According to Knight Frank Wealth report 2016, there are about 187,500 individuals worth a net of at least USD 30 Million or Kshs. 3 Billion. These are the people referred to as Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs). In simple terms these are the super wealthy individuals. Quite a number of them worth more than African countries combined!
I have been thinking about these people from an immigration perspective: where they live, reside, occasionally visit for business, leisure or any other reason. Apparently Knight Frank wealth report 2016 has this data that I wish to share with you: London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai, Paris, Sydney, Beijing & Geneva are the most important and most frequented cities by these individuals and their families. In Africa Cape Town in South Africa is one of the most visited by these super rich.
In order to give you a perspective of this, out of the 187,500 worth over 3 Billion shillings globally, only 116 live in Kenya. Out of these 105 are worth between 3 Billion to 10 Billion shillings, 10 are worth between 10 Billion and 100 Billion. Only one individual is worth over 100 Billion. On a lower level there are about 8500 individuals worth about 1 Billion in Kenya. This is not a small number and they are growing. (Knight Frank 2015, page 60)
According to Knight Frank 2016, “wealthy investors are more mobile than ever and investment flows are targeting new markets” ( p.29). When I saw this, my mind was drawn into thinking about these new markets. In Africa you can talk of South Africa in Southern Africa, Kenya in Eastern Africa and Nigeria in West Africa. The respective countries are regional powerhouses.
These are not mean feats for such countries and more needs to be invested in enhancing their positions. One of the major determinant or enabler of the UHNIs to visit, reside or invest in the cities they do has to do with Immigration. How easily can they travel, reside or invest in those countries? Some of the countries with very friendly Immigration programmes for such super rich individuals include; Santa Lucia, Malta, Australia and Portugal. (KF 2016, page 33). Santa Lucia has citizenship by investment, Malta residency by investment, Australia has premium investor and Portugal has Golden residence.
In my view, Kenya too can leverage its key strongholds like beach fronts, the Kenyan highlands, the Rift valley among other unique attractions we have in this beautiful country. One of the ways of doing this is having specific categories of residency by investments. The current classes of permits do not envisage these kinds of individuals. For example if the richest man in Africa, Sir Aliko Dangote wanted to have Kenyan residency at the moment, he would have to get an investor permit by showing proof of investments, registered company and so forth. That is not what I am talking about… I am talking about a category that recognizes that as the super-rich and may be saying if they show willingness to buy their holiday home say at the Kenya highlands or a beach front, such people could get a residency for say 10 years. My argument is that such people make their investment decisions based on such considerations…. They could be on holiday in Maasai Mara and see an opportunity of setting up investments worth billions of money and create thousands of jobs.
Quite a number of the super-rich individuals like Sir Richard Branson, Bill gates Flavio Bliatore, Golfer Tiger Woods, Model Naomi Campbell among others frequent Kenya and I believe many others that we may not know have been to Kenya and love Kenya. The government can package a bouquet of goodies like Residency, citizenship by Investments, tax breaks among others to lure these people into Kenya. Imagine if Bill gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Sir Branson and others had each a vacation home in Kenya where they frequent using their private jets without worrying about anything because they have permanent residence in Kenya. If you think this is funny…..well sorry. Many countries are luring them to go into their cities using even more generous incentives. Let’s us use our immigration incentives to facilitate such investments in line with the Kenya Immigration Department’s mission of facilitating social economic growth. Immigration is not always about control… it can also be used to our advantage. Let’s try it and see if we regret… I bet we won’t.