A few weeks ago, Canada extended its visa-free travel to a host of new countries. Accordingly, 13 new nations were added to the list of nations that could now visit the country using the electronic travel authorization program instead of a visitor visa. Only two African countries were added to the list – East Africa’s Seychelles and North Africa’s Morocco. In today’s globalized world, the power of a country’s passport is more than just a symbolic gesture. Citizens of countries with strong passports have more travel options. For example, currently, Seychelles has the strongest passport in Africa and passport holders can visit 153 countries without a visa.
Beyond travel ease, and access to a wide range of destinations, having a strong passport opens up doors to economic trade. It can open up a world of possibilities for its citizens, from travel and work opportunities to cultural exchange. According to the Henley Passport Index, the countries with the most powerful passports offer their citizens a wide range of travel opportunities, and they also have strong economies that offer a variety of job and business opportunities. They may also find it easier to do business internationally and to invest in other countries. As a result, these countries have a high degree of economic mobility and development. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the importance of having a strong passport is only going to grow in the years to come. As borders become more porous and travel becomes easier, citizens of countries with strong passports will have a significant advantage. Here are the top African countries with strong passports in 2023.
Seychelles (153 visa-free destinations, 29th overall)
Seychelles has held the title of the most powerful passport in Africa for the third year in a row. The country’s passport offers access to almost all the countries in Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and China. Its passport promises access to 153 countries across the globe. Seychelles is a stable and prosperous country with a good reputation for democracy and human rights. The island nation also has a high GDP per capita, and a low crime rate, and has developed good relations with many other countries over the years. Seychelles has signed visa-waiver agreements with a number of countries, including China, India, and the United Kingdom Citizens. This allows these countries to enter Seychelles visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Seychelles also introduced a biometric passport in 2017, an act that has made it more difficult to forge or counterfeit Seychelles passports.
Mauritius (146 visa-free destinations, 32nd overall)
Mauritius is a small island known for its blue economy. Best known for its wonderful white beaches, the island boasts over 150 km of beaches around its shoreline, this beautiful African country has visa-free access to 146 countries in the world today. The country’s passport offers access to most of the world’s big economies including the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and many more. This has helped to boost the country’s economy by attracting foreign investment and tourism. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Mauritius ranks 13th on the ease of starting and running a business globally. Over the years, Mauritius has become one of the most competitive economies in Africa. Its wealth has been primarily due to having strong economic growth, a stable government, and its ability to draw wealthy individuals to do business and live there.
South Africa (106 visa-free destinations, 54th overall)
Africa’s second-largest economy and its most developed economy has the third most powerful passport on the continent. South African passport allows its citizens free access to up to 100 countries in the world. They may however need to obtain an electronic pass when they arrive and often there are limits to how long they can stay. Countries South Africans are allowed entry include; Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Qatar. Due to this, South Africa is a popular tourist destination, that generates over $10 billion in revenue each year. According to data from the World Bank, the GDP in South Africa was worth $419.02 billion in 2021.
Botswana (86 visa-free destinations, 62nd overall)
Ranked 62nd in the global ranking of countries with the most powerful passports, Botswana is visa-free to 86 countries worldwide. Botswana’s strong passport is due to a number of factors. First, Botswana is a stable and prosperous country with a good reputation for democracy and human rights. Second, Botswana has a strong economy, which makes it an attractive destination for foreign investment. Also, since attaining independence, Botswana has continued to have a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the lowest perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998. It is currently Africa’s oldest continuous democracy. With a population of about 2 million people, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income at 6%.
Namibia (78 visa-free destinations, 66th overall)
Namibia is the most powerful passport in Africa, ranking 66th globally and having visa-free access to 78 countries. The country is world famous for the highest dunes in the world at Sossusvlei and for the Etosha National Park, one of the world’s greatest conservation areas. Although Namibia still struggles with income inequality, having a strong passport has helped to boost sectors like tourism, attract foreign investment, improve trade, and increase job opportunities. For example, Tourism has become a major source of income for Namibia. Last year, tourism contributed approximately 14.7% of GDP and 15.4% of total employment in Namibia.