More South Africans are looking at leaving: here’s where they want to go

Africa continues its trajectory as a growth market for investment migration in 2022, says Amanda Smit, managing partner at Henley & Partners South Africa.

The citizenship planning firm recorded an overall increase of 18% in enquiries from African citizens seeking alternative residence and citizenship over the past 12 months.

“By early February 2022, we had already received over 11% of total 2021 enquiries, a trend we predict will continue throughout the year as wealthy investors scramble to diversify their domiciles at the same time as their investment portfolios in a bid to secure greater global access and optionality as a hedge against an unrelenting market and political volatility,” said Smit.

Zimbabwe took first place with an increase of 48% in enquiries compared to 2020. Neighbouring South Africa saw the second-highest level of growth with an increase of 40% in enquiries as well as a record-breaking year in terms of the volume of enquiries from South African citizens. Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria all averaged impressive increases in enquiries of 25%.

Investment migration programmes that offer the option of a real estate investment as a pathway to residence rights or citizenship acquisition are particularly popular among African investors, said Smit.

“International real estate has always been a reliable and attractive asset class for global investors due to its great staying power. Real estate–linked investment migration programmes have the additional advantages of enhancing your global mobility through multiple passports and expanding your personal access rights as a citizen or a resident of additional jurisdictions.

“The combined effect is increased optionality in terms of where you and your family can live, work, invest, study, and retire. The possible gains over the lifetime of the investment include the core value of the real estate asset, potential rental yields, and extended global access providing an opportunity to not only diversify assets but also create country diversification.”

The following countries are popular destinations for South Africans:

Caribbean Island Nations

According to Henley & Partners, the following island nations garnered the most interest in 2021:

Dominica offers the right to free movement and visa-free access to 144 destinations worldwide with a minimum investment donation of R1.6 million [$100,000] and a processing time of three months.

In August 2013, the parliament of Grenada passed a citizenship investment plan which offers the right to free movement to Grenada, China, Russia, Singapore, the UK, and Europe’s Schengen Area at a minimum contribution of R2.4 million [$150,000] and a processing time of three to four months.

The dual-island of St. Kitts and Nevis, offers air links to Europe and North America, pristine beaches and diverse culture with an investment of R2.4 million [$150,000] and a processing period of three-six months.


Mauritius’ residence programme allows foreign nationals to make a real estate investment into the country and apply for a residence permit.

“Successful applicants and their families are granted full residence rights including the right to live, work and retire in Mauritius,” said Henley & Partners

To gain residency, Mauritius requires a minimum real estate investment of R5.6 million [$375,000] and that you wait between two and six months for processing to be completed.


Offering citizenship in Europe and access to the euro, Montenegro since 2019 has had citizenship by investment programme that requires a minimum financial investment of R4 million [€250,000], a donation of R3.2 million [€200,000] and that you wait between six to eight months for submission of the application to be approved.


Considered one of the most globalised and peaceful nations with a high quality of life, Portugal has become the interest of many people wishing to immigrate.

As a full member of the EU, the residence allows for visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen Area and requires an average stay of just seven days a year in Portugal over the five years.

An investment of R3.2 million [€200,000] and a processing time of three to six months is required.

Read: More skilled South Africans are moving to the Netherlands

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More South Africans are looking at leaving: here’s where they want to go