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African passports: The powerful, the weak and the (now) barred from the US

On Friday US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that barred citizens of seven nations from accessing a US visa to enter the country, effective immediately. Among these are citizens of the African countries Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

These countries already have some of Africa’s weakest passports, according to the Arton Capital’s Passport Index, which ranks national passports by how easily they can visit other territories – either without a visa or with a visa on arrival. There are only 37 countries globally a Libyan passport has easy access to, while there are 36 for Sudan and 30 for Somalia (which is ranked the country with the weakest passport in Africa and fifth-weakest in the world).

Interestingly these African countries are also some of the world’s least welcoming – meaning they don’t allow many others in visa-free or visa-on-arrival. Somalia is one of only three countries in the world that does not offer any foreign travellers hassle-free entry. Libya only allows three countries (Jordon, Turkey and Tunisia) easy passage, while Sudan admits 10 countries.

Africa’s most powerful and weakest passports

According to the index, citizens from Seychelles hold the most powerful passport in Africa, with the ability to easily access 126 countries globally.

Mauritius has the second-strongest passport (with admittance to 118 markets), followed by South Africa (90), Botswana (69) and Lesotho (66).

Both Seychelles and Rwanda are the biggest gainers in Africa, meaning their passports have strengthened the most when compared to 2016. Each now have painless entry to two extra countries. For example, Rwandan passport holders can now access 48 territories, compared to 46 last year.

After Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan have the second-weakest passports – both with easy entry to only 34 countries. Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, Nigeria, also ranks poorly compared to other countries on the continent, with access to only 41 territories.

Ghana’s passport is Africa’s biggest loser, with admission to four less countries than it had in 2016.

CountryVisa-Free ScoreGlobal Passport Power Rank
Seychelles12625
Mauritius11832
South Africa9048
Botswana6959
Lesotho6661
Malawi6562
Swaziland6463
Namibia6463
Kenya6463
Gambia6364
Cape Verde6364
Tanzania6265
Tunisia6166
Zambia5968
Zimbabwe5869
Ghana5770
Uganda5770
Sierra Leone 5671
Morocco5572
Benin5572
Guinea5473
Côte d’Ivoire5473
Senegal5374
São Tomé e Príncipe5374
Burkina Faso5275
Mauritania5275
Mali5176
Togo5077
Niger4978
Madagascar4978
Mozambique4879
Rwanda4879
Chad4879
Gabon4879
Egypt4879
Guinea-Bissau4780
Algeria4780
Comoros4780
Liberia4483
Central African Republic4483
Angola4384
Cameroon4384
Congo4384
Equatorial Guinea4384
Burundi4285
Nigeria4186
Djibouti4087
Democratic Republic of Congo3988
Libya3790
Eritrea3691
Sudan3691
South Sudan3493
Ethiopia3493
Somalia3094

Africa’s most welcoming and unwelcoming countries

Africa’s most welcoming countries are Seychelles, Uganda, Togo, Mozambique, Mauritania, Madagascar, Comoros, and Guinea-Bissau – all allowing 98 different national passports effortless passage.

After Somalia, Equatorial Guinea (which only allows US passport holders visa-free access) and Angola (which only allows easy entry to citizens of Namibia and Cape Verde) are the second and third least-welcoming countries in Africa.

Last year the African Union introduced a single African passport, although this is still only available to a few high-profile individuals. However, the end goal is to improve access to different African countries for the average African. Only 13 of 55 African countries offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all Africans, according to the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016, commissioned by the African Development Bank (AfDB). It is actually less painful for Americans to travel within Africa than it generally is for Africans. For example, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote pointed out last year that it is easier for US citizens to travel to South Africa for business than it is for him – as Nigerians have to apply for a visa while Americans are granted visa-free access.

COUNTRYGLOBAL RANKWELCOMING COUNTRIES SCORE
Comoros1198
Guinea-Bissau1198
Madagascar1198
Mauritania1198
Mozambique1198
Seychelles1198
Togo1198
Uganda1198
Cape Verde2197
Djibouti4195
Kenya10182
Tanzania12178
Mauritius13176
Malawi22146
Zambia26135
Gambia28125
Senegal29123
Zimbabwe33119
Egypt34116
Botswana42103
Swaziland4993
Tunisia4993
South Africa6274
Lesotho6372
Morocco6570
Burkina Faso6767
Rwanda6963
Namibia7354
São Tomé e Príncipe7453
Ghana7552
Ethiopia8041
Côte d’Ivoire8521
Guinea8521
Mali8620
Niger8719
Sierra Leone8719
Nigeria8818
Benin8917
Liberia9016
Central African Republic9114
Congo9114
Chad9213
Sudan9410
Algeria968
Democratic Republic of Congo977
Burundi995
Cameroon995
South sudan995
Gabon1004
Eritrea1013
Libya1013
Angola 1022
Equatorial Guinea1031
Somalia1040

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  • Lizz Ndungu

    This is modern day colonisation, a time is coming that africa will be Rating the europeen countries visa to come to africa.

  • TONNAH QUEJO MICHAEL

    Ghana rankings, all i disagree. Ghanaian are very hospitable and welcoming.

  • Godfrey Simiyu

    Now I know the position of my country Kenya.

  • Taha Yas

    Thanks for the information !

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