According to the latest 2020 Henley Passport Index, Japan tops the list of the most powerful passport in the world. South Africa, the country of my birth comes in at 56 in the world and ranks at number 3 in Africa.

Among other factors included in the ranking, Henley considers the number of countries one can enter Visa FREE; the more countries your passport can access visa free, the more powerful it tends to be.

Henley releases this index annually as passport rankings can be a subject of change from one year to the other, based on diplomatic negotiations, trade agreements, country stability and other economic factors.

As a frequent traveler withing the African continent, I should have know better to always verify the rankings and the number of countries my passport could access visa free or on a visa on arrival agreement.

On a resent trip from South Africa to Djibouti, I was left embarrassed when when attempt to board the aircraft. I was advise that I need a visa to enter Djibouti with a South African passport. I protested this fact stating that a SA passport is eligible for a VISA on arrival in Djibouti.

Considering the information at hand neither myself or the airline were wrong in this matter, the only problem is that my information was outdated. Djibouti had recently announced an eVisa requirement for SA passports, a fact I had overlooked and painfully paid for in my attempts to now rescue or rectify the situation.

The Lesson:

Always keep your eyes on the index, here is a list of the 10 most powerful African passports:

  1. Seychelles
  2. Mauritius
  3. South Africa
  4. Botswana
  5. Namibia
  6. Lesotho
  7. eSwatini
  8. Malawi
  9. Kenya
  10. Tanzania

Any surprises on this list? Leave a comment below…

source: Henley Passport Index