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Henley Index: The Kenyan Passport Is Now The Strongest In The Region With 71 Countries You Can Visit Without A Visa

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New generations Kenyan passport.
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For some people, a passport is a portal to the world. For others, it is a barrier to the travel freedom they seek.

According to the Henley Passport Index, which is the most rigorous and sophisticated measure of global access, Kenyan passport has been ranked the 73rd most powerful powerful in the world with 71 destinations listed that you can visit without a visa or issued with a visa on arrival.

The Henley Passport Index is the only passport index that is based on IATA data, enhanced by extensive in-house research, supported by expert commentary, and updated regularly throughout the year, making it the most robust, credible, and reliable index of its kind.

Kenya which is still the strongest passport in the East African region, has however dropped in rankings compared to 2017 where it was at 68th now down by 4 points to 73 a significant drop.

South Africa holds the 3rd strongest passport in Africa at position 52 globally with 102 visa free destinations. Nigeria is at 94th with only 47 destinations.

Kenya has the 6th most powerful passport in Africa after Seychelles which is 25th with 152 destinations, Mauritius, 31st with 146 destinations, South Africa and Namibia which is at 69 with 79 visa free destinations.

Regionally, Kenya is the strongest with Tanzania coming right after at position 74 with 68 visa free destinations. Uganda, 77th with 64 destinations. Rwanda at 87th with 54 destinations.

Chart indicating Kenya’s performance over the years.

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. Japan and Singapore have been neck and neck on the index since they both climbed to 1st place in February — following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan — and pushed Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.

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This quarter, Germany has fallen further to 3rdplace, which it now shares with South Korea and France. France moved up from 4th to 3rdplace last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan, while South Korea moved from 4th to 3rd place on 1 October when it gained visa-free access to Myanmar. Germany, France, and South Korea all have a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 188. Iraq and Afghanistan continue to hold the bottom (106th) spot of the Henley Passport Index, with only 30 destinations accessible to their citizens.

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The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have also slid down one spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers such as Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, it seems increasingly unlikely that the US and the UK will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015.

Countries that you can visit with a Kenyan passport without a visa or be issued with one on arrival can be accessed here:

Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Macao(SAR China), Maldives, Nepal, Timor-Leste.

Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Comores Islands, Congo, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Seychelles, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Togo.

Oceania: Palau Islands, Samoa And Tuvalu.

St. Lucia

Americas: Bolivia

Middle-East: Iran and Jordan.

This list mutates so you have to check with your travel agent.

For several years, the South African passport has remained the third strongest on the continent in terms of its levels of access, with Lrst and second place held by the Seychelles and Mauritius, respectively.

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Both islands continue to outperform their continental counterparts due to their maintenance of prized visa-waiver agreements with Schengen countries as well as their own relatively open visa policies, which have generally been reciprocated.

The Seychelles, which renders itself a completely visa-free destination, secured further deregulated visa access for its passport-holders through visa waivers from the governments of Thailand and Angola in the Lrst quarter of 2018. Similarly, Mauritius, which is visa-free for all but 16 countries, secured a visa-waiver agreement with New Zealand in April 2018.

Although the rest of Africa continues to lag behind in the accessibility of their passports, there is reason for optimism. While visa-free access outside of the continent is still limited, African states are increasingly deregulating visa regulations for their continental counterparts.

A case in point is Angola, which recently removed visa requirements for nine African countries: namely, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Cabo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Morocco, Swaziland, Algeria, and Zambia. Similarly, the undertaking of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community to grant visa waivers to passport-holders of its member states (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa Republic, Congo- Brazzaville, Gabon, and Chad) could also be replicated by other regional political blocs seeking to promote the African Union’s vision of increasing inter-African trade and travel, as outlined in its Agenda 2063 mandate.


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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [in.kenyawest@protonmail.com]

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