Kenya dangles ‘Green Card’ to wealthy foreigners

Kenya is considering giving citizenship to wealthy investors in a new push to enhance direct foreign investment (FDI) flows.
Big-ticket investors, whose enterprises prove to have a high impact on new jobs and export earnings, will not be required to continuously live in Kenya for at least seven years to apply to become citizens.
Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) said yesterday the plan is to gift such investors with a permanent residence status after vetting, an equivalent of the Green Card in the US.
Immigration laws presently require a foreigner to continuously live in the country for at least seven years to qualify for citizenship by registration.
Moses Ikiara, KenInvest managing director, said the agency has held positive discussions with Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i with a view to developing a framework to ensure the vetting is watertight and free from abuse.
Create impact
“If somebody has created an impact and you can see the jobs created,why do we extend an incentive to them and say we invite you to be our citizen in three, two years,” Dr Ikiara said. “Giving incentives to those people with a lot of money could be among the non-monetary incentives.”
The proposal is part of targeted interventions the country intends to implement under its first ever investment policy, unveiled Wednesday after nearly five years since the process of its formulation started.
Officials said the Kenya Investment Policy seeks to guide attraction, facilitation, retention, monitoring and evaluation of the impact of private investments at national and county levels.
Under the new framework, investors will be offered conditional incentives tailored at unique needs of their respective sectors, including land banks in partnership with the county governments.
Investment environment
This will be guided by the proposed National Investment Council to be chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta with representation from the private sector.
“This is the key document that contains the policy that brings certainty and stability in terms of investment environment,” Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said.
“One of the chapters in this policy is … negative lists meaning that we are protecting particular sectors which will be left to local investors only,” he added.
The current minimum capital requirement of $100, 000 (Sh10.3 million) for foreigners will also be reviewed, Dr Ikiara said.
Direct investment
Kenya’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows rose 27.53 per cent in 2018 to hit a fresh high of Sh164.84 billion, according to the World Investment 2019 report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in June.

by Constant Munda

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