PRETORIA – Henley & Partners Group, a citizenship and residency advisory firm that helps the rich acquire second citizenships, will set up an office in Nigeria.
Following in the footsteps of other globally mobile nationals from China, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union, wealthy Africans represent a steadily increasing part of its business, according to the Zurich-based company. Expressions of interest in either passports or residency rights from Africans have jumped in recent years to more than 1,000 in the first quarter of this year from about 750 a year earlier, it said. Nigeria will be its second outpost in Africa.
“We have been engaging with Nigerian and West African clients for over three years now and have seen constant growth,” Dominic Volek, Henley’s head of sales, said by email. “The significant increase in wealth creation in the region has created a consequent surge in demand for our services.”
Nigeria, the largest economy and biggest crude oil producer in Africa, has more than 700 people with a net worth greater than $30 million, and that figure is forecast to grow by 13% in the next five years, Knight Frank’s 2020 Wealth Report estimates. The country, which has a population of about 200 million, also has the most people living in extreme poverty anywhere in the world, according to the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
Henley, which is setting up in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, supports people with the needed capital to secure citizenship of various Caribbean countries including St. Kitts and Nevis, that allow more widespread visa-free travel, as well as a select few European Union members such as Cyprus and Malta. Costs range from less than $200,000 for Caribbean passports — once vetted by both Henley and the government — to a contribution of more than $1 million for European nations.
Other clients opt for residency-by-investment programs offered by countries including the U.S., U.K., and Portugal. Henley is globally the largest company active in citizenship and residence planning.
The company already has a presence in Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa. Together, the continent’s two biggest economies provided about 85% of the more than 100 Africans that purchased Henley’s services in 2019, according to the firm.
Most Nigerians keen to explore Henley’s offerings make their money in their home country and have no plans to relocate. Instead, they want to have access to greater options whether for last-minute business travel or educating their children, according to Volek.
“These clients can become very wealthy but at the end of the day they are limited because of the passport that they hold,” he said.