Each year, approximately 1 billion people travel internationally for a variety of reasons; from vacation to study and business. Where you travel to and how easily it is for you to get in, will most likely depend on the passport you hold. Some passports help you get into virtually every country on the planet, while some can barely get you into a neighboring country. Just like in George Orwell’s story of the “Animal farm” where some animals are more equal than others. Here, some passports are more equal than others.
African passports have generally experienced a decline in value over the last 10 years, according to statistics from the Henley Passport Index. The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
The East African nation has Africa’s 10th most powerful passport offering access to over 70 countries around the world. Home to Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro and some of the continent’s most beautiful wildlife parks Tanzania has one of the most stable and prosperous economies in Africa. The country’s passport is 73rd globally offering access to countries like Fiji, Bahamas, Cayman Islands and others.
Kenya international passport can provide visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 71 countries. This number of locations includes Cuba, Nigeria, and Nepal. The light blue colored travel document occupies the 9th spot on the list. On the Henley Passport Index, it shares the 72nd position with China. Kenyan citizens can travel to 71 countries without visas out of a possible 218. Some of the countries that Kenyans can access without visa or get one on arrival include Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica and Fiji, among others.
Nationals of Malawi have access to 72 countries particularly without owning a prior visa. The travel locations open for free access to Malawians include the Bahamas, Israel, and Malaysia. This international passport is ranked as the 8th most respected passport in Africa. On the global index, it occupies the 71st position, a step ahead of China. The country is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west.
Formerly known as Swaziland, this country has an international passport that grants visa-free or visa on arrival passage to 73 countries. This places it on the seventh position of the top 10 most powerful passports in Africa. On the Henley Passport Index, it occupies the 70th spot. With a population of about 1 million, the economy of the country displays a marked duality of large-scale intensive production and small-scale semi-subsistence activities.
Completely encircled by the Republic of South Africa but separated from it by forbidding mountain ranges, Lesotho has endured decades of turbulent politics, periodic economic crises, and grinding poverty since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1966. Lesotho has the sixth most powerful passport on the continent. On the global index, the passport falls to the 69th position thereby sharing the same spot with Saudi Arabia. Nationals of Lesotho can travel to as much as 74 countries without applying for prior visas.
Namibia holds the position of the fifth most powerful passport in Africa, ranking 67th globally and having a visa free access to 74 countries. The country is world famous for the highest dunes in the world at Sossusvlei and for the Etosha National Park, one of world’s greatest conservation areas. With an estimated population of about 2 million, Namibia is still listed as developing country due to income inequality.
Ranked 62nd in the global ranking of countries with the most powerful passports, Botswana is visa free to 84 countries worldwide. Since attaining independence, Botswana has continued to have a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the lowest perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998. It is currently Africa’s oldest continuous democracy. With a population of about 2 million people, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world since independence. Also, Botswana’s competitive banking system is one of Africa’s most advanced.
3. South Africa
Africa’s second largest economy and its most developed has its third most powerful passport. Home to about 58 million people, the country has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa after Nigeria. South African passport allows its citizens free access to up-to 100 countries in the world. They may however need to obtain an electronic pass when they arrive and often there are limits to how long they can stay. Countries South Africans are allowed entry include; Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Qatar. South Africa is a popular tourist destination, and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism.
The next country on the list is Mauritius, a small island in the ocean. This beautiful African country has visa-free access to 145 countries in the world today. Best known for its wonderful white beaches, the island boasts over 150 km of beaches around its shoreline. It is probably one of the safest countries in Africa to travel to. It also has one of the most competitive economies in Africa. Mauritius’ wealth has been primarily due to having a strong economic growth, stable government and its ability to draw wealthy individuals to do business and live there. The country’s passport offers access to most of the world’s big economies including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and many more.
Seychelles holds the title for the most powerful passport in Africa for the third year in a row. Its passport promises access to 151 countries across the globe. It also comes 29th on the list of the most powerful passport in the world. The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals. It has a population of about 97, 000 people, and the official languages are English, French, and Seychellois Creole. The country’s passport offers access to almost all the countries in Europe, New Zealand China and more.