10 Most Powerful African Passports

As the world becomes more interconnected and the need for travel increases, passport holders of some countries have it easier than others when it comes to visa-free travel. Here are some of the top respected passports in Africa, according to data from Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017 and other travel ranking firms.

1. Seychelles

The archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean has the most powerful passport in Africa. The document opens doors in 137 countries including Europe’s Schengen area. The passport is the 31st most powerful in the world.

It is one of only two in the world that allows for visa-free travel to Russia and China. Seychelles allows for visa-free access to those visiting the country for tourism and business and in return, its passport holders are offered a level of visa-free access enjoyed by the citizens of the European Union.

2. Mauritius

Mauritius has long been an investment haven for Asians and Africans. The island not only attracts a large number of tourists but it is also an option for an offshore bank account. It is one of the top 20 countries for doing business according to the World Bank 2016 Economic Freedom report.

It is no surprise that citizens of Mauritius enjoy a high level of travel freedom with visa-free access to 131 countries, ahead of several Caribbean islands and Latin American countries. Mauritius’s passport is ranked the 35th most powerful passport in the world.

3. South Africa

South Africa has the biggest economy in Africa and allows for dual citizenship. Its passport is ranked third most powerful in Africa and the 54th most powerful one in the world. South Africa’s passport was consistently the most powerful in Africa between 2007 and 2009 but it was overtaken by Seychelles and Mauritius in 2010.

South Africa enjoys one of the widest ranges of visa-free travel option on the African continent with the passport holders having the ability to travel to 98 countries without a visa.

Although South Africa enjoys visa-free travel options on the African continent, the slow approval of Uni-visa for Southern African Development Community Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries is considered a travel constraint.

4. Botswana

Citizens of Botswana hold the fourth most powerful passport in Africa. They have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 73 countries and territories thus ranking the country’s passport 68th in the world. Botswana can visit 44 countries visa–free but needs one upon arriving in 29 countries.

5. Namibia

The country has one of the most pow­erful passports on the continent which enables its holders to travel to 71 states across the world freely, without having to apply for entry visa.

According to Minister of Home Affairs, Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana the reason why the Na­mibian passport is among the strongest in Africa is because it cannot be forged because of its watertight security features.

6. Kenya

Kenyan passport is one of the most respected passports in Africa with holders of the document able to access 69 countries visa free or a visa-on-arrival in any of the states. Out of the African nations, Kenya made the most progress in this year’s index, securing visa-free access to a further two countries during 2016, according to the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017 data.

7 Gambia

Gambia and Lesotho share the same spot with their passport holders able to visit 68 countries without having to go through the tedium of obtaining an entry clearance visa. South Korea opens its borders up to 60 days for Lesotho travellers while Japan, Malawi and Kosovo allow staying for 90 days without visa.

8. Malawi

As of January 1, this year Malawian citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 67 countries and territories, ranking the document 70th in terms of global travel freedom. Although Malawi is geographically small, in terms of area, its passport has made it to the list of the 10 most powerful passports in Africa.

9. Swaziland

Swaziland and Zambia passport holder share the same spot and able to go to 66 countries without thinking about foreign embassies and visas. Israel, Haiti, Hong Kong and Kenya allow Swaziland citizens to stay from three months to a year without visa while Belize, a country on the eastern coast of Central America, allows visa free stay for one month.

10. Tanzania

Tanzania’s passport is the second most powerful traveling document in East Africa after Kenya. According to the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017, the passport enables a Tanzanian to travel to 65 countries visa-free and is ranked at 75th position on the global travel freedom index.

Source: The People Daily