A passport is a crucial document that affects global mobility and hence influences global social equality. Some passports offer greater travel freedom to the citizens, while some don’t. Most powerful passports allow the holders to enter most foreign countries with ease and few entry requirements.
The reciprocity principle governs the visa-free status of a passport. Some countries have no restrictions to boost tourism and therefore benefit from the visa-free status with visitors from more countries than others. This does not make a passport more powerful. When a passport holder has a powerful passport, they have access to all consular assistance from as many nations as possible in an emergency.
Methodology of ranking the most powerful passports
Passports are analysed based on visa-free travel choices and how inviting countries treat the visitors. The Passport Index ranks 193 UN member countries and six territories, including Macao (SAR China), The Republic of China, the Vatican, Hong Kong (SAR China), Palestinian Territory, and Kosovo. French Polynesia (France), the British Virgin Islands (Britain) and Norfolk Island (Australia) are not included.
The passports are ranked according to these scores:
- Visa-free score
- Welcoming Score
- Global Mobility Score
- World Openness score
Here are the most powerful African passports in 2022.
The global ranking for Zambian passports is 74. Passport holders can visit 71 countries visa-free and with visas on arrival. The Zambian passport has a medium to low mobility score. The citizens can travel to countries like Singapore and Malaysia without a visa.
However, 158 countries require a prior visa or an e-visa to travel.
9. Kenya and Tanzania
Kenya and Tanzania tie at 73rd place for most powerful passports. While a Kenyan passport allows a visa-free and a visa on arrival to 71 destinations, a Tanzanian passport has the same access to 72 countries.
Tunisian passports rank at 72nd place globally. The passport holders have access to visa-free and visa-on-arrival entries to 73 countries. Moreover, the World Economic Forum ranked Tunisia as the most competitive economy in Africa. It has an export-oriented and liberal market.
This landlocked country stands at 72nd in the global ranking. Passport holders can visit 35 countries without a visa. It has a mobility score of 71.
Lesotho has a global ranking of 69 in terms of the most powerful passports. The citizens of Lesotho can travel to seventy-seven countries without a visa or visa on arrival. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to Lesotho passport holders in Malaysia, Ireland, Singapore, and Japan. Visas are required for Lesotho nationals to travel to other countries worldwide. The passport ranking is low on the overall global mobility score.
According to the Index, the Namibian passport is presently ranked 66th. It allows people to travel to 78 countries without needing a visa. Therefore, the mobility score is medium to low. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to Namibian passport holders in Malaysia, Rwanda, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
Botswana passport holders have visa-free access and visas on arrival to countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Iran. On the other hand, citizens of Botswana need a visa to visit 142 countries across the world, including Canada, the USA, Thailand, Mexico, and the European Union.
Also, read: Why are people moving to Africa?
3. South Africa
The Guide Passport Ranking Index ranks the South African passport 54th. It allows citizens of 103 countries to travel without a visa making so it one of the most powerful passports in Africa. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to South African passport holders in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Russia, and Israel. On the other hand, South African citizens need a visa to visit 126 countries across the world, including the USA, Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, and the European Union. Because of the high visa requirement, the mobility score is medium.
According to the Henley Passport Index, Mauritian citizens have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 146 countries. Therefore, it puts the Mauritian passport on 31st rank worldwide and 2nd in Africa in travel flexibility. Mauritius is one of the few nations whose citizens can travel to the Uk, China, the Schengen Area, and Russia without a visa as of November 2021.
This gives it a higher total mobility score, making it a powerful passport. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to Mauritian passport holders in countries such as Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union. As a result, it allows quick travel to some of the world’s most popular destinations. On the other hand, Mauritian passport holders need a visa to visit 81 countries.
Seychelles has the highest total mobility score compared to other African countries, making it one of the most powerful passports. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to passport holders in countries such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, and the European Union. Passport holders, on the other hand, need a visa to visit 75 countries.
While your country’s passport will influence the power of your passport, you too are also responsible for increasing the strength of your passport by not abusing international travel opportunities. We explore this in a later document. Register on the website for updates.