In a monumental move for African-Caribbean relations, Helen Prest Ajayi, a Nigerian lawyer, has been appointed the non-executive director of the Bank of Nevis International Trust Services LTD (BONITS).
BONITS specialises in global migration investment, a sector prominent in St Kitts and Nevis, which pioneered the popular Citizenship by Investment Programme. BONITS has offices in the Eastern Caribbean and across the globe in regions like West Africa and East Africa. It is also affiliated with the Bank of Nevis, which recently opened its first branch in Basseterre, St Kitts. The historical moment symbolised an era of indigenous banking in the region, ending the Royal Bank of Canada’s presence in the Eastern Caribbean.
On her appointment, Ajayi said: “I have long been an advocate for financial inclusion as I believe that lack of access to global financial opportunities is a major challenge for development and growth.”
“I look forward to bringing my experience to bear to help the company fulfil its mission of enabling more people to have access to global investments with greater global mobility,” she said.
African-Caribbean Diplomatic Relations
Throughout the last few years, the dual-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis has committed itself to strengthening its diplomatic relations worldwide – particularly in Africa. This includes establishing ties with Djibouti, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, Eswatini, Gabon, and Mozambique, with several more in the pipeline.
Foreign Minister Mark Brantley has spoken about the importance of deepening relations between the two continents:
“We have talked about a closer connection with Africa. We are of Africa, and many, I believe, have agreed that there ought to be a closer nexus between the Caribbean and Africa and that we ought in every sense to be a part of the so-called sixth region of Africa.”
A Shared Identity
The relationship between Africa and the Caribbean is one of shared culture, history, and identity stemming from the transatlantic slave trade. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas and Caribbean as slaves, leading to one of the world’s largest diasporas.
Due to these historical bonds, the two regions recognise the potential for future collaboration. Last year, a geopolitical group known as AfCar was formed between CARICOM states and the African Group, aiming to deepen ties between the two continents economically, socially, and culturally.
Recently, the group – comprised of sixty-eight member states – released its first joint statement at the UN General Assembly to mark the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade.
“The horror of slavery separated 12 million Africans from the motherland and created a diaspora in the Caribbean. Separated from our families, now we are standing here reunited with one voice. Given this historic reality and linkage, it is indeed fitting that AfCAR’s first statement within the United Nations should come as we commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” said Ambassador Carolyn Birkett of Guyana in her address.
St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme
In recent years, the ties between the two regions have increasingly grown due to the number of African investors seeking out Caribbean citizenship. With the popularity of citizenship by investment programmes skyrocketing globally, St Kitts and Nevis – citizenship by investment’s birthplace – has become a top destination for high net-worth African individuals.
Established in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme is considered a ‘Platinum Standard’ brand within the investment migration realm due to its longevity, quick processing, and stringent due diligence. Applicants who choose St Kitts and Nevis not only gain access to citizenship but increased travel freedom to nearly 160 destinations, alternative business prospects, and most importantly, a safe and secure second home.
What Experts Say About St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship Programme
According to Les Khan, CEO of St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Unit, Africans have several incentives to acquire second citizenship. “Not only do people want to overcome travel visa limitations, but they also want to be able to go someplace peaceful and beautiful at any given moment, independently of international turmoil. This is why security for citizens, particularly in these uncertain political times, is very important to us,” he said.
With many African nations grappling with the economic fallout of COVID-19 and rampant political crisis, those who are privileged enough to seek out greener pastures are progressively doing so in a region that reflects some of the culture and history of their home nation.