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Business Day Webinar

Why South Africans look to dual citizenship to diversify wealth in uncertain times

Considering the ongoing pandemic and the economic crisis it has brought on with it, many are seeking alternative citizenship because they realise the importance of safety and security that comes with dual nationality.  

In South Africa, a new trend, known as citizenship by investment (CBI), has emerged. CBI is a means for vetted foreigners and their families to gain citizenship after making an economic contribution to a country. In most cases, the process takes just months, and generally, travel to the country is not required.  

To discuss this phenomenon further, CS Global Partners’ Micha Emmett, who is a dual-qualified lawyer, joined an online conversation with Business Day host Alishia Seckam. Emmett explained why South Africans seek security through second citizenship and the many other benefits that come with this additional layer of protection.

“We’ve seen with this pandemic, not just in South Africa, but across the world globally, we have seen how people have been affected by decisions that governments have made,” said Emmett. “So, as individuals and as smart and astute investors, I think people around the world are realising in order to have that access, one of the best assets on the list is to get an alternative citizenship.”

A popular option for many South Africans looking into offshore investments for citizenship is the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis. In 1984, the country became the first to establish such a citizenship by investment programme. Advantages of having St Kitts and Nevis citizenship include access to international business markets, visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry into nearly 160 destinations, and the ability to pass on citizenship for generations to come.

Maarten Ackerman, advisory partner and chief economist of Citadel, also joined the webinar and emphasised the importance of second citizenship in the current economy to generate wealth diversification. “[Second citizenship] is really about making sure that you get exposure to the global landscape.”

Lastly, Les Khan, CEO of Citizenship by Investment Unit for the Government of St Kitts and Nevis, also chimed in to better explain the details of the CBI process. Only after applicants and their dependants are thoroughly vetted by multiple parties can they invest, he said. Khan also said that St Kitts and Nevis holds the record in the industry for having a fast-track process that commonly awards investors citizenship in less than 60-days.

“We expect that our programme will continue to be the leader in innovativeness and in all CBIs at this point in time,” he said.

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