A year ago, the office of Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) in the small Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia had received no applications from any Africans in its nearly five years of operations. But in the past few months, it has issued up to 60 passports to Nigerians and is reporting steady increases in applications from the country—still its sole African market. That sharp rise reflects spiking demand among Nigeria’s wealthy private citizens who are increasingly tapping into “investment migration” programs offered by foreign countries. The programs allow foreign nationals to obtain fast-tracked citizenship and passports or permanent residency permits in exchange for specified amounts of cash investments. The payment for the passports can come in form of direct “contributions” to the development funds set up by the national governments or through investment in real estate projects which offer the promise of not just passports but also possible profits. With around 40,000 passports believed to have been issued through investment migration programs globally, citizenship by investment is now estimated to be a $3 billion industry. It is often favored by high-net worth individuals from countries with “weak” passports often from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some Middle Eastern countries.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA