Acquisition by children

National laws usually grant nationality to children at birth based on a combination of two principles: the nationality of the parent(s) and the location of birth of the child. All African states provide for a child to acquire nationality based on descent, though some still discriminate on the basis of the sex of the parent.

The laws of around half of the countries in Africa provide automatic citizenship to children born in the territory themselves, or if their parents were also born there, or give the children of non-citizen parents the right to claim nationality if they are still resident there when they reach the age of majority. However, more than 20 countries either make no provision for children born on their territory to claim nationality if they have no other claim to nationality or do so only if the child is of unknown parentage.

The minimum requirement to prevent statelessness among children, required by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, is for national laws to grant nationality to any child born in the territory who would otherwise be stateless. In addition, national laws should provide for children of unknown parents to be presumed to have the nationality of the country where they are found, for adopted children to acquire the nationality of their adoptive parents, and for children whose parents naturalise to acquire nationality at the same time.

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