this year, most of them from Russia, India, Africa, and the Middle East, Henley & Partners forecast.
Kenya has 8,500 high net worth individuals, those who have over $1 million (Sh118.2 million), 340 multimillionaires, those who have over $10 million (Sh1 billion), and 15 centimillionaire who have over $100 million (Sh11.8 billion). It has no dollar billionaire but Morocco has three, South Africa five, Egypt seven, and Nigeria four.
Mauritius is the hotspot for super-rich emigrants in Africa. According to the Africa Wealth Report 2022, Mauritius is now home to 4,800 high-net-worth individuals compared to 2,700 a decade ago. Approximately 150 millionaires are expected to move to Mauritius this year alone, mainly from South Africa and Europe.
“Countries that draw affluent individuals and families to migrate to their shores tend to be robust, with low crime rates, competitive tax rates, and attractive business opportunities,” Mr Amoils said.
Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, a South African wealth intelligence firm, said the citizenship by investment programme by Kenya launched a few years ago was yet to get much traction. “We are aware that there was talk of Kenya developing one, but don’t have any details about it,” he told the BDLife.
Kenya hopes to use the programme to inject money into some sectors of the economy.