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Economy

Kenya offers citizenship in investor push

Peter Munya
Industry and Trade Secretary Peter Munya (centre), PS Francis Owino (left) and KenInvest chairman Dennis Waweru during launch of the policy guide in Nairobi on November 6, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Kenya is mulling giving citizenship to wealthy investors in a new push to enhance direct foreign investment (FDI) flows, the country’s investment promotion agency said on Wednesday.

High net worth investors, whose enterprises are appraised to have high impact on new jobs and exports earnings, will be allowed to automatically apply for citizenship, under the new proposals.

Immigration laws presently require a foreigner to continuously live in the country for at least seven years to qualify for citizenship by registration.

Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) said the plan is to gift such investors with a permanent residence status after vetting, an equivalent of the Green Card in the US.

Moses Ikiara, KenInvest managing director, said the agency held “positive discussions” with Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i with a view to developing a framework to ensure the vetting is watertight and free from abuse.

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“If somebody has created impact and you can see the jobs created why don’t we extend an incentive to them and say we invite to be our citizen in three, two years,” Dr Ikiara said. “Giving incentives to those people with a lot of money could be among the non-monetary incentives.”

The proposal is part of targeted interventions the country intends to implement under its first ever investment policy, unveiled Wednesday, nearly five years since its formulation started.

Officials said the Kenya Investment Policy seeks to guide attraction, facilitation, retention, monitoring and evaluation of the impact of private investments at national and county levels.

Under the new framework, investors will be offered conditional incentives tailored at unique needs of their respective sectors, including land banks in partnership with the county governments.

This will be guided by the proposed National Investment Council to be chaired by the with representation from the private sector.

“This is the key document that contains the policy that brings certainty and stability in terms of investment environment,” Industry and Trade Secretary Peter Munya said.

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