In an effort to attract foreign investors, the Kenyan government has launched an ‘easy path to citizenship’ program that will enable investors to become citizens.

The 60-day Rapid Results Initiative Programme (RRI) was launched at Nyayo House, home to the Department of Immigration, where Cabinet Secretary and Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development, Hon. Betty Maina, spoke and encouraged foreign investors to enter the country and become full Kenyan citizens.

The program is aimed at accelerating the citizenship process and clearing the backlog of active citizenship applications at the Immigration Department. All applications will be moved to an online platform from June 2nd to July 31st and through the program, investors will be able to apply for citizenship in just 60 days.

The Cabinet Minister motivated all foreign investors, with overdue applications, to revisit their applications through the new system and called for the Department’s Director General to make the process more effortless.

These are the current laws to qualify for Kenyan citizenship:

– A person who has been married to a citizen for at least seven years is entitled, on application, to be registered as a citizen.

– A person who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years, and who satisfies the conditions prescribed by an Act of Parliament, may apply to be registered as a citizen.

– A child who is not a citizen, but is adopted by a citizen, is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen.

One should also note the government’s previously issued Treasury’s Legal Notice, No.15 on May 20, 2018. This exempts Japanese companies and employees from local taxation.

This comes in conjunction with another bid to attract more foreign direct investment; Kenya will also waive the visa requirements for investors from Tanzania. President Uhuru Kenyatta announced this on Wednesday, May 4, 2021 at the State house in Nairobi, during a two-day State visit between Kenya and Tanzania with newly elected Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Relations between the two countries have often been tense, particularly under Tanzania’s late President John Magufuli.

At times, during his term, officials would exchange trade restrictions between the countries in an almost petty manner. The previous Covid-19 rules meant that Tanzania was denied access to Kenya, which negatively impacted business relations between the two states. In an effort to relieve that, current Tanzanian president Hassan introduced a waiver, with the promise that her government has begun tax and business reforms that will be of convenience to Kenyan investors in Tanzania. “We would like to see many investors from Tanzania coming to do business in Kenya…”, “Tanzanian investors are free to come and do business in Kenya without being required to have business visas or work permits…”, “The only thing you will be required to do is to follow the laid down regulations and the laws…” Are some of the things President Kenyatta said with confidence during his statement at the meeting.

In addition, the two Heads of State signed two project agreements; one for the completion of electricity transmission and road construction projects that both countries are carrying out together. The other to accelerate the process for the construction of a natural gas pipeline that links Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s commercial capital) to Kenya’s port city of Mombasa.

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By Christian Mpazayabo