Dr. Bronwen Manby, Senior Visiting Fellow, LSE Human Rights and Senior Visiting Fellow, Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa— Written evidence (LTN00011) 

 

1.                                   I am an independent consultant and senior policy fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. My principal area of expertise is in comparative citizenship law and statelessness, especially in Africa.

2.                                   Among the 54 states in Africa, there are only one or two where the citizenship law specifically mentions a test in relation to proof of civic integration in order to naturalise, usually in relation to language knowledge.

3.                                   However, requirements to show assimilation into the national community are common: see the table below, which is taken from my report Citizenship Law in Africa: A Comparative Study (Open Society Foundations, 3rd edition, 2016).

4.                                   I don’t have detailed comparative knowledge of the ways in which these requirements are applied, but in most cases naturalisation is within the discretion of the executive – although in some cases courts are involved in certifying that the conditions are fulfilled (eg Guinea, Liberia), or citizenship boards advise or decide on naturalisation (eg Uganda, Ghana), or officials from local government structures at different levels must indicate their consent (eg Nigeria, Tanzania). Proof of integration would in most cases include statements in support from community leaders, etc.

5.                                   Naturalisation is very rare in practice in all African states, largely due to the common requirement to prove ‘legal’ residence. A substantial proportion of those residents who are considered to be non-citizens (many of them born in the country) do not have such documents, and therefore cannot fulfil the conditions. Fees also place naturalisation out of reach.1

6.                                   I maintain the Citizenship Rights in Africa website, which consists of a database of news stories, reports, legislation, court judgments, and other documents relating to nationality and statelessness in Africa, including resources relating to acquisition of nationality by naturalisation: please see the “search the database” menu tab.

7.                                   The Global Citizenship Observatory (GlobalCit), a project of the European University Institute, has developed a database on modes of acquisition of citizenship (to which I contributed), which provides comparative information from across the world. If you search mode of acquisition A06d – ordinary (residence-based) naturalisation / civic integration – you will find listed all those countries that have such a condition for naturalisation. You can download a version of the database in Excel, for easier manipulation.

 

06 May 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


1               See Bronwen Manby, “Naturalisation in African states: Its past and potential future”, Citizenship Studies Vol.25, No.4, 2021, pp.514-542.


Extracted, updated and adjusted version of table 6 in Citizenship Law in Africa: A Comparative Study (Open Society Foundations, 3rd edition, 2016).

 

Country

Language / cultural requirements for naturalisation

Algeria

Assimilation into Algerian community

Angola

Civic and moral guarantees of integration into Angolan society; sufficient knowledge of Portuguese as shown in a test; show a sufficient link to the national community through knowledge of the people and the nation, as shown in a test; and adequate knowledge of the rights and duties of citizens in the constitution

Benin

assimilation into Beninois community, in particular sufficient knowledge of a Beninois language or French

Botswana

Sufficient knowledge of Setswana or any language spoken by any “tribal community” in

Botswana

Burkina Faso

 

Burundi

Attachment to Burundi and assimilation with Burundian citizens

Cameroon

Cameroon the centre of his/her principal interests

Cape Verde

 

CAR

 

Chad

 

Comoros

Assimilation into the Comorian community

Congo Republic

Assimilation into the Congolese community

Côte d’Ivoire

 

Dem. Rep. Congo

Speak one of the Congolese languages; must maintain clear cultural, professional, economic, emotional or familial links with the DRC

Djibouti

Assimilation, in particular sufficient knowledge of one of the languages used

Egypt

Knowledge of Arabic; preferential access if of Arab and Muslim heritage

Equatorial Guinea

 

Eritrea

Understand and speak one of the languages of Eritrea

Ethiopia

Able to communicate in any one of the languages spoken by the nations/nationalities of the Country

Gabon

 

Gambia

 

Ghana

Speak and understand an indigenous language; assimilated into Ghanaian way of life

Guinea

Assimilation to the Guinean community, including knowledge of a national language, as well as Guinean history, culture and society, and adhesion to the values and essential principles of the republic (assessed by a first instance tribunal)

Guinea Bissau

Basic knowledge of and identification with Guinea-Bissau’s culture

Kenya

Adequate knowledge of Kenya and of the duties and rights of citizens; able to understand and speak Kiswahili or a local dialect


Lesotho

Adequate knowledge of Sesotho or English

Liberia

No person shall be naturalised unless he is a Negro or of Negro descent

Libya

 

Madagascar

Assimilation into the Malagasy community, including sufficient knowledge of Malagasy language

Malawi

Knowledge of prescribed vernacular language or English

Mali

Assimilation into the Malian community

Mauritania

Must speak fluently one of: Arabic, Pulaar, Soninké or Wolof

Mauritius

Knowledge of English or any other language spoken in Mauritius, and of the responsibilities of a citizen of Mauritius

Morocco

Sufficient knowledge of Arabic

Mozambique

Knowledge of Portuguese or a Mozambican language

Namibia

Adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Namibian citizenship

Niger

-

Nigeria

Acceptable to and assimilated into the way of life of the local community in which he is to live permanently

Rwanda

Knowledge and respect for Rwandan culture and traditions; knowledge of civic values; good social relations within the Rwandan society; preferential access for people of “Rwandan origin”

São Tomé and Príncipe

Knowledge of Portuguese or another national language; civic and moral guarantees of Integration into STP society

Senegal

 

Seychelles

Obtains at least 80 per cent of marks in 1 of the 3 national languages in a citizenship qualifying examination

Sierra Leone

Adequate knowledge of indigenous language ; preferential access if ”of Negro African descent”

Somalia

Preferential access if “Somali”

South Africa

Communicate in one of 11 official languages

South Sudan

 

Sudan

 

Swaziland

Adequate knowledge of siSwati or English

Tanzania

Adequate knowledge of Kiswahili or English

Togo

Assimilation to the Togolese community, including sufficient knowledge of a Togolese language

Tunisia

Sufficient knowledge of Arabic

Uganda

Adequate knowledge of a prescribed vernacular language or English

Zambia

 

Zimbabwe