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Kenyan passport scores high on visa-free travel globally

By James Wanzala | January 11th 2020
By James Wanzala | January 11th 2020

As we enter a new decade, Kenyan passport holders can now access 71 destinations without obtaining a prior visa, according to a travel index.

African countries have seen the power of their passports decline over the last decade due to political instability and conflict that has affected travel on the continent.

The Henley Passport Index ranks Kenya at number 72, eight places lower than its position in 2010. Kenya was at position 64 in 2010 and leading in the East African region with a visa-free and visa-on-arrival score of 65.

The index is an original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

Kenya’s shift in ranking is emblematic of the widening global mobility gap between African countries and other regions featured on the index — based on data from the International Air Transport Association.


However, Kenya still commands a relatively high score in comparison to its East Africa region neighbours, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 71 destinations globally.

Research using exclusive historical data from the index has revealed a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, government integrity and personal or political freedom.

Henley and Partners Managing Partner and Head of South, Central and East Africa, Amanda Smit, said the implementation of reciprocal visa waivers is the determining factor for upward movement in the global ranking.

“The rankings seem to have dropped but it is not that African countries have lost access - it’s that they are remaining static, while other countries are in a position to make mutually beneficial arrangements which add value to their global mobility,” she said. 

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