By Daireann Gibson, Managing Partner at Gibson & Associates Solicitors
Ireland is becoming an increasingly popular destination for individuals from across Africa who are looking to move abroad. South Africa in particular has seen 3,000 immigrants choose Ireland as their new home, and for investors in particular, Ireland provides a wealth of opportunities.
The relationship between Ireland and the continent of Africa has long presented a lot of potential with regard to business. Plans are currently in action to increase the value of a two-way trade deal between Ireland and Africa, which is projected to be worth at least €5 billion by 2025.
Trade in goods and services between Ireland and Africa increased by 29% between 2010 and 2017, from €3.4 billion to €4.4 billion. In addition, Irish exports to Africa increased in this period by 39%, from €2.36 billion to €3.28 billion.
For investors in Africa looking to branch out to Irish shores, now could be the perfect time. In this guide, we provide the top five reasons why investing in Ireland makes sense for African businesses.
1) Ireland’s impressive track record
For Ireland, and other countries that operate Immigrant Investor Programmes (IIPs), any foreign investment must serve to improve the country’s infrastructure by creating new businesses or jobs that raise capital to boost the economy.
As a result of its attractive IIP scheme, Ireland has emerged as one of the top three most attractive countries in the world for investment, making it an ideal destination for investors in Africa to branch out to.
2) Ireland attracts world-leading companies
A selection of world-leading multinational organisations from across the globe have chosen to invest in Ireland, thereby highlighting the country’s reputation as a secure and exciting place to do business. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Pfizer and Apple have all come to Irish shores, while the country has also welcomed leading companies including:
- Top 5 software companies
- Top 10 pharmaceutical companies
- Medical companies
- Financial services firms
- Industrial automation companies
A third of multinational corporations in Ireland have operated in the country for more than 20 years, which illustrates the longevity, resilience and commitment of these businesses.
3) An Irish passport holds great power
The Irish passport is considered one of the most powerful in the world, ranking above both the United States and United Kingdom, which have seen significant declines since they shared the top spot at the same time in 2014. An Irish passport grants holders entry to 172 countries without the requirement of a visa, as well as providing access to the European Union.
Experts predict that the Irish passport will continue to be highly sought after in the coming years, due to the fact the country is:
- Both economically and politically stable
- A core member of the EU
- A safe country
In 2019, 900,000 Irish passports were issued due to a steady rise in applications from British residents since the 2016 EU referendum.
4) A strong economy
Ireland has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, second only to China. This makes it an ideal location for African investors who are looking for a safe and reliable place to do business.
It also has the fastest-growing economy in Europe, and is open to foreign capital, with a reputation for protecting investor funds. Ireland is a member of the EU Single Market and Eurozone, receiving an A grade from all major credit rating agencies.
5) One of the world’s best educators
Ireland is renowned for its education, ranking in the top 10 globally with an education system that meets the needs of a competitive economy. The country ranks in the top 10 in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, which assesses students’ skills in reading, mathematics and science.
How to invest in Ireland and obtain Irish residency
There are two simple proven routes to residency:
- Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), also known as a Golden Visa, offers high-net-worth individuals and their families an opportunity for citizenship. To qualify for the IIP, wealthy non-EU/EEA nationals must invest at least €1 million into one of four investment options:
- Enterprise investment – a minimum investment of €1 million into an Irish enterprise for at least three years
- Investment fund – a minimum of €1 million in an approved investment fund for at least three years
- Real Estate Investment Fund (REIT) – at least €2 million invested into any Irish REIT listed on the stock exchange
- Endowments – a minimum of €500,000 into a project of public benefit, such as a project in the fields of art, education, health, culture or sports
- Non-EEA nationals can also obtain residency status by bringing a high-potential start-up business to Ireland. Established in 2012, the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) is designed to stimulate productive investment in Ireland.
The programme offers residency in Ireland to dynamic business professionals with a proven track record of success. If you are approved, you and your family will be able to enter Ireland on multi-entry visas, with permission to remain in the country for defined periods of time, and the possibility of ongoing renewal.
In order to qualify for the STEP, there are a number of factors you need to keep in mind:
- You need to clearly demonstrate that you have the minimum funds that the programme requires. If you are the first founder of the start-up, this is €50,000. For any subsequent founder, this is €30,000.
- You need to include a detailed and robust business plan.
The Irish economy is robust and improving and its business environment is attractive to those willing to invest. With Brexit restricting investment in the UK, many non-EEA investors are now seeking to obtain Irish Golden Visas or join the STEP to be part of the European Union.
Ireland is one of the most reliable and attractive countries in the world in which to invest, and African businesses looking to expand to overseas markets could achieve great things by considering this country for their future operations.
Photo credit: Lucian Potlog (pexels.com). Dublin, Ireland