While all passports around the world may roughly be the same size at 125 mm × 88 mm – its power ultimately boils down to whether or not you need a visa to visit certain countries or not. Seychelles is the African country whose citizens have the most freedom to visit other countries around the globe, while Eritrean passport holders have the hardest time travelling.
In 2018, the Henley Passport Index released the list of the world’s most powerful passports with the Japenese passport taking top spot.
The index compiled by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners Citizens, places Seychelles as the most powerful passport on the African continent.
Strict visa requirements between African countries have been blamed for holding back economic growth. “Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. Visa restrictions imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade and for the local service economy such as tourism, cross-country medical services or education”, said Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank, during a conference in 2014.
The report ranked passports of the world by their total visa-free score and below are the most powerful passports in Africa:
1. Seychelles – No visa required in 135 Countries (World ranking: 21)
Seychelles passport holders can visit more countries in the world than Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya or Nigeria without the need to apply for a visa beforehand.
An infographic published, which ranked countries according to the number of countries their passports can enter either without a visa, or with a visa on arrival, reveals that Seychelles passport holders have access to 135 countries (Its holder can enter 104 jurisdictions on visa-free. 31 Visa on arrival. 63 required visa), making it the African passport with the best access to the world, sitting in 25th position worldwide.
2. Mauritius – No Visa Required in 131 Countries (World ranking: 25)
More than a SIMPLE grant of access to country, passports and the visas stamped on them are a reflection of geopolitics – the relationship between two nations and a country’s stature relative to the rest of the world.
Mauritian passport is among the most powerful in the world as it grants access without a visa or by receiving one upon entry to 131 countries (Visa free – 99, Visa on Arrival – 32, Visa Required – 67 ). Mauritius holds the second strongest passport in Africa after Seychelles.
3. South Africa – No Visa Required in 97 Countries (World ranking: 44)
Many of us can only dream about the freedom to travel without any visa restrictions and while South Africans enjoy one of the widest ranges of visa-free travel options on the African continent with its visa-free access extending to 97 of the world’s 195 countries (Visa free: 64, Visa on Arrival: 33, Visa required: 98) the slow progress in the approval of something like a Uni-visa for southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries only serves to add more pipe than pleasure. The South African passport is the 3rd most powerful passport.
4. Botswana – No visa required in 77 Countries (World ranking: 58)
The fourth most powerful African passport is that held by citizens of Botswana, which is ranked 58th in the Index. However, the Botswana passport only offers visa-free entry to 77 countries (Visa free: 64, Visa on Arrival: 33, Visa required: 101). Citizens of Finland, Sweden, the UK, Germany and the United States are able to travel visa-free to 174 destinations around the globe.
5. Lesotho – No Visa required in 76 Countries (World ranking: 59)
The Lesotho passport is the fifth most powerful passport in Africa. The Lesotho passport allows holders to visit 76 countries without having to go through the tedium of obtaining an entry clearance visa (Visa free: 47, Visa on Arrival: 29, Visa required: 122). Only Seychelles with 135 visa free countries, Mauritius at 131, South Africa at 97, Botswana at 77 tops over Lesotho.
6. Swaziland – No Visa required in 75 Countries (World ranking: 60)
On the 6th spot is the Swaziland passport which is ranked at No.60 in the world and covers over 75 countries. (Visa free: 46, Visa on Arrival: 29, Visa required: 123).
7. Malawi – No Visa required in 73 Countries (World ranking: 61)
The Malawian Passport ranks 7th on our list of the most powerful passports in Africa with 73 countries no visa required (Visa free: 44, Visa on Arrival: 29, Visa required: 125). Although Malawi is geographically small, in terms of area, its passport has made it on the list of the 10 most powerful passports in Africa.
8. Kenya – No visa required in 72 Countries (World ranking: 62)
The Kenyan Passport ranks 8th on our list of the most powerful passports in Africa with 68 countries no visa required. (Visa free: 39, Visa on Arrival: 33, Visa required: 126).
9. Namibia – No Visa required in 141 Countries (World ranking: 63)
The ninth most powerful African passport is that of Namibia, which is ranked 63rd in the world. However, the Namibian passport offers visa-free entry to 141 countries (Visa free: 99, Visa on Arrival: 42, Visa required: 127).
10. The Gambia – No visa required in 70 countries (World ranking: 64)
The Gambia has the 10th most powerful passport in Africa. The Gambian passport allows holders to visit 70 countries without having to go through the tedium of obtaining an entry clearance visa (Visa free: 45, Visa on Arrival: 25, Visa required: 128).
Ghana is ranked on 15th on the list, while Cameroon and Nigeria are ranked 45th in Africa. Ghana holder can enter 39 countries on visa-free. Nigeria and Cameroon are ranked 81 in the world. Nigerian holder can enter 23 jurisdictions on visa-free, 27 visa on arrival and 147 required a visa. For Cameroon, a holder can enter 19 nations on visa-free, 31 on visa on arrival and 148 required a visa from the country’s holder.