Despite the Covid-19 pandemic having stalled air and ground travel for much of 2020 as governments implemented various measures to contain the spread of the virus, the Botswana passport maintained its position as 4th powerful in Africa despite dropping three places globally in the 2021 Henley Passport Index.
The latest results from the Passport Index which ranks world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa shows that Botswana’s rank has dropped from 59th spot in 2020 to 62nd in 2021. Botswana came tied with Maldives on position 62. The Henley Passport Index which is based on International Air Transport Association (IATA) data, ranks 199 passports and 227 travel destinations according to the number of destinations their passport holder can access without a prior visa.
The Index states that the Botswana passport is 4th best on the African continent and fetches visa-free access to 85 countries, while passport holders require visa-on-arrival in 141 countries. Seychelles passport is ranked 28th in the world and the best in Africa with visa free access to 151 countries while Mauritius is ranked 31st in the world and 2nd in Africa with visa free access to 146 countries. South Africa is ranked 3rd in Africa and is 54th globally with visa free access to 101 countries.
For the third year in a row, Japan’s passport tops the Index as it fetches visa-free access to 191 countries, while passport holders require visa-on-arrival in 35 countries. The worst passports to hold which have fewer visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries are Afghanistan (26 destinations), Iraq (28), Syria (29), Pakistan (32), Somalia and Yemen (33), Palestinian territories (37), Libya, Nepal (38) and North Korea (39).
A commentator who spoke to Sunday Standard indicated that while a good rank on the Henley passport index speaks to Botswana’s robust diplomatic affairs and foreign policy edge, “there is need for the government to push for more visa arrangements in future trade and airline deals,” says Ronald Dintle.
Passports of the world are sorted using visa-free (VF) and visa on arrival (VOA) privileges. For a country to have the strongest passport in the world, it has to be welcomed by other countries without having to obtain a visa or with the ease of getting one on arrival at the port of entry. Known as the visa-free scoring (VFS) system, a high VFS score ensures that the passport holder has a greater measure of global mobility.