Naturalization in African states: its past and potential future

Published: 11/May/2021
Source: Citizenship Studies

Bronwen Manby, ‘Naturalization in African states: its past and potential future’, Citizenship Studies, 25:4, 514-542, DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2021.1926098

The existing literature on the grant of citizenship by naturalization largely focuses on the experience of Europe and the immigrant-founded states of the Americas and Australasia. This article consid-ers the African experience. It sets out the comparative law on naturalization, and the limited information that exists on the imple-mentation of these rules in practice, noting that formal naturaliza-tion is rare in all countries in the continent. The article argues that amendments to the rules on naturalization are mainly performative, rather than aiming at any broader public policy outcome. Although there have been some important initiatives by some states to reach out to particular groups excluded from citizenship, these are rare. Yet public attitudes to acquisition of citizenship by foreigners are more open than the practice. Historically, integration of foreigners into the citizen body has happened largely through local processes of certification of identity. New efforts to strengthen identification systems in Africa may well make these processes more closed, and also make the difficulty of formal naturalization more visible.

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Themes: Naturalisation and Marriage
Regions: Pan Africa
Year: 2021