Citizens of the Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa have the most powerful passports on the continent, while Nigerians, Ethiopians and Somali have the least freedom of travel, according to the latest ranking from the financial firm Arton Capital. The rankings, based on the number of countries holders of various passport can visit without a visa as well as how many they can get a visa upon arrival.
Seychelles passport holders can travel to 126 countries, including China, France, the United Kingdom, visa-free, with a visa on arrival, or getting an electronic travel authorization. Since visa rules are often reciprocal, the ease of a Seychelles passport is also a reflection of the country’s openness. The Seychelles is one of few countries in the world that doesn’t require visas of anyone, regardless of their nationality. (Travelers are given a “visitor’s permit” when they arrive.)
Traveling to almost any region of the world, as well as within Africa, is notoriously difficult for African passport holders. That’s one reason why the African Union and regional blocs like the East Africa Community are proposing visa-free travel or loosening border requirements. Countries like Rwanda, Ghana, and Benin have scrapped visa requirements for other Africans.
Advocates for more open borders say it will help things like trade and tourism, as well as unify the continent. Others disagree with the African Union’s dream of a borderless continent as unrealistic, vague, and abstract.
On the annual global passport ranking of 193 countries and six territories, African countries have ranked mostly in the bottom half of the list. The lowest ranked African passport, from Somalia, enables its holders to travel to only 30 countries visa-free, while Nigerians can only travel to 41.