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Citizenship & Dual Citizenship in Africa









In the wave of independence in Africa, many African countries decided not to allow dual citizenship. The primary reason for this was because the newly independent African nations wanted to ensure loyalty to their countries as part of a nation building activity. They also wanted to control the demographic composition of their countries.  In particular, these laws targeted those within the country that were not of "African" origin. As an example, the current citizenship law in Malawi stipulates that "Every person born in Malawi after the 5th day of July, 1966 shall become a citizen of Malawi on the date of his birth if one of his parents is a citizen of Malawi and is a person of "African race" where a person of "African race" is defined as a person "who is a member of one of the indigenous peoples of Africa south of the Sahara". These laws were intended to exclude foreigners that did not want to give up the citizenship of their country of origins and to promote national unity in newly formed states.

Therefore the purpose of these types of laws were clearly intended to serve a specific purpose for newly independent African nations. Many of these laws which specified "race", gender or ethnicity as a qualifier for citizenship however, were also discriminatory. They led to many people losing their citizenship and served to render many African people stateless (without a country of citizenship). Many countries also have laws against dual citizenship that are not consistently enforced. Therefore citizenship in post-independence Africa has been and continues to be problematic and needs to be clarified. Many of these laws no longer serve the purpose that they were initially intended for or deny people of basic human rights. African states should  ensure that members of all ethnic groups resident are given equal rights to citizenship, and should ensure that those categories historically  excluded from citizenship benefits are included.

Today, globalization has given rise to a significant increase in the numbers of Africans that voluntarily migrate abroad. Dual Citizenship in Africa is now less about excluding foreigners more about including Africans who now live abroad and are part of the highly-skilled international workforce. As such many of these new migrants have began to advocate for Dual Citizenship and have been successful in getting their governments to admit that Dual Citizenship does not mean having conflicting loyalties.


Dual Citizenship has been growing in Africa over the past few years. Many African diaspora citizens have been managing to get their governments to concede that Dual Citizenship does not mean conflicting loyalties. Currently, African countries that have dual citizenship have had these approved in various ways. Many African countries have approved Dual Citizenship with restrictions or qualifications.  As an example, in many African countries dual citizens or are naturalized dual citizens may not hold specified public office. In addition, nearly 20 countries impose delays of
between 3 and 10 years before naturalized citizens can hold office which includes those that are dual citizens. Ghana recognizes Dual Citizenship for the Involuntary African Diaspora. This includes providing citizenship to qualifying African-Americans, Afro-Latinos, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Europeans and Afro-Asians that would like to repatriate to their continent of origin.


LIST OF AFRICAN COUNTRIES WITH DUAL CITIZENSHIP
 
A. The current list of countries in Africa that have some form of Dual Citizenship:
  1. Angola
  2. Benin  
  3. Burundi 
  4. Cote d'Ivoire (restrictions on holding office as president & vice-president of the republic; president and vice-president of parliament - speaker and deputy speaker of parliament).
  5. Djibouti 
  6. Egypt (with permission)
  7. Eritrea (with permission , has created an intermediary status) 
  8. Gabon
  9. Gambia
  10. Ghana  (Dual Citizens may not hold a set of listed senior positions, includes dual citizenship for the involuntary African diaspora . )
  11. Kenya 
  12. Lesotho
  13. Morocco
  14. Mozambique  
  15. Namibia
  16. Nigeria
  17. Rwanda
  18. Sao tome & Principie 
  19. Sierra Leone 
  20. South Africa (with permission/application at Dept. of Home Affairs)
  21. Togo
  22. Tunisia
  23. Uganda
B. Countries that have a bill being tabled in parliament:

1. Tanzania
2. Zambia 

3. Zimbabwe

C. African Countries that offer Dual Citizenship for the Involuntary African Diaspora:

1. Ghana

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