TRAVEL

Kenyan passport eighth most powerful in Africa – report

Kenyan passport holders are now able to access 71 destinations without obtaining a prior visa.

In Summary

•In East Africa, Kenya's passport is the most powerful followed by Tanzania which is ranked 73 globally. 

•The country's most powerful travel document has strengthened in the latest global ranking moving two places to position 72 .

An immigration staffer holds an e-passport at Nyayo House
An immigration staffer holds an e-passport at Nyayo House
Image: ENOS TECHE

The Kenyan passport is the eighth most powerful in Africa giving holders access to 71 destinations without obtaining a prior visa.

It has equally strengthened in the latest global ranking where it has moved two places to position 72 out of 107 countries, in the latest 2020 Henley Passport Index ranking released on Tuesday.

It was ranked position 74 globally in last year July's (quarter three) report when citizens could leave the country to 70 destinations without first processing a visa.

 

In East Africa, Kenya's passport is the most powerful followed by Tanzania which is ranked 73 globally, with its citizens able to leave the country to 70 destinations without a visa.

Uganda is third ranked 77 with access to 66 destinations while Rwanda and Burundi come in fourth and fifth respectively at positions 83 and 93 globally, with access to 59 and 49 destinations without a visa.

Somalia passport is the least powerful in the region ranking 104 with access to only 32 destinations without a prior visa.

In the continent, Kenya falls behind Seychelles which is ranked 29 globally with access to 151 destination without a prior visa, South Africa at position 56, Botswana(62), Namibia(67), Lesotho(69), eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) at position 70 and Malawi(71).

Seychelles has the most powerful passport in Africa. Kenya ties with China and Indonesia at position 72 globally.

The Kenyan passport has however weakened in the last ten years according to the Henley Passport Index which ranks all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

“As we enter the new decade, Kenya ranks at number 72 , eight places lower than its position on the index in 2010,” the report reads in part.

 

Kenya shared position 64 with Malawi in 2010 with a visa free, visa-on-arrival score of 65.

“African countries have seen the power of their passports decline over the last decade due to political instability and conflict that has affected travel freedom on the continent,” the report notes.

The shift in Kenya’s ranking is emblematic of the widening global mobility gap between African countries and other regions featured on the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The foreign affairs ministry campaigns coupled with increased international travels by the Presidency, is seen to have contributed to bilateral gains that have propelled Kenya two positions up from last year.

Kenyan passport holders can travel to 32 African countries, 15 Caribbean,  11 Asian, nine in Oceania, and two countries in Americas and Middle East respectively, without a prior visa.

The report  has revealed that there is a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, government integrity, and personal or political freedom.

According to Henley's managing partner and head of south, central and East Africa, Amanda Smit, the implementation of reciprocal visa waivers is the determining factor for upward movement in the global ranking.

“The rankings seem to have dropped but it is not that African countries have lost access , it's that they are remaining static, while other countries are in a position to make mutually beneficial arrangements which add value to their global mobility,” Smit said.

Japan has the strongest passport followed by Singapore and Germany which closes the top three list.