A recent survey on ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in Kenya seems to suggest that Kenya’s well heeled citizens are not leaving the country in droves. According to property consultancy Frank Knight’s data, only a small percentage – less than 10% – of the all Kenyan billionaires would consider emigrating permanently at present.

Data compiled by GlobalData WealthInsight for The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2019 shows that Kenya’s number of US dollar millionaires – i.e. individuals whose net worth excluding their primary residence is $1 million or more – grew by 306 during 2018.

Given that Kenya is a developing country, one would expect these new  millionaires to be investing far more heavily in greater global mobility through second passport programs such as the St Kitts Citizenship By Investment Program, the St Lucia Economic Citizenship Program, or the Vanuatu Citizenship Program, but unlike their Nigerian counterparts, these wealthy individuals are not leaving – at least, not just yet…

Surprisingly, only 24% of Kenya’s millionaires and billionaires presently hold a second passport, however an additional 20% of this grouping are in the market for acquiring a second passport by investment or other means.

This trend is in stark contrast to the trend among Nigeria’s ultra wealthy, who are investing in second passports and golden visa residency at unprecedented levels as of 2019.

Kenya’s wealthy aren’t looking to emigrate by investment in large numbers – but when they do, the following 6 countries are on their radar:

  1. The UK: The overwhelming majority (67%) of wealthy Kenyans seeking to emigrate are interested in settling in the UK. With an investment requirement of no less than £2 million, the UK Tier 1 Immigrant Investor Visa is expensive even by UHNWI standards. Fortunately, obtaining Turkish Citizenship By Investment presents a far more affordable “back door” route into the UK: By investing only $250,000 in Turkish real estate and obtaining a Turkish passport, wealthy Kenyans can become eligible for the UK’s Turkish Businessperson Visa, whereby residency in the UK can be obtained by starting a business. As an added bonus, acquiring Turkish citizenship also brings the perk of E2 Visa eligibility, and with it the ability to access the USA.

  2. Canada: Among Kenya’s affluent, Canada is the second most popular investment destination, with 48% of UHNWIs surveyed indicating that they would choose to relocate there. Canada is a popular migration destination amongst both Nigeria’s rich and working classes. According to 2016 census data, over 68,600 Nigerians nationals were living in Canada on a permanent basis by the beginning of 2017. For the majority of these migrants, better economic opportunities and superior quality education for their children informed their decision to immigrate to Canada.

  3. The USA: Of the surveyed Kenyan respondents, 33% indicated that they would consider relocated to the USA. Yet the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) was suspended in 2019 due to backlog processing issues, leaving Kenyans who presently want to relocated to North America with the option to apply for the US EB5 Visa Program – at the new minimum investment threshold of $900,000. The EB5 Program has seen a marked uptick in demand from both Kenyans and Nigerians in 2019, and it is expected that this demand will only keep growing in 2020.

  4. Germany: Around 14% of respondents in the Knight Frank Kenya survey indicated that they would consider migrating to Germany, whom recently launched a German Golden Visa Program in Solingen as well.

  5. Only around 10% of survey respondents indicated that they would consider relocating to the UAE and Australia.

The picture couldn’t be more different in Nigeria. According to a 2017 Afrobarometer survey, 1 in 3 Nigerians would consider emigrating – and over 44% of Nigerian nationals who hold a tertiary qualification would wish to emigrate.

With the number of millionaires in Nigeria predicted to double within the next 5 years, it therefore comes as no surprise that many citizenship by investment firms are regarding Nigeria as a key growth market within the EMEA region.