The true value of being South African versus other nationalities in the world

Residence and citizenship planning group Henley & Partners has released its latest Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), showing the value of being South African, versus other nationalities in the world.

According to H&P, the QNI measures more than the simple quality of a country, focusing on the opportunities and limitations that our nationalities impose on us.

The QNI measures both the internal value of nationality – which refers to the quality of life within a nationality’s country of origin – and the external value of nationality, which identifies the diversity and quality of opportunities that nationalities allow us to pursue outside our countries of origin.

Countries are ranked on a scale from 0% to 100%, with scores rounded to one decimal place.

In the 2016/17 ranking, South Africa placed 87th out of 150 states represented, with an overall value of 33%. While this falls into the latter half of the index (with South African nationality seen as a ‘medium quality’ value) it is up from 89th position in 2015/16, where the score was 30%

South Africa is also ranked fourth in Sub-Saharan Africa, just one position behind that of Cape Verde – but considerably lower down the rankings than those of Mauritius and the Seychelles, which ranked 54th and 55th respectively, and are positioned in first and second place regionally.

South Africa

South Africa’s score is lifted by internal factors like human development and having a fairly open passport – however it is held back by a weak economy and also being overly restrictive for foreigners to settle here.

“Despite its own problems, South Africa still has an enormous pull factor for economic refugees,” said immigration and business expert, Andreas Krensel, adding that country faces big problems with illegal immigrants, which have led to some social issues, and have been used as a basis to keep borders closed to other African nations.“Whereas the number of regular migrants is easy to obtain, the scope of irregular migration is much more difficult to measure and reliable statistics are not available,” he said.

“The estimates range between 2.2 and 5 million illegal migrants in South Africa, or in percentages, between 5% and 10% of the country’s population. With an unemployment rate of over 30% (reaching over 60% in certain areas), illegal immigration is a hot topic.”

According to Krensel, the limitations to freedom of travel must be viewed in this context. South Africa has often expressed unwillingness to open up its borders, citing illegal immigration as the main argument.

Over time, however, it can be expected that the political will of the AU will lead its Member States to relax their visa requirements for other AU Member States. Ghana set an example by introducing visa-on-arrival for citizens from all African states in July 2016, Krensel said.

These are the top 20 nationalities in the SSA region

Globally, Germany again ranks as the ‘best’ nationality in the world, followed by France and Denmark. According to H&P, Afghanistan is the worst off, just below the Central African Republic and Eritrea.

“Nationality plays a significant role in determining our opportunities and aspirations, and the QNI allows us to analyse this objectively,” said Nigel Barnes, Managing Partner at Henley & Partners South Africa.

“The QNI is a vital resource for financially independent individuals who wish to acquire the benefits of dual citizenship as it provides assistance in making important decisions regarding where to live and raise a family, do business, and enjoy a satisfying global lifestyle — in other words, to define their futures,” he said.

According to Barnes there is a growing trend towards individuals wanting to live a more mobile life where they can take advantage of opportunities internationally and make a contribution on a global level.

For South Africans, the desire for global mobility, additional security, and a better quality of life is further fueling the demand for residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs, he said.

This has been exacerbated by local issues like credit ratings downgrades, the volatile political and social climate, and concerns about the sustainability of sectors such as education.

“For business owners and professionals who hold a passport from a country with limited visa waiver agreements like South Africa, a second citizenship offers enhanced access to the global market,” Barnes said.

“It also gives families more control over their future as the additional settlement rights can provide access to countries with greater political and economic security, as well as educational opportunities.”

Read: The 10 easiest countries for South Africans looking to buy their emigration

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The true value of being South African versus other nationalities in the world