African countries that have a strong tourism industry and relative stability have the strongest passports, according to the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2014. Citizens from Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa have access to the most countries visa-free.
The Index reveals that tourism-rich Seychelles (129 countries visa free), Mauritius (125) and South Africa (97) have all improved their positions in the global rankings, although as a whole, the power of the African passport has declined dropping a total of 25 spots in the rankings.
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 73 countries, which makes it 57% poorer in terms of access than the five highest-ranked passports: citizens of Finland, Sweden, the UK, Germany and the United States are able to travel visa-free to 174 destinations around the globe.
Notably Kenya and Namibia have both moved up the list with visa free access increased from 68 to 71 countries each.
Economic powerhouse Nigeria (49 visa-free destinations available to its citizens) has less than one-third of the visa-free options of the world’s top passports.
Mauritius was the biggest individual winner this year, adding 3 extra countries to its total of visa-free destinations, while the Central African Republic, Algeria and Ethiopia each lost visa-free access to three countries compared to their 2013 ranking.
“Visa requirements continue to play an important role in controlling the movement of individuals across borders,” says Andrew Taylor, Vice Chairman of Henley & Partners.
“Citizens from developed countries have more freedom to travel compared to developing countries and countries that are suffering from political instability. The bottom four spots remain the same as in 2013, with citizens from Pakistan (32), Somalia (32), Iraq (31) and Afghanistan (28) enjoying the least freedom of travel,” says Taylor.
“The effects of holding a passport that is ranked low on the Index can provide considerable obstacles to individuals who operate a global business.”