In 2020, the coronavirus ushered in lockdowns and travel restrictions, dramatically changing and shaping the way people travel by air, land or sea. It also impacted the power of passports in certain countries. Passport holders in such countries were restricted from entering certain countries due to the spread of COVID-19 in their original countries.
Aside from the pandemic, governance and political issues have also contributed to the decline of the power of passports.
The Henley Passport Index, which ranks the world’s passports according to the countries their holders can visit without a prior visa, has released its latest report and analyses. The report is updated quarterly.
The release of the report comes as many countries have eased movements across their borders albeit with some strict COVID-19 rules.
The ranking by Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
It compares the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations. If no visa is required, then a score with a value = 1 is created for that passport. The same applies if one can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit, or an electronic travel authority (ETA) when entering the destination.
Japan maintained the top spot as having the world’s most powerful passport while in Africa, Seychelles topped the chart.
Henley’s Q4 mobility report shows that the global mobility gap has widened and continues to expand as a result of the proliferating of barriers to entry erected due to COVID-19.
“Many countries in the global south have relaxed their borders in a concerted effort to revive their economies but there has been very little reciprocity from countries in the global north, which have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions,” the report further noted. “Even fully vaccinated travellers from countries at the lower end of the Henley Passport Index remain locked out of most of the developed world.”
Also, the report points to “growing inequalities,” adding that”restrictive policies initially introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 are now being conveniently applied to contain mobility from the global south.”
Below are the 10 most powerful passports in Africa right now.
- Seychelles (Visa-free score:152 or visa free access to 152 destinations)
- Mauritius (Visa-free score:146)
- South Africa (Visa-free score:103)
- Botswana (Visa-free score:86)
- Namibia (Visa-free score:78)
- Lesotho (Visa-free score:77)
- eSwatini (Visa-free score:74)
- Malawi (Visa-free score:73)
- Kenya (Visa-free score:72)
- Tanzania (Visa-free score:72)