The Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) plans to change immigration laws to fast-track the acquisition of citizenship for investors and wealthy foreigners rather than follow the tedious procedure stipulated in the law.
The agency said that the move would enable foreign investors to create job opportunities and expand the economy, especially after it has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Listening to key policymakers, there’s really no opposition to it. We are currently drafting documents which will be sent to the Ministry of Interior who will coordinate with the Treasury and push it to the Cabinet for consideration and approval," KenInvest Managing Director Moses Ikiara said.
"We cannot wait for other agencies to spearhead this much-needed change. We, therefore, saw it necessary to act and also engage other agencies and stakeholders," he added.
The law currently dictates that a foreigner can be a Kenyan citizen by naturalisation or registration. A person who has been a resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years, and who satisfies the conditions prescribed by an Act of Parliament, may apply to be registered as a citizen.
A person who has been married to a citizen for a period of at least seven years is also entitled on application to be registered as a citizen.
The Constitution of Kenya and the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011 permit dual citizenship. Kenyan citizens who have acquired other nationalities are required to disclose their other citizenship by applying and submitting requisite forms.
KenInvest is borrowing a leaf from other countries which allow wealthy foreigners to apply for citizenship from the perspective of being prospective investors.
In countries such as Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program allows foreigners to secure passports and reside in the countries.
In December 2020, a report by Henley & Partners, a global residence and citizenship advisory firm stated that Kenyans were among rich businessmen spending over Ksh 330 million on purchasing citizenship in the Caribbean Islands.
It had been reported that wealthy Kenyans have injected their capital into foreign countries after fearing that the Kenyan economy would collapse.