Air travel in Africa stubbornly remains an elitist affair; and this continues to hamper the continental and global travel experiences of many Africa whose wishes is endless learning of other people, places, and cultures. This impedes relocation efforts and investment patterns that are emancipatory.
Air travel is in all essence an exclusionary exercise that reproduces capitalist desire, envy, and materialist consumerism replete with vanity, and bereft of empowering and unifying knowledge exchanges.
Investment in Western terms commodifies the global experience, instead of making it a truly humane experience to make the world understand one another’s problems and work for solutions towards such.
This is worsened by insecure passports whose perception on the global scale of advanced capitalist countries wilts in inferiority. Air travel has not been democratized and this affects African countries more – especially their passports and investments.
For example, holders of African passports must be given visas with restrictive classifications – often after long, arduous, complicated, and elitist visa-application procedures – to travel to such advanced countries.
Yet, holders of American, European, or Asian passports do not go through any visa application procedure to travel by air to African countries. It significantly erodes the ‘strength’ of African passports in the costly business of air travel. The vast inequality in ‘visa-free’ access speaks volumes about how the strength of African passports is viewed globally.
Add to this perception crisis a frustratingly convoluted bureaucratic processes making the issuance of African passports expensive, unreasonably long, and exclusionary.
Some of the passports from African countries are manufactured by foreign companies (DRC passports were made by a Belgian company). Some, like the Cameroonian one, now come with new biometric technology (and a 46% price increase).
This often leads to allegations of corruption in the processing and issuance of such passports – and this reduces the rankings of African passports when weighed against those from other countries.
The Global Passport Index, released by the London-based ‘investment’ migration consultation firm called Global Citizen Solutions, transcends the limitation of visa-free access when assessing the strength of passports – it then includes factors such as “building mobility, investment opportunity, and quality of life offered by the countries”.
Essentially, a “well-rounded,” objective, and contextual view of life. The biggest limitation is that these metrics, which specifically entail “the attractiveness of the locations for relocation, investment, and dual citizenship, and showing how travel-, investor-, and relocation-friendly passports are” is that it lumps together all nationalities to view them with the same elitist European capitalist view of profits (investment language) and neoliberal globalization.
Nonetheless, these European-backed rankings offer a glimpse as regards the standing of African passports vis-à-vis air travel and may somewhat inspire insights on how to democratize air travel for African contexts.
Other travel agencies/financial firms have proffered their passport rankings for the year, but the one below seems pretty much convincing. Such a ranking however is more useful about “where to relocate” rather than “where to travel to”.
This is where the Henley Passport Index becomes the authoritative list rather than the experimental (though innovative) Global Passport Index.
Below are the most powerful passports in Africa, 2021 (Global Passport Index):
What the global north air travel epistemology ostensibly proclaims is that Mauritius has the best quality of life over every other African country, making the holders of its passports well-deserving of various travel benefits/privileges.
The rankings bank on three metrics – the enhanced mobility index (travel benefits bestowed to the holder of a certain passport and how attractive the passport is based on the quality of life), investment index (how that country fares as a preferable investment option/destination), and quality of living index (judges the components constitution good quality of life – it overlaps with the first metric regarding ‘enhanced mobility’).
It is apparent that Mauritius fares well regarding these metrics and as such, its passport is the strongest in Africa according to the indices curated by Global Citizens Solutions.
Closely behind Mauritius is Seychelles – an increasingly romanticized destination in Africa by affluent travelers/tourists and investors. Both Seychelles and Mauritius favourable conditions for foreign capital/businesses because of relaxed tax regulations.
Seychelles, like Mauritius, performs better in enhanced mobility and investment, showing “strong economies for investment, good travel benefits, and the attractiveness of the countries due to high qualities of life.”
3. South Africa
The Southern African nation has always enjoyed a relatively developed economy (although unbalanced and exclusionary) making it an attractive destination for high-income travelers and investments. Marked with “favorable” markets and innovation, “high” freedom, and “low” migrant acceptance, South Africa takes the third position pertaining powerful African passports. It is probably the migrant reception that deprives the country first or second position.
Another Southern African nation takes up a remarkable position on the ladder of African passports. The country’s personal tax rate of 25% signifies “prosperous nations with a dynamic economy.”
With a GNI per capita of $10.850, Tunisia seems a favorable destination, coupled with “high” sustainable development.
Namibia is renowned for its stability and usage of South Africa’s economic features gives it an alluring investment weight in capitalist terms. It is one of the ideal relocation spots for foreign private capital .
Morocco has presented itself as the perfect North African destination for investment and an improved quality of life as it registers “low” cost of living, “medium” environmental performance, and “medium” happiness.
A good run of democratic stability, guaranteeing safety for capital, means that Ghana is a safe destination for the relocation of private capital. The country also has a good reception of migrants.
The East African country is accommodative of investment efforts and patterns, with “low” cost of living and “medium” acceptance of migrants.
Lesotho draws on its proximity to South Africa to create favorable conditions for its macroeconomic growth – it is this proximity that makes it a good investment opportunity because of South African markets.