This is why Nigeria has one of the weakest passports in the world

  • The Henley Passport Index has released its first report for 2020.
  • The report, which ranks all passports based on their visa-free access score, is dominated by Japan, followed by Singapore.
  • In Africa, the list is led by Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa. Nigeria can be found down the list in the 95th position.

10 years ago, the Nigerian passport was the 76th most powerful travel document in the world.

Now it has dropped to 95th place, granting visa-free access to only 46 destinations. This makes this document one of the weakest passports in West Africa right now.

The most powerful travel document in this region is Benin, ranked in the 81st position with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 62 destinations.

  • Why is the Nigerian passport losing its value?

The report blames the general decline in the power of African passports over the last decade on political instability and conflict across the continent.

Stuart Wakeling, Director Private Clients & Head of Nigeria, offers a more detailed explanation for the growing weakness of the Nigerian passport.

According to him, the Nigerian passport is suffering because “visa-free travel and passport ranking is contingent on a positive international perception of domestic affairs and proactive engagement between sovereign states.”

Since “diplomatic interaction and negotiation take time. Nigeria, therefore, has a passport value today, that is not representative of the short to medium-term economic growth that has so impressed global investors. Global diplomats and politicians wish to see the long-term positive effects of that economic growth and ensure that it is sustainable before any positive change can be evidenced on a passport specific level,” he adds.

However, Wakeling is hopeful since “Nigeria has demonstrated some of the fastest and most impressive new wealth creation in the world. The high-net-worth population within the country is predicted to rise by a compound annual rate of 16.3% between 2019 and 2023, outstripping the vast majority of other global liquidity centres. Nigeria lays claim to Africa’s largest economy and this has successfully diversified over time. Of course, oil and gas remain important and prominent, but far from the only component.”

He recommends implementing reciprocal visa waivers to move up the global ranking.


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