Nigeria, acclaimed giant of Africa, is also home to one of the continent’s weakest passports.
A new study posits that over the past decade, the Nigerian passport has suffered the worst decline in rankings – placing 95th on the annual Henley Passport Index.
The 19-place decline in passport power now sees Africa’s most populous country etched in the bottom quarter of the rankings.
Nd this is bad news for Nigerian passport holders as they can only visit two countries fewer now than they could in 2010 without first obtaining a visa.
Regionally, Africa accounts for four of the seven biggest drops in ranking on the index since 2010. And it comes as no surprise that the region also dominates the bottom quarter of the rankings with only two countries—Seychelles and Mauritius—in the top 50.
While passport power is often affected by local conflict and security fears as seen in the cases of Libya which has dropped 16 places since 2010 and Mali which has dropped 13 places, the decline for African countries is largely because countries in other regions are easing travel with reciprocity and boosting the strength of their passports at a much faster pace.
Henley & Partners, the residence and citizenship consultancy that collates the index, notes that the current global mobility gap is the “starkest” ever since the inception of the index.
Without the luxury of visa-free travel or even receiving visas on arrival, travelling abroad comes with the hurdle of expensive, paperwork-intensive visa application processes for a majority of holders of African passports, Quartz writes.
It is not uncommon for most applications to be met with rejection—sometimes without just cause: a joint All-Party Parliamentary Group report from British lawmakers in August showed Africans are being unfairly denied UK visas.
And this comes with dire implications, such as being unable to visit family members abroad to scuttling higher education plans and stifling the potential for expanding businesses.
Stats show that up to 75% of African students who applied for study permits in Canada between January and May 2019 were rejected— far higher than the global rejection rate of 39%.
Considering that an easy way for African countries to boost the strength of their passports is by easing visa regimes on the continent, the Nigerian president, Maj gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), last year announced the visa on arrival policy for other African visitors.