Seychelles' passport remains the most powerful on the African continent for a consecutive year while moving up one place in a global ranking recently published by Henley and Partners for the first quarter of 2022.
Globally, Seychelles ranks 28th, moving up one place from the 29th position in 2021. On the African continent, Seychelles is in first place followed by Mauritius, ranked 31st globally. South Africa is in third position in Africa and 51st in the world.
According to the Henley Passport Index, Seychelles' passport holders can travel to 152 countries visa-free.
Topping the global ranking are Japan and Singapore, which allow their passport holders visa-free travel to 192 destinations. On the other side of the spectrum, in 111th place stands Afghanistan, where its passport holders can travel to only 26 countries visa-free.
The index, which includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations, is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Henley & Partners' research team.
Based in London, Henley and Partners is a global citizenship and residence advisory firm, which, according to its website, produces an "original, authoritative ranking of all the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa."
New visa waivers under discussion
Visitors from all countries entering Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago, also have an easy time travelling, as they do not have to apply for a visa in advance. Travellers are given a visitor's permit upon arrival.
Since the island state is open to all countries, it is continually negotiating with other states to obtain visa waivers for its citizens to travel freely around the world.
Jacques Belle, director general for protocol, consular and diaspora affairs at Seychelles' foreign affairs department, confirmed that there are currently ongoing discussions to sign new visa waivers.
"Being a visa-free destination, we would like other countries to reciprocate this, so that when Seychellois go to these countries, they do not have to face certain restrictions. There are certain countries with which we can negotiate for them to lift visa restrictions, and this is done with the signing of a visa waiver. There are a few strategic countries we are working with," said Belle.
Talking about the recent signing of a contract between Seychelles and French company IN Groupe for the introduction of a biometric passport, Belle added that for some countries, it is a requirement to have a biometric passport to obtain a visa waiver.
He noted that the COVID-19 situation is not helping when it comes to obtaining visa waivers as it has become more complicated to travel.
"Despite this, we still need to work on obtaining a visa waiver as it is to the advantage of the people," said Belle.