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Passport Index
Not all are equal.

These are the most powerful African passports to have

By Lily Kuo

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.

Country Visa free score
Seychelles 126
Mauritius 118
South Africa 90
Botswana 69
Lesotho 66
Malawi 65
Swaziland 64
Namibia 64
Kenya 64
Gambia 63
Cape Verde 63
Tanzania 62

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.

Country Visa free score
Congo 43
Equatorial Guinea 43
Burundi 42
Nigeria 41
Djibouti 40
DRC 39
Libya 37
Eritrea 36
Sudan 36
South Sudan 34
Ethiopia 34
Somalia 30