African countries have the weakest passports compared to other continents

12 January 2018 3 min. read
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Research from global residence and citizenship consultancy, Henley & Partners, has revealed that African passports are declining in terms of their scope for international travel without a visa, resulting in some of the weakest passports in the world. Seychelles and Mauritius are the strongest in the region. 

Henley & Partners is a global consulting firm offering expertise to a variety of clients in the domain of residence and citizenship planning. In essence, the firm has capitalised on the spike in mobility and migration that has accompanied the wave of globalisation over the last few decades, offering wide expertise to individuals, families, and professionals alike.

In addition to designing, establishing, and operating comprehensive residence programs, the firm operates a Government Advisory practice, which has generated more than $6 billion in Foreign Direct Investment.

Each year, the firm releases the Henley Passport Index, which ranks countries across the world in terms of the ability of their passports to allow unrestricted international travel. Over the past few years, African countries have performed relatively poorly on the index, and have registered steady declines to make matters worse.

19 of the 27 countries which registered the biggest drops in this year’s index were from the African Continent. Somalia was the worst performing country on the continent, ranking 101st globally with unrestricted access to 32 countries. Libya was the second lowest, with access to 36 countries and a global ranking of 99.

Top 5 African Passports

Eritrea followed in the bottom spots with access to 37 countries and a ranking of 98 worldwide, while Ethiopia and South Sudan tied in 96th place globally with access to 39 countries. Sudan was the fifth lowest country on the continent, with 40 accessible countries and a global ranking of 95.

At the top, respective visa waiver agreements with the Schengen area have done wonders for island nations Seychelles and Mauritius on the index. The two countries topped the African rankings and jumped 17 and 16 places respectively in the global rankings. Mauritius ranked 32nd globally, with access to 134 countries, while Seychelles has a global ranking of 26, with 141 accessible countries.

South Africa placed third in Africa, and, with access to 100 countries, is the only other country above the 100 mark on the continent. Globally, South Africa ranked 54th, followed by Botswana in 62nd with access to 77 countries. Namibia rounded off the top 5 with access to 74 countries, placing it 64th globally.

African countries are busy trying to rectify this situation, with Benin, Ghana, and Kenya all dropping visa requirements for travellers within Africa, and Rwanda declaring itself entirely visa-free. Countries across the continent are investing in travel infrastructure as well, hoping to bring an overall improvement to ease of access on the continent, particularly as foreign business in the region is on the rise