Kenya’s New Investment Citizenship Program is Facing a Few Obstacles

Like many countries around the world, Kenya has decided to launch its own CIP (citizenship by investment) program.

It has been reported that plans have been constructed for 1 ½ years, with little signs of progress – until now.

KenIvest, which is Kenya’s Investment authority, has announced that the program is being quickly put into effect. The only apparent obstacle remaining is legalization through Kenya’s Interior Ministry, which will be sponsoring the program along with the Treasury.

Any Other Obstacles?

Yes. There’s the 2011 Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act – which does force certain standards upon investors seeking to move to Kenya.

For example, how is dual citizenship supposed to be reported? The process is unclear, and in case incorrect reporting occurs, investors risk being fined up to $46,000, or being given a 3 year prison sentence.

There are also the harsh citizenship standards set by the Act. For example, naturalization requires seven years of residency for both lawful residency and marriage. Also, mastering Swahili (a key language in Kenya) is required.

Will those standards be enforced on investors joining Kenya’s program. Or will they be exempt from them?

The answer to that seems to be in the parliament’s hands.

According to Moses Ikiara (Kenya’s Investment Authority managing director), Parliament has the power to create legislation that grants citizenship to individuals of other countries based on different sets of criteria.

This might be the case for the investment program. It might follow a different set of standards for the acceptance and naturalization of foreign investors.

What About Local Kenyan Investors?

As the trend shows, outbound migration is greater than migration into Kenya – at least for the investor market.

However, the amount of Kenyan investors applying for other citizenships is decreasing. It has decreased drastically from 2018 to 2019, which is a positive sign.

In fact, 2019 has been the year when Kenya’s intentions for a CIP program were announced, which might have sparked hopes in many of its investors for an economically friendly environment.

It’s also worthy to note that while Kenya’s opening up economically to investors, it still has many social problems that need solving. For example, Kenya’s public health and education system rank poorly. The same applies to its internal security and public safety, where local terrorism levels there are as high as South Sudan.

Another Obstacle – Kenya’s Passport Isn’t too Sought After

Kenya isn’t exactly an economic world power, nor does it come with high living standards.

As a result, its passport isn’t sought after by many investors. This puts Kenya in tough competition with many world investment programs that promise more advantages for similar prices.

To elaborate, Kenya’s passport only allows visa-free access to 71 destinations. Those destinations do not include North America or Europe, which are often important travel destinations for high net worth investors.

But, there’s still hope. A good example is Jordan’s CIP program, which is attracting investors even though it shares similar obstacles to Kenya.