Access to world class education has become a key driver in the demand for a second citizenship or residency not just for wealthy South Africans, but for the wealthy from key hubs across East and West Africa.
Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist in residency and citizenship by investment planning for private clients, says that she has seen a notable rise in South Africans making a second citizenship choice, stating their decision was based on access to world-class higher education opportunities for their children.
We are also seeing this amongst wealthy Nigerians, Kenyans and many more.
The demand for an international education is an obvious driver of the demand from up north, while South Africa’s weak economic outlook and growing political instability is the driver here according to Ms Read Thaele.
It is no secret that outside of the USA, the UK and Europe are home to some of the best private schools and tertiary educational institutions, not just academic, but also artistic. 31 Universities in Europe ranked amongst the world top 100 along with 43 from the USA.
Some of the top educational destinations are the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France, but there are many countries across Europe that are sought after, she says. Spending time in the UK, Switzerland and France are for example a major advantage for top ranked for chefs.
A stint in France for art and literature students is very valuable, and for engineering and technology, Germany ranks tops. The Financial Times ranks Europe’s business schools amongst the top in the world (together with those of the USA) and for medical studies too, the top ranked institutions of Europe are on the list of highly desired institutions.
In a world of globalisation where South Africa and other African countries are increasingly taking their place in a highly competitive world, skills and superior educational credentials are going to be what sets you apart when it comes to those highly prized corporate boardroom positions, she says.
However, as a foreign student, you are likely to be saddled with significant, often prohibitive costs. This is where obtaining residency or citizenship of the Eurozone for example holds significant benefits. Aside from the many other benefits, Ms Read Thaele says that it will enable you to pay same rates as citizens of the country or Eurozone for example.
Ms Read Thaele, who has assisted many South African families with all of the intricacies of citizenship-by-investment says that the wealthy are looking for a foothold in a top international location. The most prized are of course the USA, UK and Eurozone, but she says that these come at a hefty price, often requiring a minimum investment of around EUR 1 million.
For business owners who travel extensively, a second citizenship can open many global doors. Freedom of mobility and travel allows flexibility and ease of movement, as visa restrictions become more stringent and restrictive to South African business executives. She says that it also makes establishing offshore companies and opening bank accounts easier with less hoops to jump through.
The drive towards greater access to the European Union for education and business as well as leveraging offshore investment opportunities, has boosted many markets. London for example has seen a significant influx of wealthy Russian and Chinese buyers while, she adds, Sydney in Australia has seen an influx of Chinese especially.
For most South Africans it is about access and gaining a foothold in the global market, rather than emigration. They are keeping their options open and almost all families we assist, are not looking to physically emigrate. They also now have access to a wide selection of citizenship-by-investment programmes.
European Union countries are very attractive, says Ms Read Thaele. Options include Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Hungary and Malta. Malta is particularly appealing as you can acquire a full EU citizenship in as little as 14 months, Cyprus in 4.
However, she adds, Malta’s offer is capped at 1800 investors and costs just over one million Euros. While not an option for everyone’s bank balance, it is a perfect solution for people whose financial strength could guarantee their child a top notch international education.