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High visa rejection rate hurting Africa super rich global investment

African entrepreneurs and investors ability to grow their wealth portfolios beyond the borders of the continent is being curtailed by stricter visa requirements by advanced markets.

According to Henley and Partners, the economic mobility of Africans including High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) is being hurt by lengthy visa applications, possible rejections, and long passport control queues.

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Kenya which is ranked fourth in the continent with 7,200 dollar millionaires and 16 cent-millionaires for instance, ranks 11th in Henley Passport Power Index and has access to just 0.11pc of the world’s gross domestic product compared to Mauritius and Seychelles which are ranked first and second and have access to 55.58pc and 55.22pc of the world’s GDP respectively.

“Your passport serves as a determinant of financial freedom, impacting individuals’ abilities to explore international business ventures, network efficiently, or engage in multi-national trade opportunities. Consequently, African entrepreneurs and investors are often left out of lucrative global markets, impeding their potential for economic growth and financial prosperity,” said Chidinma Okebalama, Senior Consultant at Henley & Partners Nigeria.

Kenyans make queue at a passport centre. PHOTO | File.

According to the firm, African visa applicants face far more severe restrictions compared to those from other regions, resulting in a disproportionately high rejection rate.

Despite paying billons in visa fees to various countries annually, Henley and Partners says one in three or 30pc of processed visa applications get rejected despite the continent having the lowest visa applications per capita.

“The rejection rates for African applicants for Schengen visas are generally 10pc higher than the global average, three times higher than the highest rejection rate, and ten times higher than for US-Americans. Despite justifications based on security or economic concerns, the European visa system clearly demonstrates apparent bias against African applicants,” added Prof. Mehari Taddele Maru of the European University Institute.

However to counter the biasness in visa applications, the firm says African countries could develop policies that offer residence and citizen by investment to HNWI from foreign countries which could also linked the continent’s super rich to global markets and ensure economic mobility.

This will ensure the continent shore up vital foreign capital, stimulate job creation, and foster knowledge transfer.

“This not only benefits the host nations but also provides African HNWIs and their families with enhanced global mobility and risk diversification options. Despite the challenges, Africa’s potential for wealth creation remains immense. The continent’s youthful and rapidly growing population presents a significant demographic dividend. Strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and technology could unlock human capital and drive sustainable growth,” stated Amol Prabhu, Barclays Head of Private Banking, Africa.

Africa currently has 135,200 dollar millionaires, 342 cent-millionaires and 21 billionaires.

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